My apologies for lack of posts but I've been busy with commissions. I'll try and post a few of them soon.
The little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is often mixed up with a slightly smaller dog called the King Charles Spaniel and yet the two are different, particularly in their head shape. If you'd like to see an example of a King Charles Spaniel, have a look here and you'll see what a King Charles looks like; you'll notice that the King Charles has much more of a snub nose than the Cavalier. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a very popular little dog in the UK and with its happy temperament and ever wagging tail, it's easy to see why.
I am delighted to announce that prints of the above painting are now available to purchase in a variety of formats from Redbubble. To purchase click on the 'Prints' page of my website and then Open Edition Prints.
I would like to thank Noël Zia Lee who took the photograph on which this painting is based for her kindness and generosity in allowing prints to be made available.
I have just managed to get a better photograph of this painting (well remembered to do so to be honest) and thought I would tell you about the first time I got to know a rottweiler. It was many years ago, when we lived in London near Hyde Park. A couple who lived near us had two young rottweilers and the wife told me that her husband had wanted two guard dogs - they were rather wealthy! - but she had wanted two cuddly, pretty dogs and so they settled on rottweilers as being the perfect match. Well, I never discovered how they were at their guard duties, although I suspect very good, but as cuddly, pretty dogs they were perfect and certainly very friendly to those invited to their house, just wanting to play!
It's a shame rottweilers have developed a reputation for aggressiveness because although very strong, when they are properly brought up, they are lovely dogs.
Through The Window - 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite
Well another reflection painting but this time involving a window rather than a floor. Yes I admit it, I am rather obsessive in nature and I am now addicted to reflection paintings! I will try and force myself not to keep painting them all the time, but it is quite hard to do so!
'Through The Window' was fun to paint; I often have parts of a painting which I particularly like and in this painting, I love the way the sunlight captures the outline of the JRT (Jack Russell Terrier to non-dog people - although having said that I wonder how many non-dog people would read a blog like mine?)
This painting took rather a long time to paint owing to the patterning of the stripes and the muscular bodies of the tigers - it needed a considerable amount of attention not to get lost amongst all those patterns! It reminds me so much of the Chinese Yin Yang symbol which I am sure you will all know but just in case you don't here is an example:
I've realised that although I know the symbol so well, I know very little of its meaning other than it represents the balance of nature and life. It will be intesting to do some research and learn more about it - I always enjoy learning something new.
I find this painting harmonious and very pleasingly balanced - I hope you do too!
This painting is straight off the easel and still very wet - it will need several days at least before it can be shipped.
About This Painting:
Size: 7 in X 5 in (17.8 cm X 12.7 cm)
Another 'reflections' painting as I do so enjoy painting them! This is the first in a series of 3 and I don't think you'll need to be a genius to guess that the other two will feature black and chocolate labradors.
Just one other small point; often yellow labradors are misnamed and called golden labradors. There is a very good reason why they should be described as 'yellow' and not 'golden' and that is to avoid any mix up with golden retrievers since of course the full title of a labrador is a labrador retriever and you can see how easily misunderstandings would occur if you had golden labrador retrievers and golden retrievers!
Whoops! I forgot to add that this painting is straight off the easel and so will need to dry for several days before it can be shipped and that it is based on a photograph by davco9200 at Flickr.
At The End Of My Tether - 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite
Well not only is this little dog at the end of its tether, I am almost at the end of mine, trying to get a decent photograph of the painting - yes, sorry I know, I can hear you saying - as usual!! Not being a photographer, I don't understand why some colours just seem to fade into the background and can only be brought out with photoshop. However, I have finally got this photograph quite close to the actual painting - something I do feel is very important when you're offering your work for sale. I would be terribly upset if someone received a painting and they weren't happy with it if for instance I had misled them with an inaccurate photo. Thankfully this has never yet happened - and fingers tightly crossed it never will!
