Pet Portrait Photo Difficulties.

My portfolio of dog portraits is slowly but surely expanding.

I have taken on a couple of portfolio exercises to get a proper feel for the difficulty rating. They are:

a) a photo which does not have all the pictorial information because the resolution is too low and

b) a photo which is in itself not a great composition but it is the only photo we can get. These are situations a pet portrait artist may find themselves in and with these problems in mind they will then have to decide whether a successful pet portrait will be the outcome.

a) This is Amber.  Most of the photo could be enhanced using the contrast tool to get more information for reference. This worked for all but the eyes.  This was the most challenging and time consuming of my two examples.  I had to make up the eyeDog photo showing Gooner for Pet Portrait Painting by Diane YOung reference material, or cross reference it elsewhere.  This meant it became time consuming and a fiddle mucking about with the “lost” information.  The eyes are the most important focal point (apart from the muzzle also in a dog) and not succeeding in making them look “right” or more to the point “convincing” would spell disaster for the whole painting.  One other point about this photo is the position of the tail gives a very long slim shape to the overall composition and so it was much better to take the important head area instead where there are alot of dynamic shapes to keep the picture interesting.

b) This is Gooner, obviously an older dog, which you can tell by the expression and posture.  The overall shape is not very dynamic and more of an overall circular outline, not the best shape to use for a picture composition.  This painting is taking  much less time on accounDawn Mcniff Gooner 2t I hav all the necessary information in front of me.  I took the liberty of using artistic licence to move the eye gaze so that the image was more engaging. Everything is in place and the painting is almost finished.

Below are the results of my endeavours:

Amber is completed

Gooner to the right is still work in progress.

Pet Dog Portrait Animal Painting by artist Diane Young         dog portrait by artist diane young

There are times when another factor comes into play and that is when the pet owner has produced the only photo they have of their dog and it is just like the Amber example above.  Perhaps this might persuade you as a pet portrait artist to take on the commission.  Of course all these things can be discussed at the outset with the pet owner giving you the commission perhaps with deposit for work up front and other caveats would help mitigate any disaster!

My conclusion is that not having all the information is extremely time consuming and the outcome is not certain. It is up to the Pet Portrait Artist to determine the risk!

Mind shifts and New Paintings of dogs.

It is strange how your mind and thoughts can dance around a subject or a project and produce means or obstacles, pathways to enable action or absolute resistance.  One minute you have one mind set, then suddenly you can see things quite differently and are able then to make a change or take an action that you had not considered before.

ACEO painting of a wolf by artist illustrator Diane Young of Manic Illustrations

ACEO Painting of Wolf Portrait

This process is no doubt with us more often than we realise, but for me produces itself very readily in the light of day when considering the redesign of my website.  I have had a website for many years and it was pretty clunky for quite some time at the outset.  But the amount of times I thought I had reached an optimal design moment were many.  Time passed, my mind shifted, and suddenly it would be made quite clear to me that improvements would yet again have to be made.  In a way it is a little like producing a painting, you think no more can be done, you put the thing away. Then some other time you stumble across the same painting and you can see straight away how to make it so much better.

In all the years I have been painting I could never  for one moment have envisaged making miniature paintings sized at just 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches but found myself having an eureka moment (a sudden shift in thinking!) nearly a year ago after tightening up my painting style, and acquiring reading glasses.  Since then I have produced several ACEO paintings each week featuring funny character animals or more realistic style animals too.  They have been listed and  sold each week on ebay in a special category for ACEO art cards.

A year hence, and I have been wondering how to develop my art further, today a new possibility has surfaced in my mind relating to pets and in particular dogs.   Here is a taster of my current work in progress…..more to follow :)

Belgian shepherd dog portrait painting by Diane Young

I really do wonder why my brain cannot follow through in the first instance?  I am sure there is a good answer for this  which at this time is unbeknown to me.

It is of concern that whilst my mind can play tricks on me and  can often ensure that I avoid action or end up procrastinating for what amounts to be in reality no-good-reason at all, but I am grateful that at other times it can reveal fresh ideas, shifts and visions so that even I can surprise myself with brand new possibilities.

Art, Painting and Unfinished Business

Painting, when to stop….

It happens so often, that artists actually stop working on a painting sometime after the vital moment when they should have stopped.   Spotting the optimum time to stop working on a piece is just so difficult as unless you could see into the future the you cannot anticipate whether your next few painting decisions will better or possibly worsen the painting’s outcome.  For this reason a good many paintings are over-worked and without a lot of experience this optimum moment can pass you by before you know it.

