Pastel Pet Portraits UK - A Spotlight on Miniature Schnauzer Portraits
Learn about the creation of my first ever pastel pet portraits and coloured pencil pet portraits, of my Miniature Schnauzer by Amy Elizabeth Fine Art- Pastel Pet Portraits UK
I'll be honest here. I have a slight soft spot for Miniature Schnauzers. Why? Well, because I own one. My little dog Monty (a black and silver Miniature Schnauzer), is the whole reason I create pet portraits today.
It all started after I had owned my little bundle of joy and fur for just over a year. I had seen artists on Instagram creating beautiful pet portraits from photos of a range of animals, and dogs of all shapes and sizes including Miniature Schnauzers. Whilst I have always been a fairly keen photographer, since getting Monty. I had been diligent in always making sure I had taken at least a few nice photos of him every month, either whilst we were out and about, or at home in the garden with some nice flowers as a backdrop; I felt that a pet portrait was something a little special. I am still not 100% sure what it is about a pet portrait that makes it more special than a photo, but there is perhaps something in the time and care taken in creating it that makes it more special.
Once I had decided I would like a portrait of Monty, I thought I would have a go at creating my own custom pet portrait of him myself. Whilst being a fairly keen crafter, and one of those people who will have a go at any craft they fancy, I didn't have a huge amount of experience in creating realistic pet portraits from photos (!) I did some research and decided if I was going to try and do this, I would do this properly. (Anyone who knows me, is well aware I can be described as a perfectionist...) I researched what kind of pencils and materials "proper" artists used, and then purchased a ream of high-quality paper and a range of Faber-Castell coloured pencils in the colours I thought I would need for Monty's black and silver coat colouring. Whilst I am mainly now create pastel pet portraits, I initially started off in coloured pencils.
Creating my very first pet portrait of a Miniature Schnauzer
Being a keen photographer, you would think I already had a photograph to work from. However, I decided to try and get a photograph specifically for me to create my pet portrait. To this day, I still think it is the best method for getting a good pet portrait. What makes a good pet photograph, does not always make the best pet portrait.
Once my parcels of pet portrait artists supplies arrived, I set to work. Only beginning after studiously watching a wide array of YouTube videos (a learning technique that also worked well when I had to learn how to cut both human hair and dog hair during the Corona Virus lockdowns(!)), I slowly worked my way through creating a pet portrait of Monty. If you have seen any photos of him, you will know I like to keep him in what I call a classic Schnauzer cut (I have no idea if that is actually a thing..), with longer hair on his legs, a proper natural beard and of course the trademark Schnauzer eyebrows.
I have no idea how long my first pet portrait of Monty took, but I do know it was a very long time. It was created in coloured pencil, which even at the best times is a slower medium of artwork, but considering my perfectionist nature and the fact I had never tried to draw something in this scale and level of detail before, it took a very long time.
Now I look back on this portrait and think about all the things I don't like about it. However, considering it was my very first pet portrait and something that I created on a bit of a whim, it is actually in reality, probably quite good.
Creating my First Miniature Schnauzer Pet Portrait in Pastels
History then repeated itself slightly, when once I had been working in coloured pencils for a while, an artist friend suggested I should maybe try working in pastel pencils. Personally, I wasn't sure, as at this time I was quite getting into working in coloured pencils, creating highly detailed pet portraits from photos. However, this lady really does know what she's talking about, so I thought I'll give it a go. And what better subject to start pastel pet portraits with than Monty the Miniature Schnauzer.
With both of my pet portraits of Monty, I started by taking specific photos to work from. Despite the fact I did have a lot of nice photos of him, they weren't exactly what I look for in a photo when choosing one to create a pet portrait from. You can find out more about what I need and look for in a pet portrait reference photo here.
Both my portraits of Monty are very different. Between doing the two my skills had developed a lot and also pastel portraits and coloured pencil portraits look different. It was my first attempt with pastels drawing Monty and I ended up being quite happy with the final result.
Since drawing Monty for the first time, I haven't drawn any other Schnauzers or drawn Monty again. I would like to in the future do an extra-large portrait of Monty in pastels. It would be nice to draw him at a time when it wasn't my first ever attempt at a new medium!
Pastel Pet Portraits UK - A Pastel Pet Portrait of Monty Again!
It has happened again! I have started another pastel pet portrait of Monty. This time as my first attempt at a pastel portrait on velour paper. This kind of paper is quite like a velvet piece of fabric and quite different to my usual pastel mat (which is like sandpaper). I have gone big for this pastel portrait, it is 24 by 18 inches, so rather a bit larger than Monty. Pet portraits in pastel are my favourite medium, so it is nice to expand my skills within the medium.
I love the different effect you can get on this pastel paper, it is a softer more painterly effect.
As I am writing this I haven't quite finished him, I am being rather indecisive as to what colour the background should be, however, I am very pleased with how his pastel pet portrait is progressing. I have absolutely no idea where it is going to go on the wall at home though!
I love Miniature Schnauzers, Monty has been the most wonderful addition to my life, I know the joy that these little dogs can bring to our lives. They are the best dogs, so loving, affectionate and willing to please. If you have a Miniature Schnauzer (or any other pet!) and you would like to commission a pastel pet portrait of your dog, please get in touch.
My skills as a pastel pet portraits artist continue to improve all the time, to see more recent examples of my work as a pastel pet portrait artist click here.
To read more about my lovely boy Monty, click here.
My name is Amy and I am an artist specialising in pastel pet portraits UK, based in Derbyshire. I work from reference photos taken by my clients to create realistic portraits of their pets. All I need to get started is a high resolution photo of your pet, in the pose you want them drawing in.