Monday, April 30, 2007

Drawing grass in coloured pencil

I have been asked today for some advice on drawing grass from someone who saw my Pet Portrait of Strath. It was really nice to be singled out specifically for advice and made me feel all pleased with myself lol! In response I added some of my photos i'd taken of the work in progress and did a demo on the pet portrait forum i'm an administrator of. I thought i'd add it here too, in case it might be of interest to anyone else.

First of all I did about 4 layers of 'underpainting' alternating between layers of 'green' and 'light green' to get the depth of colour.

Even though it was underpainting I still did my strokes in the correct direction and kept them short. By using the different colours it started to create the illusion of light and shadow on the blades of grass:

I then used 'Indigo' over all the grass except for the very light areas. At this stage i'm drawing individual blades of grass. Because grass doesn't all point in the same direction, I drew the 'blades' quite randomly, overlapping each other and different lengths. I also dotted the blades around so I didn't end up drawing blades of grass in rows, I sort of drew clumps. After the indigo I went over the whole lot quite lightly, like a wash, with 'blue' which sort of created a burnishing effect and dulled down the really bright green:

Lastly I used 'black' for the shadow areas. I did the black like I did the indigo - random clumps of individual strokes of grass. In the shadow areas like underneath the front legs in this pic I drew my strokes downwards, leaving gaps, which created the illusion of highlighted blades in the shadows. Beacuse it's in coloured pencil I had to plan ahead and leave gaps for where the grass would overlap the body:

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pet Portraits waiting list

I had an organisational day yesterday and started by writing out a list of the Pet Portraits I currently have outstanding. I have four on the waiting list, which are as follows:
  • A greyhound called Rosie, who I started ages ago and is a voucher portrait donated for a website auction in aid of Greyhound Rescue
  • A Westie named Jack
  • A Brittany Spaniel named Harry, who i've already started
  • A surprise for a Birthday

I'm really pleased with having 4 commissions on the list, that's the most i've ever had at one time, except for Christmas.

I also went through my emails ans sorted through the reciprocal link requests, I have quite a few through now, and am a bit fussy about who I swap with - I don't worry too much about the page rank but i'll only link to relevant sites and I don't link to those who send me emails without adding my link to their site first. I just think that's rude!! I had some going back to January!

I have also joined the bandwagon and got a myspace page. It's taking a while to get used to it - the navigation is just useless - i'm still ending up at my edit profile page by accident! I have worked out how to change the background and the fonts and I have a few friends now too. Here it is, just send a request if you'd like to be added as a friend.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Springer Pet Portrait complete!

I finally finished the graphite Pet Portrait of the three Springer Spaniels today. The customer wanted me to put the dog's names on it, which is something i've not done before, but I copied a swirly font off of the PC and I think it looks pretty good. Here it is:

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


The Springer Spaniels aren't quite finished, but they're nearly there. Just the neck fur on Molly and the names to write underneath. Here is the portrait so far:

And here is the latest commission i've just started, a Brittany Spaniel, named Harry. The portrait is 8" x 10" and will be in coloured pencil. I have just drawn his outline, and here it is:

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Springer Spaniels nearly finished.

I have been working on the Springer Spaniels portrait over the last few days and it should be finished tommorrow. I have completed Clyde now and just need to do one half of Molly and then it will be done. Unfortunately I still have no camera battery, but i'll get one tommorow so I can photograph the finished portrait. I also started a new pet portrait today, for the second time! I wasn't happy with the composition, so started again today and am much happier with it. It's of a Brittany Spaniel, and I will post a picture of it tommorrow along with the Springer Spaniels.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Pets Blog

I have just started a new blog to run alongside the new Pets section on the website. Here it is here: Pet Blog - articles, advice and information. The first post explains what it's all about.


Monday, April 23, 2007

New website now online

I got it finished this afternoon and the new Laura's Pet Portraits is now online. I'm really pleased with it, especially the funky lightbox in the gallery. It's only really the layout and colours that have changed, the majority of text is exactly the same except for the pricing structure is now different and the gallery. I've also changed the shop, to try and make it more professional and a section in it's own right, rather than just an 'extra'. I change the blog template over the next few days so the colours all blend in.

Click the link to have a look: Laura's Pet Portraits

Let me know what you think.

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More Excitement

Well I had an excitement packed weekend. After the fun with the cars Friday and Saturday, I thought Sunday would be a nice relaxing day - but no! Steve decided he'd get started sorting out the Surf, so was taking a hose off of a spare engine sat on a pallet, when the engine slipped and wedged his hand between the engine and knife he was using to remove the hose. He came in the house, and called upstairs to me, "Honey, can you take me to the Hospital!". Charged downstairs to find him filling the sink with blood, attempting to mop himself up with kitchen roll, trail of blood from the back door. So I gave him a tea towel with my eyes shut (i'm not good with blood) and drove him down the hospital, which is in Wick, about 2 minutes from our house. He'd managed to cut the side of his little finger in a curve. Apparently it was really deep, he could see all the insides of his finger, all the funny pink stuff. I didn't look, he told me all this while I was driving to the hospital with my stomach churning. He had 7 stitches and got bandaged up and sent home. They were very quick. Only took about hour and a half from him doing it to getting home again. He managed to take it easy for about 2 hours then thought he'd go and put the hose on the car! So, of course, it started bleeding again, so I sent him back up the hospital and he'd managed to pull out one of the stitches. The doc said he'd be ok though, and it hurt more last night after coming back from the hospital the second time than it had earlier, so I think it taught him a lesson.

