I’m excited to share another kitty cat with you today. This is Abby. Short for “Abracadabra”.
I’ve been really blessed with pet portraits since I started them a few weeks ago. But each time I start one, I have the same question –
Should I paint it or draw it?
It’s not that it matters, really, and the client never cares. You’d think that painting would be quicker, after all of this time, but that’s not necessarily true. Not yet, at least.
I like using colored pencils because of the texture they give the animal’s fur. Even though I’ve only used them a few times, I decided on pencils for Abby’s portrait.
Another new experience for me was the paper I used – hot press watercolor paper. I didn’t even know there were different types of watercolor paper. Boy, was I wrong.
A friend of mine is a wonderful watercolorist and brought me some samples to play with, one being hot press. Without going into how it’s made and all of that – since I really don’t know myself – I chose it because it has a nice, smooth surface that I thought would be great with pencils.
However for the background I used watercolors. Even though I’ve only been using them for a short while, I really noticed a difference with a good quality paper. The paints flow differently, as do the colors.
For Abby’s background I mixed blue with a little black + white to get this bluish grey.
Colored pencils are particularly great for cats because you can lay down the different colored markings so easily. If you try to do this with paint you don’t get even close to the same result.
Of course, you still have to blend the pencils. Or at least I do.
Here is my little pencil blending set. When I first started drawing I used the grey blending stumps in the back. But I just found these cotton swabs that come to a point that I love. They’re by Qtip. Somewhere along the line I tried some foam eyeshadow applicators for blending and they worked pretty well too so I grabbed a bag at Walmart. The foam sponges work for blending large areas and I keep one in the little bowl to moisten with baby oil, then I roll either a stump, cotton swab or foam applicator in the oil to blend the pencil. Since colored pencils are oil-based, the baby oil works really well to blend them.
I thought I was pretty smart, coming up with all these different blending tools, right? But the last time I was in the craft department I noticed they had both the foam applicators and foam sponges. Guess I’m not as brilliant as I thought I was, haha.
Rhonda sent me a few different photos of Abby and I asked which was her favorite. She loved the one with one paw crossed over, just like a little lady. After I had her sketched in I realized I’d have to add a blanket or something, otherwise the outstretched paw wouldn’t make sense visually.
I thought I could paint fabric faster than using colored pencils.
Um . . . I was wrong.
When I finally got the folds the way I wanted them (paint does happen to be good for covering mistakes), I added some shading with pencils.
It’s kinda fun, mixing paint, then pencils, then paint again. I’m not sure that’s what they mean when they say “mixed media” but who cares?
I left some of the markings unblended to add texture.
Since the lower part of Abby’s face, her chest and paws are white, I needed to do some under-shading with grey so the white would show better and also to see the direction of the fur. Using the direction of an animal’s fur adds detailing and dimension.
Now . . . there’s only one issue I have with colored pencils . . . sharpening them.
Or I should say, trying to sharpen them. Ugh. Talk about a lesson in patience!
I even googled “how to sharpen colored pencils”, thinking I must be missing something here. Um, no, they’re just a pain-in-the-youknowhat. So then I asked this incredible artist I follow on Instagram and Facebook. It’s unreal what she can do with pencils. She made me feel better when she told me that it’s the type of pencil I’m using (Prismacolor). She uses polychromos which sharpen much better.
Great. Now that I just built an entire collection of Prismacolor.
Rather than spending a hundred bucks on more pencils I picked this purple guy up in the back-to-school section.
Total aside: what the what?!? Back to school in July??? What happened to SUMMER? Man, I’m so glad my kids are grown.
Anyway, I’ve used the automatic pencil sharpener a few times and – fingers crossed – so far so good.
Even with a new pencil sharpener, when it comes to fine lines, I’ll take my paint brush, thankyouverymuch. That probably seems a little crazy because it would be easier to draw a fine line than hold a paint brush steady while painting one. Right?
Maybe when I have as many hours holding a pencil as I have with a paint brush, that’ll be true.
For now, I’ll stick with paint and a brush.
At least for the fine details. For the rest of the animals? I guess it just depends which way the wind blows. I’m just happy I have plenty of orders coming in so I can both paint and draw!
I’m so very, very grateful to have this new ‘job’ but I also realize that not every pet lover can afford to have an original portrait done. So I’m creating a Pet Lovers product line!
And I’m just getting started! It’s so much fun, creating all of these products. I have a lot to learn, of course, but I really love that I can offer products at all different price ranges for fellow animal lovers.
Okay, I’m off for now. Have a great week! I’m painting a bassett hound this week. Yes, painting.
What are you up to this week? Are you painting anything? Or are you sneaking away for a vacation? Where, where? I’d love to hear all about it!