Saturday, October 8, 2016

Miss Bear

Here's another recently-completed pet-portrait - this time of a cat! I don't do many cats, my pet portraits tend to be a long line of dogs.

Miss Bear is a beautiful siamese. I was given a few photos to choose from, and chose a pose where she was sitting up straight and proud, as befits a siamese cat:

The background went through a couple of iterations. Apparently she likes to sit by the fire, and so the commissioner (who was commissioning a present for the friend than owns (or is that 'is owned by'?) Miss Bear) originally wanted her sitting on a hearth in front of a roaring fire.
Fire is pretty revolting to paint, so I wasn't exactly looking forward to that, but I was fully prepared to give her a cosy fire... and then I learned that the recipient is red-green colourblind. I did a bit of checking to find out exactly how red-green colourblind people see the world, and found that red appears, basically, yellow. This didn't bode well for painting a fire, where I would be exclusively using red, orange and yellow. I just didn't feel confident that I could paint a convincing fire that would work for a colourblind person, so I contacted the commissioner and suggested a different option - a black and white floral background inspired by the designs of William Morris - lots of nice contrast that would work well for a colourblind person, with a bit of gilding added in to catch the light and liven everything up. Siamese cats are so graphic themselves that I thought the background would work well. The commissioner liked that idea, so I went with that.

Here I'll collate some of the progress snaps I shared on Instagram, and my Instagram Story, as I worked:

I did the draft in Photoshop, on my Cintiq Companion 2 - it just made it much easier to work out the pattern, and repeat areas, without constantly worrying that I was filling in the wrong thing or drawing lines in the wrong place:

I printed out my digital draft and used my lightbox to trace it onto Moleskine Watercolour paper using Copic Multiliners:

Eventually I had everything inked:

I filled in the background with black Ecoline, while Miss Bear herself was painted in Winsor and Newton watercolours with details added in Prismacolour pencil:

The final stage was to add some gilding. I used Cosmic Shimmer Gilding Flakes in Autumn Leaves. This photo shows just how shiny the gilding flakes are:

Here's a video I took to show how I applied the gilding:

Finally, I created 15 greeting cards using the painting. They were too small to use this gilding technique, so I went over all the gilded areas with different coloured metallic gel pens - not as shiny, but better than nothing. 

Copic Multiliners, Winsor and Newton watercolours, Prismacolour pencils and Cosmic Shimmer gilding flakes on Moleskine watercolour paper. Six and a half hours in total (not counting the cards).

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