And on a happier note, my car now seems to be fine. The alternator is working, took it out Sunday and no flashing lights. Hmm. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Websites and Cars

The last couple of days I have spent a lot of time working on my new website design. I have completed all of the Pet Portrait Commission pages, and now am working on the Shop. I've done most of the front product pages, just the detailed ones to go and a couple of new information pages to build. I'm pleased with how it's going, and I may even have it up and running by the end of April.

The other thing I seem to have been doing a lot of is stressing over cars! Steve collected a new (to him, at least!) Toyota Hi-Lux Surf yesterday evening. The guy selling it delivered it to Inverness, all the way from Perth, arriving about 7.45pm, so Steve was driving up to Wick last night and about half nine, I get a phone call, " Honey, i've broken down, can you come out with a torch and some water". So off I go, and when I get there we pour a load of water into the engine and Steve says, "I can hear water", and yes, you guessed it, it's running out of the engine, all over the floor. After a brief search he discovers a massive spilt in the top hose, so he called the trusty RAC man, who towed him home, arriving eventually at midnight! He thinks it's due to an air lock in the system as the temperature guage was going up and down eratically and the heater didn't get hot, which are apparently signs pointing at an air lock.

So, due to Steve collecting the new vehicle, I had to take him to work this morning as his van was still at work, and I decided to take a little scenic jaunt on the way home and my car has decided she doesn't like scenic jaunts and threw a wobbly. There i was, happily driving along when there was a little click, I looked down at the dash and the rev counter has dropped to zero, the oil light's flashing and the battery light's come on, all in one go! So I stop the car, check the oil. There's still plenty there and she's not sounding all rattly. I've driven her often enough with little or no oil to know what she sounds like with no oil! I look underneath - no drips. I know diesel cars can go without electric, so if the battery is flat it's not a problem, as long as the car starts. Well, she did, so I decided to risk it and drive home. I stopped again to check the oil and also the fan belt which are both fine and decided it must be an electrical problem. I then spent the rest of the drive home panicing that there was a wire melting somewhere that was going to set the car on fire! Well it didn't and i'm home safe, as you can tell. Steve thinks it's probably the alternator.

I shall keep you posted!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spaniel ears in progress

Well today my camera battery died so I am unable to show you an up to date photograph of the Spaniel's portrait, so I have some step by steps of the spaniel ears that I took earlier in the week. First of all I roughly draw out the shadow areas in a 2B mechanical Pencil:

I then go over this is a darker pencil, because this Springer is one of the black and white ones I used a 7B in this case:

And finally I fill in the gaps, creating highlight areas by blending the darker shadows at the top and bottom of the paler areas and leaving the middles the lightest. This then creates the shape of the waves:

I can't believe it's the 19th of April already! Where is the year going? The week just whizzes by and I get to Friday and think, well I haven't even done half of what I wanted to achieve this week! This week has been a fun one. I should have finished the Springer Pet Portrait by the end of it and i've had loads of fun with the new rats. The babies are now in the big cage with Treacle and Charlotte and they are all sleeping together, all snuggled in the igloo. Tinkerbell is becoming a little confident mischief maker, she is often charging around with Treacle. I think Treacle is pleased she has new friends to play with. Quite often if I let them out in the afternoon Charlotte will go back to bed, and Treacled had no-one to play with, but this afternoon she was happily pea-fishing with Tinkerbell and Doughnut while Charlotte went back to sleep. Having four is great - double the trouble, but double the fun too!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Springer Spaniel update

Another small update on the graphite Springer Spaniels. I started on the third dog Molly today. As her ears overlap Clyde's slighly i'm going to draw her first so I don't end up in a muddle with the ears. Here it is so far:

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spaniel Pet Portrait update

Another update on the Pet Portrait of three Springer Spaniels, Smokey, Clyde and Molly. Here it is so far:

And here is a close up of the gorgeous Clyde:

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Springer Spaniel Portrait update

I have been very bad while my in-laws have been visiting and not done hardly any drawing at all. Today I am back with my routine though, and a renewed determination to stick to it. I have been working on the Pet Portrait of the 3 Springer Spaniels today and have got quite a bit done. I completed the second ear on the first Springer, Smokey, and have started on Clyde. Here it is so far:

Here is a close-up of the work I have done on Clyde. It isn't this dark in real life. I love the expression on Clyde's face. It is the classic snooty yet sad look that my Springer Spaniel, Tom, has so often.
And here is a close-up of Smokey with both of her ears completed.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pet Rat Photos

Well, as promised here are some photographs of my two new rats. They met Treacle and Charlotte today. I used the Bathroom as neutral territory and they got on ok. There was lots of bum sniffing and forced grooming accompanied by a few little squeaks from the babies, but that's all very normal, and I'm really pleased as there was no blood or fighting. Tommorrow I will put them together in the bathroom again, and if they're ok like they were today I shall move them into Treacle and Charlotte's play pen and see how they get on when the territory's not neutral.