Painting of a wolf by Artist Diane YoungThis is a painting I have been working on today. It takes some concentration to be disciplined in the craft and it is best to work when feeling energised.  Once an artist tires and concentration waivers then sloppy decisions and actions are made leading to frustration and disappointment in the outcome.

I liken this process to swimming.  Whilst striving to get one’s swimming stroke right you need concentration, some discipline and energy.  Once the energy is depleted you fall back on old sloppy habits, inefficiency and then more tiredness is the outcome.   My painting and my swimming can go the same way.   This painting of a wolf is unfinished in my opinion.  It is just a matter of how far past the optimum point I persist…..

Painting, not Cut-Outs for Me.

Despite the fact that I live in a smallish town in the Cotswolds UK there is a significant population of artists.  I nearly said thriving artists.  They are thriving as far as their art might be concerned but I doubt that they are thriving as far as their contribution to their cost of living. There just has to be another job in the mix to enable most artists to “indulge” themselves their creativity.   I digress…..

Matisse Lithograph Painting of flowers

Stroud in the Cotswold Hills (UK) is a town of artists and creativity, music and alternative therapies, alternative remedies and alternative people.  We have Open Art Studios in May and festivals of Music in the Summer and all sorts in between.  Our Museum is the best ever for a small town, and within the same building is an exibition room which celebrates art of all varieties.  We are lucky enough that the Museum In the Park as it is known as  is  currently hosting a selection of art from Matisse.  Cut-outs (collage shapes cut with a scissors) was Matisse’ form of art which he made during the 1950’s.  

Art exhibition Matisse Cut outs

Matisse Lithograph

To be honest, this work which must have been quite a revelation in that era does not do alot for me.  But it must have been quite a development for that time and the evolution of different creative expressions have enabled us to have the freedom to create across all sorts of media and mix them up too,  the ultimate in this being Mixed Media.

Still, even if Matisse is not your bag it is good to be in the presence of original art and have feelings toward different styles and media from the art world.   You might want to buy only what you like, but witnessing and processing what art history and contemporary art has to offer will help develop your own view about your art and your art process and where it sits on the spectrum of creative expression.

My artist friend here is using her creative expression to mimic the art!

Exhibition of Artist Matisse Cut Outs

Following my visit to the Matisse exhibition I then went to the Subscription Rooms in Stroud town centre.  They  have an exhibition space where Mark Amis is exhibiting a number of portraits called Beautiful People.  His work is stunning.  the exhibition was a room full of oil large paintings of people that have “sat” for him including a portrait of Jenson Button celebrating a win.

Creativity for New ACEO paintings in the New Year

My creativity shut up shop for the Christmas period.  I could sense my focus slipping as extra festive activities took hold.   Rather than wrestling Christmas photo of Toy Santabetween the two I gave myself a break.  I let myself off the hook.

Creativity is often seen as an easy kind of self indulgent luxury.  Those that feel they have not been bestowed any creative talent imagine the enjoyment and loveliness of making pictures.   Perhaps it does come easily to some, but I would imagine that like me plenty of artists procrastinate, heading off down the  path of least resistance, that is any other activity except creativity.

Picture of Diane Young artist decorating.Even washing the car has an easily perceived outcome…you wash it, it looks clean.  With shopping, you shop and hey presto you have food you can cook with.  What about a bit of decorating? Assuming you buy the right paint, paint it on in a sensible fashion, the room looks completely renewed.  Having done all these things before there is no real danger of me straying into unknown territory and making a complete hash of this lot.

As for creating art, well only hundreds of decisions have to be made as you progress, tiny but important ones, the outcome of which make or break the painting.  One of the hardest decisions is eliminating your options, what should one do next?   And when things are not going right do you keep on with it or bin it?

It might be that I have too many hats to wear, a bit of a jack of all trades.  I have a background in accountancy, I know how to use a drill in hammer mode, or wire in telephone connections, I quite like cooking and I love the knowledge my computer wants to bestow on me, and for me it is easy to find reason to do something else,  something that thinks itself more essential than art.

Sketches for ACEO paintings by artist Diane Young

So enter creativity as a discipline.  I gave myself a Chrismas break,  now I have to reintroduce my creativity.  Like a daily supplement.  It needs to be rated as essential, like fruit, or vitamins to let it grow, grow, grow.

