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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Painting a Pet Portrait with Pastels....My Favorite Tip

'Savannah'          5x7         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
 I couldn't resist painting Savannah for one of my patrons.  She looks like my Heidi!  I need to paint Heidi one of these days.   This was a last minute painting. She wanted to have it by Friday and I had some free time today for a little painting. It can be challenging to paint a big dog on a small piece of paper (5x7)  but I always enjoy painting animals. It is a nice change of pace from landscapes.

  I usually work from photos which can also be a challenge. Often pet photos are taken in poor lighting or with flash so the colors are not accurate and pet may have devil eyes! But sometimes it is all you have to work with. I found a tool that makes it easier though  and this is my favorite way to paint animals.....

View photos on an  iPad

Working form a photo on my iPad
Working with the photo on the iPad is so much better. The light in the screen makes even bad photos workable. Of course you still have to overlook harsh shadows and deal with busy backgrounds....but a nicely illuminated photo really helps. 

You can see my set up for a pet portrait. I like to sit to paint smaller sizes. I like using Sennelier LaCarte  Paper for animals. I lay out the colors I will use and paint by blocking in the values layering several colors for each value section. For the background I usually choose a color that is in the fur of the animal or something that will compliment the fur color. For Savannah I used some greens and blues that are also found in the shadows of her fur.

It is getting to be the time of year when we think about Holiday gifts and pet portraits make wonderful gifts. I am accepting a limited number of Pet Portraits for this holiday season. Prices begin at $100 for a 5x7. You can read more about the commission process in my Etsy shop click HERE.

My Digital Lesson on How I paint Animals available in my Etsy shop for $6
If you would like to paint your own pet portrait.....you might like a head start with my digital downloadable lesson/demo on how I paint animals. Click in the link above to see more about the demo.


Carol Hopper said...

I have a very similar set up but use my MacBook Air instead of my iPad. Both would give me a similar result as only screen size is different. There may be one additional advantage to my MacBook Air and that is that i can rotate the screen forward and backward to get light into shadows, lighten or darken.

Is there any particular reason why you choose the size 5x7? I paint on 6x8 or 6x6 for no particular reason at all.

Karen said...

Great point about being able to tilt the screen! As for the size, that is what the client asked for. But I do always choose standard sizes and I like 6x6 and 6x8 too.