Cruz, 16×16 inch Horse Portrait

I am so looking forward to revisiting this handsome horse again. I was lucky enough to paint his portrait towards the end of last year and I am going to paint him again. I placed the order for his frame today and I have nearly finished sketching him out, along with his owner! Yes this one is going to feature a human portrait too. Skin as well as fur!

You can see Cruz’s portrait from last year here. You can see how handsome he is.

Bay horse with his owner in a field. Horse is wearing a head collar and the owner a blue jumper

Above you can see the reference photo for Cruz’ portrait. My my pet portraits are from photos and you can read more about the process here. The original photograph my client supplied was cropped in this as you see above. The reason is Cruz was in his winter coat and we felt it was unflattering. The second reason is we are cropping the portrait to 16×16 inches so it will fit nicely next to the previous portrait of him, which measured 16×20 inches.

I am sorry these photos aren’t the best, unfortunately I think there was a finger print on my lens. Always is, I should use my DSLR but it is so easy to reach for the phone camera! Below the can see the outline drawing for the painting.

Sorry about the poor photo.. I am starting work on the human portrait today, so I will get a better photo hopefully. I was making my way to my studio to rummage aroujnd for the right flesh colours and got caught by the glorious weather, so thought I would pause and drink my tea and finish this blog quickly.

I find human portraits a lot of fun to do as I don’t paint them very often and of course a lot of careful thought goes into them. I shall get some progress shots as I go today for you.

It has been a good 8 hours plus in the studio today and I am really pleased so far with how Cruz and his human owners portrait is coming along. I have worked on both, flitting between her and Cruz. It is taking a lot of concentration for me working on a person and the skin tones, so I go back to Cruz when my eyes need a break . Painting fur come much more naturally to me. I would be worried if it didn’t after painting animals pretty much all my life one way or another!

I managed to remember to capture some photographs of the progress. Here they are below. I hope they give you some idea of the stages. I have also started adding in some background. I shall work some more on that part tomorrow.

My phone is still not taking the best photos of the portrait, despite me cleaning the lens. However I think you get enough idea of the progress. If you want to see more horse portraits, please feel free to visit the gallery. I do hope you check back in tomorrow to read about the progress on Cruz.

I have managed a few hours on Cruz today, more blocking of his face and making a bit of a start on the background. I am definitely pleased with how the progress of the lady is coming along. I posted it on my personal page on facebook and it asked me to tag her! That really pleased me as it must look like a face for facebook to do that. I would like to have her finished tomorrow and make a lot more progress on Cruz. There is a lot detail to add to him yet so there is a few days work left in the whole portrait at least. The frame should be due in next week.

After Cruz is finished it is on to a border collie dog portrait and two retrievers, plus a double dog portrait. It is really heads down the next two weeks to get it all done, but get it done I will!

Progress on Cruz’s portrait below.

I think this is where the progress on Cruz’s horse portrait looks like it starts to slow down, it isn’t really, it is just smaller details are being added now the basics have been put in. The building blocks of the pet portrait if you will. Without these filled in first it can be hard to make sure proportions are correct, there is enough contrast in any pet portrait amongst other things. That is not to say I won’t change things as the pet portrait progresses, but it is so useful to have these correct.

Below you can see the progress shot of the work I have done today. As you can see a lot has changed with his face! Much more detail has gone down and I have added his eye in. This will need some tweaking. As you may have noticed from the reference photo supplied his eye was closed. This is the beauty of pet portraits from photos, you can make tweaks like this that you just can’t do when taking photographs! I did google some images to help with certain details of the eye. I am sure there will be some more tweaking yet!

I am so sorry about . poor photograph again, Taken in poor lighting as I was very stop start in my work today as my husband is away. It will by my turn in September. I am pleased with the progress made with work despite him being away and keeping the kids entertained. In fact they have been as good as gold.

Anyway back to Cruz’s horse portrait. You can see I have started blocking in the sky around him. For this I have used soft pastels, much bigger for a larger area that you want to look slightly out of focus. If I was working on a smaller pet portrait I may reach for the pencils, I think you get a feel for what you want to use when after a while of doing it. For the trees, I will be going back to the pastel pencils as there is a little more detail I want to pick out. My main focus tomorrow will be the background and the top the lady is wearing. When that is finished I can then tie the whole portrait together!

