Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Magnificent Seven

I recently completed a pet portrait like no other I've done, containing no less than SEVEN head and shoulder portraits of Boxers and French Bulldogs for a client for whom I did a single portrait last year.
It took almost six months from start to finish, but in truth I could only devote good time to it over the last two, when it quickly took shape, and I'm happy to say the client was delighted with the result : 

'The Magnificent Seven' (not the official title)
 Working from an assortment of photos I worked with the client to decide on the composition, from which an initial tonal drawing was made in pencil :

The second stage was a series of pale washes to gage tone and colour form, and for me it lessens the impact of the scary 'white paper'.

The picture stayed in this form for a number of weeks as Christmas and other commitments meant I couldn't get enough quality time to progress, I find these sort of projects need total focus at this stage as I'm not painting generic dogs here, they are all individuals which need to be treated as such, the client knows their pets better than anyone, and the likeness has to be near perfect as I have to try and capture the character from a couple of photographs.

Slowly I began to build up layers in the individual dogs, using ink, coloursoft pencils and more watercolour:
 One by one I completed each image, then scanned the individual images and did a side-by-side comparison on computer with the original photographs which enabled me to correct any glaring errors before sending an image to the client for appraisal :


Thankfully she only had a few minor concerns for me to address, which left me only to add their names and a card mount, and it was ready for collection.

Final image with mount measures 24 x 20 inches
When the client saw the picture 'in the flesh' for the first time it brought a few tears, a reaction which for me, means I've done a good job, and the weeks of stress have been worthwhile. How many times did I fear I was losing it, and knowing there was no going back as watercolour is hardly the most forgiving of mediums, how many times did I utter 'never again'.  ;-)
But now all done I can't wait for the next one, the satisfaction gained from client approval can't be underestimated, and afterwards she kindly send me an email  to underline her delight : 

"Just wanted to say thank you once again for my fab painting, I absolutely love it."

Very humbling, and very much appreciated.