I hope those of us who own dogs, never make them wait for us for too long and in fact the dog in the painting appears quite happy waiting for its owner's return, even if it is standing at the very extremity of its leash on the sun-dappled pavement.
This painting is straight off the easel and will need to dry for several days before it can be shipped
My thanks to Elsie esq. at Flickr for the reference photo on which this painting is based
Reservoir Dog - Mr Pink - 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite
I smile everytime I think of the title of this painting and I imagine that most people will know that it is taken from the film Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino and that one of the characters in the film was Mr Pink. I love the photo used as the cover for the CD of the film music with the men walking in the bright overhead sunshine, giving them intense dark shadows - hence my 'dog' version recreated in this painting and of course the pink harness reveals which character is being played!
I must though admit now that I haven't actually watched Reservoir Dogs and never will - however good a film it is, I simply can't watch violent films - oh dear, I know, stupid but there it is!
With thanks to nickton at Flickr for the reference photograph
Safe And Sound - 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite
There is no question in my mind that when you look into the eyes of a dog, you are looking into the eyes of a creature with a mind of great complexity; a personality, not a mere 'animal'. This is one of the reasons I am so obsessed with painting eyes correctly and perhaps the part I see most often incorrectly painted.
There is a huge variation in the size and shape of the eyes of different dog breeds and within those breeds there are still quite large differences. It is vitally important if you want to paint dog portraits accurately, that you pay huge attention to the eyes and if the photograph you have doesn't show them clearly, you simply can't just copy the eyes of another dog. It would be like painting the eyes of one human if you didn't have a clear photo of the person you were painting.
Of course if you are painting a dog no longer alive and there are no clear photographs, you are in somewhat of a dilemma. Frankly, quite often the owner will not have a clear memory of the exact eye shape - although it's surprising if they don't remember the expression. Very often you will get clues from the shape of the head, particularly just above and below the eye.
I can only urge dog portrait artists to see dogs! Go to dog shows where you will see large numbers of different breeds - look at them - really look at them and see them. Too often people look without seeing.
Well I think that's enough nagging for today! I hope you enjoy this little chihuahua.
Surely one of the hardest things about painting darker paintings in oils is getting an accurate photo of them! I have seen lots of different advice but I think that probably the only real answer is to have a proper lighting kit which is beyond those who aren't professional photographers.
After about an hour I have managed to get a good representation of the original painting. It's been great fun to paint - I love the dog's thoughtful expression and of course one of my favourite pastimes - painting reflections!
With thanks to HeyRocker at Flickr for the reference photograph
Sitting Pretty - French Bulldog 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite
I saw this photo and just fell in love with it; I adore the little dog's alert yet calm expression and very relaxed sitting position.
It is strange with photographs - and paintings of course - how sometimes things which seem of little importance actually give the whole picture balance, harmony and interest. In this painting, whilst of course the French Bulldog is the main point of interest, the collar and lead add satisfying balance and a great deal of visual interest; who is on the other end of the lead? Or is the dog tied up? To me he is a dog tied up outside a shop while his owner pops in to buy a special little cake which he is going to share with his friend.
It is straight off the easel and will need to dry for several days before it can be shipped
By thanks to Wrote at Flickr for releasing the photo on which this painting is based
Ch Dvojica Voodoo - Watercolour on Saunders Waterford NOT
16" x 20" (external mount measurement)
Today's painting is a portrait of the top winning bitch, Magic. Here is a list of some of her wins:
She is the biggest winning Dalmatian in UK history and was Top Dalmatian in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. She is also the holder for the most amount of Best of Breeds at Crufts, and has won the most amount of Groups and Best in Show at Breed Club shows. She has also won the coveted titles of Dalmatian of the Year, for 2005 and 2009.
More importantly though she is a much loved and loving pet.You can tell so much about the character of a dog by looking at its face and it is obvious from looking at her that Magic is sweet natured girl. What a doll!
I do apologise to my friends for my sporadic posts of late - I promise to try and do better from now on (mind you notice I am only promising to try!!)