Today being the first day on my renewed creative path I have gathered some ideas and started on something new.   There are polar bears, hares, wolves and owls, cats and mice.  Harvey the Aardvark is still hibernating, but only for a short while, he will be back soon.

I am still specialising in ACEOs and hoping to not just sell originals but prints too off of the ACEO category on Ebay and direct via my ACEO Prints Shop site.

Wishing anyone taking the time to read this a very Happy New Year for 2014.  And for anyone wanting to be creative and not quite getting around to it,  do a little bit each day and make it essential,  just like your daily fruit and veg.

Painting In Progress

Lazy Painter’s guide recording Work in Progress

It really depends what medium you work in but even drawings can take on quite a transformation from the outset of the original idea.  Artists may use different tools to progress from the first sketch to the finished drawing or painting.

Drawing tools such as tracing or layout paper, light boxes and/or photo shop manipulation enables the good bits of a drawing to be retained easily whilst the areas in need of change more easily manipulated. With these tools there is a trail of changes which could be recorded digitally or glued in a sketch book to inform the artist at a later date how the work evolved. This sort of recording comes easily.

Painting images showing work in progress

For painting work-in-progress the best tool for recording is a camera. How often I have been too lazy to put down my brush and halt for a few minutes to get the camera and quickly take a picture.

It is impossible to remember the phases of a painting’s evolution and in addition artists repeatedly overshoot the optimum moment for the painting to be finished.

Recording the painting at different stages enables an artist to sit back at a later time and review how each stage of the painting has progressed and make objective decisions for making further paintings.

Don’t overshoot the optimum moment to put the brush down, you know that old adage Less Is More.  It just takes a moment to take a snap, and on review will reap benefits for your next masterpiece!

Stamp Lady Rachel Markwick of Stroud

Studying Art Process At Stroud College

One of my artist friends who trained on the Access Course at Stroud College was Rachel Markwick.  For some time she had been painting and explored her craft further on the course.  We had so much fun it was a truly bonding experience for us mature students.

Landscape Rachel Markwick

But simply wanting (and trying) to progress in the art world is often not enough.  For each of us it is a different process and often time has to pass, where creativity takes us to both good and bad places, and may be quite a balancing act where there are commitments other than just a desire to be creative.

From Painting To Collage with Stamps

Then a few years ago Rachel’s creativity took on a completely different look involving her inherited collection of stamps.

Stamp Collage Rachel MarkwickFrom Van Gogh’s sunflowers and hilly scenes of Stroud emerged the Stamp Lady of Stroud.  

There is a story behind the use of stamps in Rachel’s work, but to fast forward somewhat she makes clever, endearing and detailed images from stamps from all over the world. From ships to owls, and from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to International flags there is so much detail right down to the fish in the sea and the people in the arches of the Colosseum. 

Stamps Flag USA by Rachel Markwick

More of Rachel Marwick to be found on her Website,  or The Stamp Lady of Stroud featured in Tim Clegg’s Stamp Collecting Unhinged Videos.

“Encounters” Art Preview at the Amberley Inn Stroud with Artist Jilly Cobbe

Some years ago I made good friends with the students on my Access to Art course at Stroud College. Many have them have blossomed into proactive artists in different fields of the art world.

Painting by artist Jilly Cobbe at the Amberley Inn Stroud

My friend Jilly Cobbe had the preview of her show of work at the Amberley Inn Stroud yesterday evening.  

Like myself her art is inspired by animals, and this show “Encounters” depicts animals she has met or encountered in a variety of locations.  

Along with meeting other artists there I also witnessed the sale of her largest painting (see above). It is great to see artists reaping the rewards of their hard work and knowing that whoever buys it will hold their purchase dear to their heart.

I did my best but the photos here do not do Jilly’s work justice due to the lighting. Artist Jilly Cobbe on the right here below…..

Local lady tells the story of Stumpy the horse featured in artist Jilly Cobbe's drawing.

Art show by Jilly Cobbe at the Amberley Inn StroudPainting by artist Jilly Cobbe at the Amberley Inn Stroud

Horse Drawing by artist Jilly Cobbe at the Amberley Inn StroudJilly Cobbe Artshow at Amberley Inn Stroud

Click here: Jilly Cobbe for more of her talent for drawing and painting animals and landscapes on her website, also art for sale here and currently at the Amberley Inn Stroud.