Here are the pictures: This is Doughnut. She's a Cinnamon hooded and seems to be the quieter of the two, though she's still very friendly

This is Tinkerbell. She's a Mink Roan and as she gets older will lose her grey colouring and probably go completely white. She is the more adventurous of the two. Today in the bathroom she was off with Treacle exploring.

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Two new Pets!

I collected two new additions today to our Pet family - two baby ratties!! They are 8 and a half weeks old and are rescues from a litter from a doe who was sold pregnant by a Pet Shop. They are two girls, one is a cinnamon hooded, the other is a mink roan. The Mink is the colour, the roan means she is fading, so she looks grey and white and will eventually be all white. Steve has taken the Roan girl as his own and called her Tinkerbell, and I have named the cinnamon one Doughnut, as all I could think of when cinnamon was mentioned was Apple and Cinnamon doughnuts!! They are settling in really well, considering they had a five hour car trip to get here. They are incredibly friendly, already climbing out onto my hand and happily eating and bouncing about the cage like nutters. I can definitely see a difference between these home-reared babies and Treacle and Charlotte who were from the Pet Shop. They were so much more timid. The size difference is also really obvious. As I said, Doughnut and Tinkerbell are 8 and a half weeks and they are bigger than what Charlotte and Treacle were when I brought them home at 12 - 13 weeks. I didn't want to scare them with the camera tonight, but tommorrow I will post some photographs.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Shell Beach

My parents-in-law are staying with us at the moment so we are showing them a few of the sights. We had an absoloutely beautiful day today - blue skies, hardly any wind and lovely and warm, so we went to Shell Beach after tea to walk the dogs. Shell Beach is between John O' Groats and Duncansby Head and is so called beacuse the sand is made up of broken shells. It's amazing, i've never seen anything like it. I took loads of photographs, here is just a few. Enjoy!

This one is on Macro setting on my camera, and is a close-up of the shells.

Footsteps in the sand: I likes the footprints the dogs and us and the birds had made in the sand. Another one playing around with the macro setting.

This one I just liked the angle of the rocks - just playing with diagonal lead-in lines.

This is Jerry, my Springer Spaniel. I thought it was a nice arty-farty shot of the dog!

And this last one, I just loved the shape and smoothness of the rocks, again playing with diagonal lines.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Springer spaniels Pet Portrait update

I have done a little more today on my graphite portrait of the three Springer Spaniels. I have completed Smokey's right ear:

I have also been working recently on my website re-design. I have finally overcome 3 problems I was having with a couple of layout issues and a script error on my Gallery and I'm really pleased with it. I just need to amend a few more pages and the shop section and the new-look will be ready to go live! I'm really excited about it and as usual I really enjoyed the designing and learning new techniques.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Springer Spaniel Portrait update

Well I go for days without updating my blog, then add two posts in one day! After painting my pastel wolf earlier I did some more work on my current Pet Portrait - the Springer Spaniels in graphite pencil. There's not a huge difference since the last update, but i'm pleased with it so far:

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Wolf portrait in soft pastels

I couldn't resist the temptation to get playing with my pastels today so started with a demo in the Society for All Artists magazine. The demo is by wildlife artist Vic Bearcroft and it's of a wolf. He called the image 'free spirit'. His version of it is here on his website: It's under 'Wolves' and is the first one on display.

This is my version:
As you can see, not as good, but i'm still pleased with it, considering it must be 10 years since I last used pastels at school! I did mine on Ingres paper, instead of velour as the demo is on, purely because I have no velour paper. I found getting the fine detail with the black pastel hard work and I need some more colours. I did really enjoy it however, and will definitely be doing some more and it only took a couple of hours.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pastels for Pet Portraits

I've been shopping on ebay and bought myself a set of soft pastels. I have been inspired by some beautiful Pet Portraits i've seen painted in soft pastels and by the demos that are currently in the Society for All Artists magazine.

Soft pastels are dry crayons made from powdered pigment, weakly bound in a solution of gum tragacanth or methyl cellulose. They also contain a preservative and often a fungicide. Soft pastels are available in a range of grades - hard, medium and soft - and in different sizes and shapes. I've bought a set of 24 Inscribe pastels to see how I get on with them as a medium. I'm hoping if I can produce good enough results I can offer pastels as a cheaper colour alternative to coloured pencils. I will let you know how I get on - my results will be displayed here first - unless they're truly awful!!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Springer Spaniels portrait update

Today I have started on the detail on my current graphite pencil portrait of 3 Springer Spaniels. I do one small area to completion at a time, then move onto another area, and I have started on the black and white Springer, Smokey. I think Spaniel's ears are one of their most distinctive features, but also the one I find hardest to draw. The small part of Smokey's ear I completed today took me an hour! Here is the portrait so far:

And here is a close-up:

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