I am pleased to present Cleo, one of the paintings from my charity drive. I must warn you all now that there is a preponderance of Dalmatians in this effort, but I think this is mainly due to the large number of Dalmatians friends I have on facebook. However, don't worry, other breeds are also represented!!
I am frequently requested by artists if I will critique their portraits and I am very happy to do this. Most wish this to be done privately and of course I understand this, but if there are any out there who would like their efforts to be included on this blog, please let me know - there are a lot of artists at the beginning of their careers who would thank you. I am asked many, many times, what is the most important aspect of pet portraits and I suppose I would give the same answer, whether it was for an animal or human portrait and that is that you need to portray the personality and spirit of the subject. I would rather see a rough and ready portrait which portrayed personality, rather than a polished painting which was bland and without spirit, any day. However, for me the aim is to paint a realistic portrait which is both lively and reveals the character of the subject.
I would also add that I am quite often asked to paint human portraits. I used to paint these but stopped a while ago owing to, I suppose, a disillusionment with the human race. I might be persuaded to paint another human one of these days - who knows - but I cannot at the moment imagine how!
For now, if you would like a portrait of your beloved pet immortalised by me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is my latest commission - or rather the latest finished one - of Louise Clement's handsome boy, Blinken. At Louise's request, I painted Blinken with a black background and his reflection as if he was lying on a shiny floor.
If you would like to commission a painting of your own pet, please email me at email@example.com or click on the menu above.
Violet - 20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper
Following my full body portrait of Violet, her owner was so pleased that she decided to commission me to paint a head study of Violet. It is always a pleasure to paint these little dogs - they are so confident of their own importance and you can see it in their expressions. Violet's owner tells me she is no exception and always expects to be the centre of attention (and she gets it!)
I thought you might also be interested to see a photo I took of the painting when I had reached my initial 'stage one' phase ie I had painted her eyes and nose - although neither of these finished - and a rough blocking in of the rest of her head.
If you have any questions, either about a painting technique you think I might be able to help you with, or about a painting you'd like to commission from me, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Irish Setter - Katie - 20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper
My latest commission is this pretty girl, Katie, an Irish or Red Setter. I did take a photo of her at the usual 'stage one' phase ie I had painted her eyes with a fair amount of detail and added tone to the rest of her but unfortunately it isn't very clear and so I decided not to show it here.
Often I don't have the opportunity to meet the subjects of my paintings but sometimes I do and it's always a pleasure. I was fortunate enough to meet Coco - the German Shorthaired Pointer from my previous post - and I am hoping that Katie's owner will bring her along when she comes to collect the painting.
To commission a painting, please email me at email@example.com or feel free to ask any questions you may have.
German Shorthaired Pointer - Coco - 20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper
Here is the finished portrait of Coco. Following on from the last stage shown in my previous post, I next worked on her eyes again until they were almost as shown here. I could then get down to all the detailed work on the rest of her. As I've mentioned previously, I don't paint individual hairs with a fine brush as I prefer what I feel is a more natural look, achieved by splaying out a round sable brush. This is a technique which does require a fair bit of practice and will also involve careful lifting of colour in certain areas and blending in others. My aim is to paint a realistic portrait which doesn't look like a photo but looks more than a photo - I want - well what do I want? I want to make the dog live!
I am pleased to tell you that Coco is alive and well and a very loved family member. Her mum burst into tears when she saw the painting - and I can assure you it wasn't from disappointment! Apparently the painting is now hanging on the wall for all to admire :)
Coco - 20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper (WIP)
This is my latest commission which I have just recently finished. Here I am showing the first completed stage. The drawing has been done and the background wash has been laid down - as usual a watery mixture onto stretched, dry paper. I paint with the board at a slight angle so the paint, when watery, will run down. I start with a darker mixture at the very top of the paper (in fact this part will eventually be covered with a mount) and gradually add more and more clear water to the brush so that the mixture becomes lighter as it nears the dog's head. Once past the ears, I add the more of the water/paint mixture to the very edges, to bring more colour into the painting and then add a strip of darker paint at the bottom. I then quickly add more clear water so that the background mixes in with the bottom of the dog's neck. I hope that makes sense. All this is done as quickly as I possibly can and as I said in a previous post, I can't stop for anything when laying in this wash as otherwise it would leave ugly hard edges wherever the paint was allowed to dry.
