Saturday, March 2, 2024

More Mixed Media Pets

2/19/24 Zoey (reference photo by Linda Eller)
2/18/24 Little Man (reference photo by Linda Eller)

One of the requirements I stipulate when I offer pet portrait commissions is that I get to choose the medium. The main reason is that my choice is usually led by the animal’s color, the quality of the reference photo or just something I want to try. I’m having a lot of fun experimenting with mixed media that I typically wouldn’t use for urban sketches.

2/27/24 Kim (reference photo by Kim Lathan)

This batch has a variety of animals, techniques and media, and most were challenging in different ways. I’ve occasionally sketched horses from life at fairs and such, but most have been bronze statues. As such, I haven’t had much practice sketching horses, let alone their portraits, so the biggest challenge here was Kim. The reference photo was very dark with low contrast. The horse was probably black or dark brown, but rather than struggle with color, I chose to use graphite, which was much easier to manage. I used an eraser to pull out the gray-colored mane, which would have been a lot harder to do with colored pencil! I regret the composition, though – I think this portrait would have been better if I had shown some of her long neck, which was turned gracefully. But the 4-by-6-inch size of the paper can’t hold much more than a head without losing detail, so it was a compromise.

The double portraits of Starfish and Coffee, the two black cats, was also challenging. Black cats never seem to get easier! This time I tried it with colored pencil only and no underpainting (unlike Skuta and Momo, two other black cats, that I drew with an underpainting), which was more time-consuming, but I was hoping to have more tonal control. I’m not sure how much it helped.

2/20/24 Starfish & Coffee (reference photo by Steve Ferris)

On the other hand, I did use a Viarco ArtGraf tailor block as an underpainting for the pup named Patricia, which speeded up the process significantly. I’m always surprised by how well Field Notes Birch Bark cover stock takes wet media. It’s not sized properly for paint, so the pigment seems to sink in rapidly, which makes the medium no longer soluble once it dries. Win-win in a weird way!

Underpainting for Patricia speeded up the process quite a bit!
2/26/24 Patricia (reference photo by Antonia Paxton)

Little Man, the bicolored dog (top of post), was a fun experiment. On the black side of his face, I used an underpainting of ArtGraf and then some messy hatching with a Uni Pin technical pen.

The idea to use black paper for Groot, the white Great Pyrenees, came from the donor who had commissioned the drawing, a fan of my white-on-black nocturnes. When she had suggested it, the idea had never occurred to me, mainly because I’ve been on autopilot with trusted white art-quality papers (or Field Notes). But I had recently purchased a pack of black Uglybooks in the larger size, and the paper is archival. Although it’s flimsier than I would typically use for a commissioned drawing, I figured it would be fine. It was, and Uglybooks’ surface has a wonderful tooth for colored pencil.

2/28/24 Groot (reference photo by Erin Willard)

I’m going to take a break from pet portraits to work on other projects, but these are so much fun that I’ll surely be back for more at some point. The generous donors who have commissioned most of these portraits have helped me raise more than $1,400 for Dog Gone Seattle! You can see them all in my Flickr album.

2/22/24 Skye (reference photo by Grant Klein)


  1. Wow! That's a substantial fundraising project.

    1. I'm kind of amazed, too! I certainly didn't set out with that amount in mind... I thought I'd raise maybe $300 and call it good!

  2. Congrats! You really raised a lot!! I love the ones done on the Field Notes covers, but the one done on the black paper is really great! It really turned out so well.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...