The Portrait of Duffy was a new challenge. Never had done a painted portrait with acrylic paints. That’s okay. Experiments, learning curves, and self doubt are all good for something. The portraits are based on photos that me or other people take of the subjects. Duffy’s body looks completely foreshortened. My friend Alan, who was also a painter, encouraged me throughout the process.
Duffy is a Newfoundland cross with a Cocker Spaniel, so I was told. He has the bigger foofy head with droopy eyes and a smaller body. Lots of fur to trim. His body is trimmed in this picture, which exaggerates the foreshortening. Also, I cut off the feet to emphasize his expression. I have never met him, but he has a striking expression.
This could be called the Blue Dog, maybe. I don’t know. I started with purple underlay and switched to the blue accents. That’s easily done with acrylic paint.
On to the next portrait of a German Shepherd Dog that will be a pastel. Soft chalks and pastel pencil have a more familiar feel. But I totally enjoyed doing this portrait.
Knox is an enormous fellow with a bark that vibrates the front door of his owners’ home. He’s a sweet boy and a wonderful rescue dog, who loves his treats and chases the animals in his yard. He has one ear that is flopped. That doesn’t take away from his elegant presence in this pastel portrait. The Autumn setting and the late time of day, highlighted the red in his coat.
This artwork of Piper, a Shetland Sheepdog was a commemorative portrait. The photo I had to work from was very distorted with pixilated smears. It took much longer than expected to intuit the missing details. I looked at other photos and asked the owner which one looked like her. Fortunately, there was a picture that assisted me in her facial mask.
Rembrandt Pastel chalk was used for this dog portrait over a pastel pencil layout on BFK Reeves 100% rag paper. Working with pastel on a dog portrait allows a layering that gives some depth and dimension to the beautiful, luxuriant coat of Piper the Shetland Sheepdog.
Samson was a “Great Horse” or a large draft horse – a dappled Percheron. It is a very small 5″X 7″ colored pencil portrait on Bristol paper. Bristol Paper has a smooth surface that makes getting the details of Samson’s dappled color much easier.
I first met Samson when a friend and I took her daughter out to Windy Ridge Riding Stables to inquire about lessons. He was one of the few horses in the large coral area. He sauntered up to us like a friendly inspector as we were trying to get through a gate. He was enormous! My friend said, “Catherine, what do I do?” as she had her daughter in her arms.
“Be calm. He won’t hurt you.” Draft horses are generally pretty gentle with kids. And as time proved, in many later encounters, that he was a truly big, gentle guy.
This portrait was purchased by Mark Ward, the owner of the horse riding stable where I took riding lessons. He had Samson from a “baby”. Sadly Samson passed away not long after I made this portrait.
I really enjoy doing portraits of people and children, but I think this was lost in a fire. Luckily I made a record of it. This is a pastel portrait on pastel Canson paper. Alyson is all grown up now and has her own little boy.
Baukje has a long and distinguished career as a Special Education teacher, school Principal and specialist in main streaming special education students in Friesland in the Netherlands. Baukje has also been a language teacher.
Having had a Standard Poodle, whose sire was a hunting champion, I was inspired by this photo of Gary Scovel and his poodles, Beau and Scout. Poodles historically are bird dogs. I contacted him and asked permission to use the photo, which his friend took. Standard Poodles are marvelous dogs with many fine qualities. The characteristic French style cut of their hair which is seen in show poodles originates in the hunting fields of France.
The hair (not fur) on there chest and joints protects them from the brush and cold water while hunting. Historically a ribbon holds their topknot and identifies the dog in the field to the owners by the color.
This work above combines pastel chalk and pastel pencil to render this scene of pheasant hunting. the portrait was inspired after I viewed an old Dutch Master painting of dogs with their owner.
This was the first time I had seen Borzois at a lure coursing event in November. This beautiful Borzoi was so impressive. The colored pencil made drawing the details of the dogs coat a pleasure. I like the starkness of the landscape which frames his snowy coat. Borzois are sighthounds, who are attracted by animal movements. They are quiet and swift in the field. Lure coursing uses a mechanical, plastic lure. The lure travels through the field and the dog flies after it. This is a great activity to test the Borzoi’s hunting ability.
I enjoyed making this pastel portrait of these two healthy and happy Labrador retrievers. They were young and wiggly! Their owners had a time keeping them quiet for the photoshoot, but they were very sweet. The portrait made the owners very happy.
Labrador Retrievers are very popular dogs in the Upper Midwest of the USA.
It took a week to finish the colored pencil portrait of Maya pictured here. It is a small piece 8″ by 10″ on Bristol paper. This is a smooth surfaced paper which works well with layering the colors.
Most of the time, I use paint or pastels to create my own pieces. Using the colored pencils is a fun exercise in the use of color.
Someone stopped by my blog and commented on the drawing of Maya. There was surprise for me when I visited this person’s blog. There was a long post about taking drawing classes. It turned out this writer wanted to draw and paint, but suffered from terrible anxiety when it came time to start a painting class. There were many kind responses to this post. People shared many perspectives.
I studied painting, drawing, photography, lithography, etching and learned countless crafts to teach in school settings. With each phase, there was what I called the first day of the lesson. All the unknowns would be revealed – the teacher, the students, the lessons. I wanted to learn.
In my first figure drawing class in college, my professor told me that I drew “like a barbarian”. As I looked at the drawing he was looking at I realized he was correct. It took two years of drawing, for four days a week, to learn to draw with expressive lines that I could control.
After studying to be an art teacher and watching students evolve in art classes, I came to believe two very important things: First that anyone who wants to can learn to make art. Second all it takes is the desire and discipline to learn with an open beginner’s mind. That means (to me) Be there to try things out and don’t be afraid to fail. Every learning in life takes practice.
When I learned how to make lithographic prints, I had one of the top lithographers in the country as a teacher. He was very strict. You cannot fudge a process like lithography, which takes many steps before you have a completed print. In the beginning of my two years of practicing this technique, I made every mistake in the book. It was a slow process of learning, that taught me the value of learning from my mistakes. The perspective I gained gave me a sense of humor about being human and not giving up.
This attitude has kept me going with my cooking experiments, at my blog Kunstkitchen and anything new that’s worth learning. I tell myself , “Just show up and see what comes to you.” That’s life.
Four Stages of the portrait process of the pencil drawing of Maya the labrador Retriever
The King Charles Spaniel is a digitally redone photo portrait, which I captured at a dog show last year. This effect give the look of a black and white block print.
The cat portraits are also digitally enhanced photos.
The British Short Hair Cat belonged to my gracious niece, Sabina, who has helped me with my online venture to share my work. His name was Toenje. A most interesting and aloof creature, who charmed me from the moment we met. He has passed over the Rainbow Bridge.
More recently, I have taken to using digital photos for my drawings and paintings.