As is usual, I painted Coco's eyes in first so that we could develop a 'relationship' and then her nose. The rest of her head, neck and ears followed gradually and what you see here is in fact not one layer of paint, but already several laid into each other. You'll notice some hard edges on her forehead and a few other places. As the painting progressed I eventually softened these by scrubbing at the area with an old half inch square edged brush and clear water. I have had this particular 'scrubbing' brush for ages now and hope it lasts for ever as I know it would take ages to break a new one in. I'll try and remember to take a photograph of it one day and show you. I will post the finished painting tomorrow.
Dalmatian Ch Dvojica Voulez Vous (Frida) - work in progress
20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford 100% cotton rag paper
I thought it might be of interest to show the completed first stage of a watercolour painting. At this point in the procedure, I have painted in the background wash. This wash is made from a mixture of lamp black, burnt sienna and a dash of raw umber and is a very watery mixture. I don't dampen my paper first but lay this wash in as quickly as I possibly can with a 1" wide flat brush. If the phone rings or someone comes to the door when I am doing this part of the painting, I don't answer. I simply can't stop during the laying in of the wash or it will dry leaving horrid hard edges and would need to be thrown away. I don't paint over the dog's head although I don't worry if I overlap a little here and there but I make sure to touch every part of the outline or there would be a noticeable white gap which can't be filled in without it noticing.
As this wash is laid onto dry paper, it doesn't take very long to dry so there's just time for a short coffee break usually! The next area to be worked on is the eyes as I very much dislike looking at a 'dead' dog while I paint. So, for the eyes, I do enough work to enable the dog to look back at me. I usually then paint the nose in but with less detail than the eyes. After these two important areas are finished, I then start to lay in washes of tone and this is the same whether the dog is long or short coated. As these toned areas start to develop it is possible to 'feel' the shape of the dog and model it - in my head I imagine touching that part of the dog which helps to ensure accuracy. As this painting is of a Dalmatian, the spots come next. In fact some of the spots here are a little darker than I prefer and I did lift a little of the colour with clear water before putting in the detail. Although in the final painting it will barely notice, it will just add a touch of depth to the painting.
I will show the completed painting tomorrow with more details about it's creation.
If you have any questions, or would like to commission a painting please either visit the commissions page of my website, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shih Tzu - "Violet" - 20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper
Here is my latest commission - a very pretty Shih Tzu called Violet. I've always found these little dogs absolutely full of character, seeming to consider themselves much larger dogs. They do think they are important as can be seen from Violet's expression!
"Dark Guardian" - 7" x 5" oil on hardboard/masonite
I may well not be working on many small paintings in the future as I am planning to concentrate on creating some larger wildlife paintings alongside my commissions. I've had this painting nearly completed for a while now and so just added the finishing touches to it yesterday.
Just a quick note to say that I see my website has gone down. It is too late to look into it tonight, so I shall have to leave it until tomorrow when I will hopefully get it back online. Apologies for any inconvenience.
Here is my latest commission - this painting being of a lurcher. When you look at this bitch's expressive, sensitive face, it is hard to accept that she was a rescue case suffering from a severe injury when her new family took her on. She blossomed and thrived in their care and has been a very happy family pet and number one dog for many years now.
If you would like to commission a portrait of your pet, please click on the navigation bar above - either 'Commissions' for basic information or 'Commissions in detail' for more information about the process. You can also email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to help and answer any questions you may have.
