Animal Portraits

On painting animal portraits…………….

Most animals rarely stay still long enough to paint from life so I rely on photographs for these portraits. I prefer to take my own photographs whenever possible to obtain the light and shadow effects that I am looking for and also for the opportunity to get to know a little more about the animal.

Then I print out a selection of these photos and mount them on a board next to the easel. By working from many photographs at once, I can use information from each one to add to the shape, colors, textures etc. that I will use in the final portrait.

I start with a drawing for the size and placement of the animal with the features and shadow shapes included. I pay particular attention to proportions in this initial drawing. After blocking in the overall lights and darks in the painting, I generally start working on the face, particularly the eyes. Once the eyes are painted I have a connection to the animal (I am being watched) and a responsibility to portray him/her as honestly as I can. I then work towards the detail in the rest of the face, body and the surrounding areas. To make a really detailed portrait I spend longer refining and adjusting the features, fur textures, tones and the background supporting elements if necessary.