Painting of Nala


When I undertake a commission I email the client at each stage of the painting, I find that my customers find this an unexpectedly enjoyable part of commissioning a painting from me. Indeed, one of my recent customers had these progress images printed out and framed so that the recipient of the portrait (her husband) could also share the experience. After the customer and I have discussed the painting and agreed on a composition the process can begin in earnest.

Stage 1

This is a simple charcoal outline drawing on a primed grey surface. I use charcoal because it is dissolved by the paints rather than pencil which can leave hard marks that can sometimes be visible when the painting is complete. At this stage it is difficult to see clearly what the picture will be.

Stage 2

This is the “notan” it is the light and shade to establish the form and values. From this 3 value (white, black and grey) under painting it is somewhat surprising how much of the information is conveyed. You can see that I am beginning to build the painting up in easily manageable steps.

Stage 3

For this stage I paint in any detailed areas such as eyes, nose, ears, mouth etc. One of the most demanding features is normally the eyes, but on Nala we obviously can't see them. I like to tackle the most difficult areas first as they are most likely to need some rework as the painting progresses.

Stage 4

The painting of the background is stage 4. For pet portraits I usually just paint a fairly abstract background (This helps to keep the cost of pet portraits reasonable). But in this case the pattern on the cushion seems like such an integral part of the composition I decided to keep it in. As you can imagine this took a fair amount of time but I think it was worth the effort, what do you think?

Stage 5

This stage is the painting of the main subject. As you might expect, any animal with a pattern to it's fur is more challenging, whether it is a tiger's stripes or a brindle dog. The secret is to paint the pattern of the fur while maintaining the integrity of the animal's form. I am pleased with the way Nala's portrait turned out, the painting is really a lot better in the flesh than a photo of it on the screen. When I do any future events the painting will be coming with me, do come along and have a look.