Sh Ch Wiljana Waterfall - 20" x 16" watercolour on Saunders Waterford paper
This is another of my Christmas commissions - well not strictly Christmas as it wasn't a present but a painting to honour the memory of a much loved girl who lived a full life and to a very good age. A top winner, she achieved the fantastic win of Reserve Best In Show at the world famous Crufts Dog Show in 2000.
This photo isn't as good as I would have wished as it was taken as the light was getting low but hopefully it is good enough for the detail to be seen - and also for it to be obvious what a very beautiful girl she was.
To commission a painting or purchase an original or print, please visit my main website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This next Christmas commission consists of two paintings - a head study and a full body portrait - a double rememberance of a dog who died at far too early an age and is desperately missed by his owners. I am showing the head study today.
These were difficult paintings for me, not technically, but emotionally. One of the reference photographs sent, while not suitable for the pose of either painting, was a very close up shot and one I looked at often to really get to know Dyson - he was obviously a lovely dog and I can totally understand his owners' heartbreak.
Dyson's owner let his wife into the secret (they had been planned as a surprise Christmas present for her) after he had seen emails of the paintings and I know that when they were received, it was both with joy and heartache. I am glad that they have now plucked up the courage and hung them, so that Dyson can in a small way still be with them. On a brighter note, I am very pleased indeed to report that they now share their lives with a Dalmatian puppy named Ditto who has brought laughter back into their lives.
To commission a painting or purchase an original or print, please either visit my main website or email me at email@example.com
Welsh Springer Spaniel - Sh Ch Glenbrows Picture This JW ShCM (Luka) - 20" x 16" oils on canvas
Here is another of my Christmas commissions - this time complicated by Luka's owner's wife having access to his emails through her phone, hence the need for surreptitious text messages between us! I think around Christmas time I must walk around constantly looking shifty as I am always keeping so many secrets!
When this painting was finished there was the added complication of unheard of early snowfalls in the UK and on the day I was due to take Luka's painting for framing, I wasn't sure how I was going to get to the framer. As it was the journey was very scary - not that the snow was too deep, but the roads were very slippery with snow and ice. Anyway, we got there in our tank - old Volvo 240 - and my wonderful framer sorted it all out for me, including arranging the courier to collect and deliver the painting. I breathed a sigh of relief when I knew that Luka had arrived safely at his home in time for Christmas! I am pleased to report that the painting takes price of place in Luka's home - well I suppose second place after the gorgeous Luka himself!
If you would like to commission a painting or buy an original or a print or cards, please either visit my main website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(It occurred to me that some people might not know what the initials before and after Luka's show name mean - Sh Ch stands for Show Champion and ShCM means Show Certificate of Merit)
Ch Camargue Gucci Envy (Lola) - 16" x 20" watercolour on Saunders Waterford watercolour paper
As many of you will know, I was busy before Christmas completing commissions which were to be given as Christmas presents and couldn't therefore be shared with you. The first of these paintings, a head study of a Dalmatian, which I am now showing you, was actually planned as a birthday present to be given in February, but when it arrived shortly after Christmas, her owner couldn't resist giving the painting to his wife - and so now has to find another present for her!
I actually managed to take a work in progress photo of this painting and here it is:
As you can see, I have painted all the spots in and started adding colour to her eyes and some shadings on the head and neck. The shaded areas are made in a couple of different ways; one method is to drop colour into pools of clear water previously painted on the surface, and the other is to paint using a very watery colour and then soften the edges with clear water. If you leave hard edges they can be the very devil to get rid of - so I don't leave them! I think you can just see that I have also put in a few strokes to indicate the lay of the coat and if you look at the spots you will see that their edges also indicate which way the fur is lying. I like to get the eyes of the dog painted as soon as possible in any of my paintings, as I totally detest looking at them without eyes as they seem 'dead' and I want them alive as soon as I can manage it!
If you have any questions, either about commissioning a painting or purchasing an original painting, print or card, please email me at email@example.com. Also if you have any art related questions, please email me and I will be happy to help. I will do this in confidence if you prefer or if you'd like to share your journey with other readers, that could be fun - so let me know.