All I have to add as a footnote, is I could never own a horse due to my severe allergic reaction to horse fly bites! I take my hat off to you horse owners! I have been in misery all weekend courtesy of one those little blighters and lucky I haven’t needed antibiotics yet, last time I got cellulitis!

I am getting there slowly but surely, I thought I would get further ahead today, but it has been a bit of a disturbed day. I did manage a good 6 hours, just these things take time to build up the depth and realism. I am very pleased with how it is coming along. I am enjoying the whole aspect of this painting, from the face, to the handsome horse and even down the creases int he lady’s top.

Tomorrow will see the portrait pretty much finished and then it will be time to sit back and see if there are any teaks to be made after that. I have a feeling this may be one I fiddle on with little bit. Mainly because it is such a large pet painting. However, you never can tell until the painting is nearly done.

Here are a couple of photos from today’s progress

A close up of the face, and below you can see the whole of the horse portrait. Sorry for the bad light. I really can’t wait to scan the painting in for you to see it better!

This is quite a useful process in itself as I can already see the odd thing I would like to tweak. I won’t go too much on this photo as you can actually see where the paper is bending off the board slightly. Will have to retape it down tomorrow, but that will distort the painting slightly. But I shall re photograph and take it into photoshop and compare to the reference photo.

More updates to follow!

Well I got to where I thought I would today, which is pretty much finished except for any tweaks on the portrait. I really need to give my eyes a little break as I have been looking at his gorgeous face for 5 days straight now, I have already decided I want to tweak the clips on the lead rope and head collar slightly and I possibly the grass. Non of these amendments will be major, you may not even really notice them yourself, but for the pet portrait artist they are the difference between feeling OK about a pet portrait and really happy with it. So the tweaking will be going on for a little while. I did scan it in today as I need a clear image to check against. Not distorting because the paper is bent slightly or anything else. As I have scanned this gorgeous horses portrait in I certainly will share it with you here.

I think you can really see the difference between a scan of the portrait and the phone photographs. The colours are better, the contrast isn’t so harsh. All round it just looks so much better!

It sounds a really strange thing to say, but I am so pleased with the sky. I often struggle with clouds but I really feel like I have cracked them in this painting!

I have made some more minor adjustments on the portrait of Cruz and added the little hedgehog, which was also added in his other portrait.

I scanned the finished horse portrait over to my client the other day and he was delighted with it. There were a couple of amendments to be made after he took a look. The lady’s skin was a little too pink, I needed to add a hedgehog as I did in the previous portrait and it was decided to remove the lead rope below his nose.

I want to work with all my clients to make sure they have the portrait they are delighted with so it is never a problem to make amendments and tweaks to get you the perfect pet portrait.

Here is the final scan of Cruz’s portrait and we are now ready to sign and frame tomorrow after my Nordic Jaunt in the morning.

Pastel portrait of a horse standing next to his owner, a lady who is wearing a navy blue top. Blue sky with some clouds and trees and field behind.

My client made a good spot after I uploaded the final portrait, that her hand that is cupping Cruz’s nose seemed slightly disjointed. It is one of those really good shouts as once you see it it would really bug you and you wouldn’t be able to unsee it. It probably had something to do with removing the lead rope, and although it was correct to the reference it is very important as a pet portrait artist not to be a slave to it.

So a simple adjustment of moving the thumb closer to the fingers and adding part of the hand in, in shadow and the problem is fixed!

Just loading up the blog post and seeing the adjustment I made to her hand it looks much better. I have to say I am really proud of this piece and I feel I can offer people portraits as part of my commission list now, which is really exciting. I need to get some more example pieces together to build up a gallery, but it is good to add another string to my bow, so to speak!

Here is a photograph of Cruz’s portrait framed, it will be posted the week after next to arrive on a special day, so he will be safely going into storage until then, it will be strange not to be looking at him after having him on my easel for a week. I am going to miss him! The frame has been chosen to match the previous frame used on his other portrait painted last year.

Framed horse portrait of a beautiful bay called Cruz and his owner standing in a field. Framed in a beautiful ornate gold frame