Pastel Pet Portrait Artist - Creating Monty's Portrait in Pastels
Learn about me creating a large pastel portrait of my Miniature Schnauzer Monty | Amy Elizabeth Fine Art - Pastel Pet Portrait Artist
I have previously written a blog post about the portraits I have done of Monty. As my own dog and very much the love of my life, I do like to paint his portrait!
How I initially started drawing was because I had seen the work of a pastel pet portrait artist online and I wanted a portrait of Monty. I thought why not have a go myself? Since then, I haven't stopped.
As I have progressed with my work, my portraits of Monty are initial pieces in my journey as a pastel pet portrait artist. My ability and style have progressed and I wanted to create a portrait of him using my new skills. I was also using his portrait as an opportunity to try out some new paper. Velour paper is a type of pastel paper that has a furry kind of texture that grips the pastels, allowing layers of colour to be built up. It doesn't allow for quite as much detail to be added but does allow for a more painterly effect. Not being to get as much detail in meant I was keen to create a larger pastel pet portrait.
Pastel Pet Portrait Artist - The Photo Reference
Anyone who has checked out my website will know that I do put a lot of effort into helping people get the best quality photo of their pets. Not am I only a pastel pet portrait artist, but also a keen photographer. I love nothing more to get lovely photographs of Monty, to ensure I have plenty of him to remember our time together.
I normally say that it is best to go through the process of taking photos specifically for your pastel pet portrait, as the things that make a high-quality reference photo can be slightly different from just your average nice photo of your pet. Things like not being on "portrait mode" make a difference as to how much is in focus for example.
So, I took my time in getting exactly the right photo. Not only did I want the exact right photo that showed off Monty's personality and looks but I also wanted it to be slightly different from the portraits I had done before of him. I think I had maybe 3 or 4 different little photoshoots before I got a decent picture. (Although I do wish I had brushed his beard and eyebrows (!)) The photo was taken in the garden in the early evening. There was a soft but bright light and I got the photo just as he caught sight of a bird taking flight. I like that he has a nice alert look on his face and in his eyes and I also like that he is in a slightly different position from his other portraits.
Pastel Pet Portrait Artist - The Composition
I had decided to go big for Monty's portrait so I just had to work out how big. The velour pastel paper I had bought was 50x70 cm sheets. I decided on an 18x24 inch composition, which worked well with the photo I had taken.
As of writing this, I still haven't decided on a background colour for the portrait, I am being rather indecisive. I am leaning toward maybe a dark blue for a bit of drama. It is a tough decision though!
Pastel Pet Portrait Artist - Getting Started
As mentioned before I hadn't worked on Velour paper before, throughout my career as a pastel pet portrait artist, I had always worked on pastelmat paper. For the people who are not familiar with it, pastelmat has the texture of very fine sandpaper.
I thought I might as ell get going and see how it went. I wasn't sure how it would turn out as it is all a bit of a learning curve. I guess I can liken it to driving a new car, you know the basic skills are the same, but everything just feels a little bit different.
Pastel Pet Portrait Artist - The Progress
I have to say I really enjoyed creating Monty's portrait. The process was nice and smooth. I quickly got used to how velour pastel paper worked. My pastel sticks were ideal for the initial layers and most of my pastel pencils were able to add in finer detail. I especially like the leather collar and how that has turned out. There is enough detail there to know what it is but it still has a lovely painterly quality to it.
As a pastel portrait artist, there are lots of direction you can head in with your work, you can be incredibly detailed on pastel mat, or create more abstract or loose depictions of pets. I think my work on velour was a good combination of the two.
With all pet portraits on pastel it is a case of building up many layers of colour to get an accurate depiction of the fur. With the velour I was able to build up layers and layers, working in a similar way to oil painting, with each layer getting more detailed and intricate, but starting off looking quite abstract. As the artwork progresses, it comes to life.
Pastel Pet Portrait Artist - My Thoughts So Far
I absolutely love how Monty's portrait looks. As a pastel pet portrait artist, all I want for my client is for them to love their portrait and to think it is a real true artistic depiction of their pet, that they can cherish for years to come. I feel that I do love it, and my only concern is I really need to decide on a background colour! (That and the fact I have no idea where it is going to fit on the wall!). It is really exciting to be getting such good results from early drawings on such a different kind of paper. I cannot wait to see the works I will be able to create after more experience with the medium.
To read more about my lovely dog Monty click Here.
To read about commissioning your own pet portrait click here.