Sam and Katie – Dog Portraits

A friend and former colleague, Graeme Stobbart, asked me if I could produce a portrait of his two dogs, both of which were no longer with us. Unfortunately, Sam, the Jack Russell, had been passed for a good number of years and the photographs that Graeme and his family had of him were of a quality not best for producing a detailed illustration. However, after sourcing and selecting a number of photographs of Sam, from different angles, I was just able to work out his facial marking and colouration. It wasn’t the easiest of jobs I’ve ever had to do, but sometimes it’s worthwhile making the effort for a friend, especially one that would go the extra mile for you.Sam and Katie (smaller)forblog
I was pleased to get this commission completed when I did, and was delighted to hear that Graeme’s parents, Derek and Diane, were delighted with the finished illustration. It made all of the effort spent at the drawing-board worthwhile. The hardest part for me was putting pencil to paper, not knowing whether the finished result was going to be what myself or my clients expected.

This illustration was also a first for me, as I have (very surprisingly) never drawn a West Highland Terrier before. I loved drawing the picture of Katie, who looks just like the kind of canine friend I would love to have had myself. I have always had a ‘soft-spot’ for Westies, to be honest.

I chose a silver-grey background paper to draw this illustration on, as white would not have been a good contrast to Katie’s light fur and too dark a colour wouldn’t have shown Sam in the best way either, (as both dogs are rather a tonal contrast). I had to resort to using a wide variety of mediums to produce this illustration: coloured pencil, watercolour paint and even chalk. I don’t often mix mediums, but this seemed to give the right feel for different parts of the picture.

I handed over the commission to Graeme on the 14th May (whilst we were having a catch-up and a coffee in Starbucks) with a certain amount of trepidation, as I had never met Sam and Katie and wasn’t sure that I had ‘captured them’ in the illustration. It always gives me a sigh of relief when I know that all of the chalk, sweat and paint have met the hopes and expectations of the person receiving the final piece of artwork. Phew!

Quote from Client ~

“As soon as I saw the portrait it was obvious that Michael had not only drawn (and painted) an amazing picture, but that he had captured the spark that made Sam and Katie so special to us. There is so much life in the portrait and it was no surprise that there were tears when Mam saw the portrait. Michael has worked wonders with the source material and has reflected the characters of two very different little dogs beautifully.”

Graeme Stobbart

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Huey – Boy’s Birth Picture

I have had quite a few commissions for children’s nurseries over the last two months, but I have particularly enjoyed working on the illustrations that contain the jungle animals theme. One such illustration was for a little boy called Huey, whose Grandmother, Linda, had commissioned me to produce. Huey is an adorable little boy and is already (despite his young age) keen on a game of football, so jungle animals playing football was the theme of the illustration. Hueyillustrationinprogressforblog(smaller)
I chose a range of animals that Huey would know and recognise, a bear, lion, hippopotamus, monkey etc and dressed them in football kits. I sketched the illustration out in half a morning and worked out what colours I was going to use. One of the stipulations of the illustration was to keep the colour green to a minimum, so that had to be held in mind when choosing the animal characters.

During the final colouring stage, I was just colouring in the baby hippopotamus, when my good friend, Mary, rang me to see how I was doing.

“What are you doing today, darling?”, she asked.

“Well, at this very moment in time, I happen to be painting a hippopotamus’s bottom” I replied.

“Oooh” said Mary, “that sounds like a big job!”

Fortunately, my drawings are not life size or on this occasion she would have been right.

It’s nice getting the occasional phone call from family, friends and colleagues…whilst I am working, as they can add an extra bit of information to my picture, or in the case of my latest birth illustration add in some of the elements, such as a panda, a kookaburra(!), a rabbit and a tiger…
Huey illustration(complete)lighterforblog
Linda was delighted with the Huey illustration, which was presented to Huey’s proud parents on Christmas Day. I do hope that these illustrations will prove to be family heirlooms in years to come, a happy memory of family love and affection…