Here is Preston the Welsh Corgi, 12x14" colored pencil on linen, my reference photos. This was a custom portrait created for the best of clients who expressly encouraged me to paint whatever made me happy; thus the unusual angle and wet fur. The client, myself and her two dogs, spent hours walking and photographing at two different locations, until I had many beautiful reference shots from which to choose. My art needs a story and Preston provided one when he unexpectedly followed his housemate, a Labrador Retriever, straight into the river. Corgis are all chest and no legs. Preston had never been beyond wading. He sank like a stone, then bobbed to the surface. The swimming technique, newly minted, added to the hilarity of Preston's alarmed expression, but he arrived safely to the water's edge soaking wet and disgruntled.
You know, this is the most fun I've had in months! And the most interesting part is it is a custom portrait, not something I'm doing for myself or a competition. This is a WIP of Preston, a very wet Welsh Corgi that just discovered that water can swallow you whole. During the photo shoot we took a stroll along the bank of The Little Miami, East Fork Branch. Preston followed his Labrador Retriever housemate straight into the river without a thought. He'd never been in water over his head. He sank like a stone, then bobbed up with an expression of pure shock! Pres isn't entirely sure water is to be trusted ever again! This piece will eventually be 12x14" Painted on lovely blue linen mat with CARAN d"ACHE Luminance, PRISMACOLOR and DERWENT COLOURsoft pencils.
As I'm doing my usual Friday morning catch-up, it occurs to me that you might be interested in knowing a few things about me. You see me posting my art work fairly regularly on Facebook and my Pepper Portraits blog, but did you know that besides being a completely committed artist, I hold two part time jobs? Winning a few awards and getting published, does not guarantee a regular pay check. Nope, I go months sometimes without a sale. I'm married to a wonderful guy who pays most of the bills, but by no means makes enough money for me to do art 24-7. I have to at least cover groceries and vet bills, which with 2 older dogs and three cats, adds up, believe you me! So I continue to work as a vet assistant in a small animal veterinary practice. I've been working with vets since 2011- started in my 40's and still doing doggy yoga as I near 60. I feel like a thirty year old with no time to get old! My other job is a gallery portrait artist- picture framer -Girl Friday for a lovely little gallery, in a haunted brick building, in the small river town of Milford Ohio. There I teach portrait classes, frame picture, assist hanging shows and whatever else they might need of me.
Ha ha, Just kidding! My recent post of the "finished" commission was about two more full days and a lot of erasing away from being finished. My client was happy with first edition, but not completely. She asked me to make the bangs more "blonde" and soften the bags under the eyes. And if I didn't mention it before, she asked me to change her teeth a bit from the photograph. She never liked them. So this is what doing commissions is all about! And this is why contracts are a good idea. Changes take time. In this case though, I couldn't charge her for my extra efforts. The changes were too subtle. And the teeth were part of the initial agreement. Unfortunately, working this small, forced me to erase back almost all of the cheeks and face in order to lighten the bangs and find the correct over all values. Once completed, this little graphite drawing took as much time and effort as a full color 8x10"! It was very difficult, but worth the tricks learned. At one point I was terrified that I would have to start all over again. But, the Fabiano Artistico 150 wt Hot Pressed paper, which was recommended by an amazing artist friend of mine Alan Woollett, turned out to be quite forgiving. So here is the really, not kidding, for sure, finished 7.5x 8.5 graphite commission of a small girl.
I just finished two small paintings for a lovely client who wished to create the perfect gifts for her two children: table top original portraits of their two dogs. Each child chose a puppy fourteen years ago. They are now gray in the muzzle and a little slower, but otherwise healthy. The children, both in college, miss their pups. I spent a few hours one afternoon, photographing and getting to know the dogs, while also learning about the family and the mom. The photographs and expressions were chosen by her. We wished to capture each dog's personality in a tiny 5x7 head shot. This is not an easy task. In fact, a lot can be lost in one small tick of the pencil. I struggled with these. There was concern that the dog Ed, looking at the viewer and pleading to be petted, might appear to be giving dominant eye contact. Thanks to my husband's suggestion, a touch of dark to the eyebrow made the difference in the perceived expression. The other dog, Lucy held a strange pose which finally necessitated the inclusion of parts of her foreleg; otherwise her head would have seemed tipped over.
I decided to use colored linen mat as the surface to give these a painterly feel. Lucy, who is mostly black, is painted on a dark blue mat and Ed, who has a lot of browns and reds, is on a red mat. Using colored mat board, even if completely covered with pigment, is similar to an under paint wash and provides tone.
When my client finally saw the finished pieces she was completely satisfied. This is a blessing, because I never know what a client will think until they have the art in hand. Now I can relax for a bit and paint something new, something BIGGER.
This is a first! While working out the composition for a full colored pencil commission , I sent a picture of the pencil sketch to my client. She immediately shot an email back asking me to "STOP!" She liked the pencil sketch so much, she wished to buy it as is. Of course I'll "clean" it up a bit before I let it go. Here's the most recent photo. I will continue to darken a little here and there and brighten a highlight or two. The piece started out as a horizontal, but the client wanted me to show pool water, so now it is square. Interesting development, wouldn't you agree?
This triptych study of my daughter's cat Linus has had more Facebook shares and likes and pins than I ever imagined. I did several cp paintings from the series of reference photos taken of Linus two from the graphite study. The graphite triptych sold to an extreme cat lover who set aside money from her limited retirement income for five months. She was delighted to finally unwrap the framed piece after months of waiting. As luck would have it, I was at the gallery to witness the reveal. It was a great moment for both of us. Just a simple pencil drawing, but well loved. These moments are what keep me on track. No matter the medium, if a portrait reaches into someone's heart, it is a success.
This portrait commission was completed this week. Baby Brother, 16x14" colored pencils on rag mat board, client reference. Someday I'll go into the process of creating newborn coloring. It was painfully difficult. All the blending and shadow! The little fingers make this piece come alive, don't you think?
This wonderful Pitbull mix, was a rambunctious, sweet dog and represented the best personality traits of a much misunderstood bloodline. If this portrait sells, part of the proceeds will go to the SPCA ,where many of her kind wait to be adopted. This portrait would never have happened if not for the devoted couple who adopted her as a puppy.