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artbykarieann
I am a part-time pet portrait and wildlife artist living in the deep dark forest between the Royal Forest of Dean, Herefordshire and the Welsh border. A beautiful and inspiring place to live and create pet portraits and wildlife art.
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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Amur Leopard by Wildlife Artist Karie-Ann Cooper

After receiving a comment from Jane about my techniques I realised that although I post my updates regularly to show progress I don't actually go into the detail of how I work most of the time. Although I've already shown some work on the leopard portrait, I still repeat the same routine and exercises all over the portrait area by area so although this post is not quite from the beginning it will show how I work with coloured pencils from start to finish.You can click on the image above to enlarge it to see in more detail how I work.
I spend a long time drawing the portrait out in graphite, I do not do rough sketches first I simply work on the portrait straight away and I will start again if I go wrong. I am not at all anatomically trained so I cannot rely on my own knowledge about how an animal's structure or body shape are in real life, I simply draw what I see. I begin with the face and eyes working outwards, exactly the same as I do when I begin to use colour. I have never documented this stage before because usually the pencil strokes are so light I couldn't photograph them but I also think people just want to see what likeness I achieve or the finished portrait. The light strokes also allow me to erase and re-draw until I am happy with the details. I really think I am not of an artist's mind either as I cannot see things which are not there, I can only use the information I am given and approach each portrait almost as a plan, colours and shapes of those colours are all I can use to get everything into proportion (I have even used rulers before now to get them correct). The image above has been darkened to show up the graphite pencil marks and on the back of the leopard you can see the shapes I have drawn representing the black/brown markings (like I said it does look like painting by numbers), this is how I draw the outline of everything, I am constantly thinking 'that almost lines up with the next bit of black, that curves back around there to touch that bit' and so on. Once I am happy with the outline and shapes I begin with the colours, again looking at the back area you can see I have used a pale to mid brown for the undercoating, I always put the colour on in the direction of the fur, and at this point I can still see the graphite guidelines underneath. You will see I also used this technique on the head but using a much paler undercoat as the fur there was lighter. I then build up layers from palest to darkest until the graphite is covered but also until I achieve the correct depth of colour, I can still go back with a white pencil to lighten anything so long as I don't use too many layers, when this happens layers of colour start to peel off so each layer is as light and delicate as the undercoat you can see.
Anyway here is the portrait so far without any enhancements to show up the graphite.
Back to other news, I had my first aid course today and had to leave poor Willow home alone (well with Gypsy anyway) and expected to return to a sofa torn to pieces and puddles and disasters, but I am so glad to report my girl was very good, she and Gypsy must have dozed on the sofa and were very well behaved, I'm quite impressed!
Anyway, just thought I'd add a pic of one of my fish tanks to help you pass some time this lovely Wednesday evening!!!
Plus I'm updating my picture of the day with another of my long forgotten holiday snaps!
Please visit here for a chance to win your wildlife image as a piece of art.
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If you like my work please take the time to leave me a comment or become a follower (see bottom of page). If you would like to win a pet portrait of your dog, cat, horse or any other pet please see my new competition. It costs nothing to enter, all you require is internet access.
If you are interested in commissioning me please visit my pet portrait artist website or my wildlife artist website
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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Karie,
Thank you for being so EXPLICIT!
May I ask a few more? (I'm not trying to monopolize with my seemingly endless questions!)
Can you talk a little about your materials-what kind of paper, and which pencils?
And on things like whiskers, are they indented into the paper first, or drawn up to an outline?
(I thinking that they are not in white pencil as that wouldn't cover enough to stand out like that, correct?)
thank you again for your patience with me!
Take care,
Jane

Teresa Mallen said...

Terrific description of how you work. I especially love your drawing process, "that almost lines up with the next bit of black, that curves back around there to touch that bit". That is how I draw too!! I draw by paying attention to how one thing relates to another. Might sound a bit goofy to some but it works. :-) And wow, an impressive fish tank!

Art with Liz said...

I am following this one with bated breath, Karie-Ann! Thank you so much for describing your process - it's always great to learn from artists as talented as you.

Linzi said...

Don't be so hard on yourself!! Your fantastic because you haven't been trained to draw someone else's style or studied how animals should look, because but not all do look like they should!!

You can draw images perfectly, without a dodgy paw, funny ears or eyes (you know what I mean) as your trademark!!! Very special talent for a lady with a strange sense in dressing gowns!!! haha

Lecture over! Sorry! Glad the wee lady is behaving so well!!! My 2 are as naughty as ever!!!! Trying to get some more pics of them for you if you wouldn't mind doing another sketch sometime, not straight away, maybe in a month or so?

Linzi x x x

pencilportraits said...

No lecture Linzi, the thing is I'm not trained and work to my own 'best method' so I find it difficult to understand why anyone is really interested in how I do things! Hope Liam and Clyde are under control now!!! Off to a puppy party with Willow tonight, what fun!

pencilportraits said...

Jane I'm about to update my blog soon so I'll add answers to your questions as well, I'm amazed you think I'm worthy of questioning!!!

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