Tricia Griffith – Fine Art

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Pet Portrait: Maggie

1911747_10152808866222356_8675961473465011288_nNovember and December 2014 were crazy busy. I ended up with several pet portrait commissions, along with a trip in early December which meant I had to draw, draw, draw to get them all done in time. One of the first ones I completed was this pretty little girl Maggie.

954740_10152790808142356_6640141157932612391_nWhen I was starting this one, we were in the grip of some particularly nasty weather, and at one point I was working on the sketching and blocking out for colors in the dark with my iPad for photo reference and book light to draw by.

I am kind of fussy about my colored pencil portraits, since I feel like I tend to get too carried away laying down the color and they end up looking a bit too heavy to me. Fortunately, people who get them do seem to love them, they just tend to have different character than the graphite drawings. Each medium I use tends to add its own personality to the work, though.

10171645_10152806695107356_4707720726084763737_nFor Maggie, I was determined to keep the color layers super light. She has beautiful layers of browns and golds in her coloring and I wanted to capture that without getting to heavy. I started with the lighter cream colors and then gradually added in golds, red-browns and darker browns to create her honey brown and chocolate tones.

I find that when I treat the colored pencils more like a graphite pencil, I’m much happier with the results. These lighter colored animals are easier. When I draw animals with a lot of black, that’s when I start to get a little more carried away, because I want them to be nice and black and shiny. Overall, I am super happy with this one! 10406419_10152805682977356_1868249901571629304_n

My kitten Isabeau was a great supervisor for this piece. She helped make sure I wasn’t using too much colored pencil! She is more than a year old now and much bigger. But still good at supervising and keeping me in line.



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Aurora Equus–Colored Pencil & Aquarelle

Aurora Equus - Tricia GriffithInspired by a photo of an Arabian horse that I came across, with this piece I first aimed for as much fine realism detail as possible. I wanted to work on drawing the anatomy and bone structure of the horse just as I saw it on the photograph.

Next, I started going over the shadowy details in purple colored pencil, thinking I wanted this horse to combine realism and not so realism. This led me think it might be fun to just layer the colors of the rainbow, so I began adding them in reverse order from the purple; moving from there to blue, to green and on through to red.

There is no black used at all in this work. All shading, including the darker colors of the eye and nostril, is created using a mix of several colors. Once I was finished with the horse, I wanted to so something with the background to make the horse pop out a bit, but I didn’t want to add heavy layers of colored pencil.

I debated using watercolor, but the paper used is Strathmore Bristol Board, and that doesn’t hold up to watercolor very well without a heavy layer of sizing coating it. So, I went to the next best thing, aquarelles, which I enjoy using as an add-on medium in a lot of my artwork lately.

The aquarelles are essential a watercolor colored pencil. It reminds me of the paint with water books I’d get as a kid. Once you draw on the paper with the aquarelle, you can then go over it with a wet paintbrush, which then dissolves the marks into a watercolor-like texture and allows you blend spread the color out.

So, to finish out the work, I blended purples and blues in aquarelle to create a slightly more dense, dark background which is still lighter than it would have been had I slathered on the colored pencil. 🙂

The original of this work is available, or you can order prints on my Fine Art America site!

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Pet Portrait – Dude


Dude - Tricia GriffithThis portrait was done as a rather belated Christmas gift to my in-laws. They have a rambunctious young black lab who goes by the title “The Dude”. He’s a local celebrity, having been born missing one of his rear paws. He is quite social and loves to make new fans.

For this portrait I really started working on the new style I have been visualizing. I still used colored pencil for the drawing, but I really didn’t want it to go down in heavy layers. This was a challenge because with Dude being all black, the temptation was there to keep on going until the black was really, really black.

Instead, I treated the colored pencil a bit more like I do the graphite, and just kept a lighter touch. It it still several layers, starting with the darker areas and slowly building up. I could have easily kept going, but reminded myself of the style I was looking for and stopped before the black became too heavy.

The brown eyes are quite dramatic against the monotone black of the fur, and perhaps in the future I would keep them a bit lighter, but I like the contrast, and it almost gives it the feeling of one of those black and white photos where a bit of color has been added.

Overall I am quite happy with the result!

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Pet Portrait – Barney

Barney - Tricia GriffithBarney belongs to the same family as the six kitties portrait. So for this one, I set aside my thoughts of changing the style of my portraits in exchange for keeping the “feel” of the drawings the same for all of the portraits I’ve done for this client. This means a bit of a heavy style of work with colored pencils, which I think detracts from the “realness” of the portrait, but makes for interesting effects with the coat colors and markings.

I started Barney out with a light sketching of his head shape and the placement of things like his eyes, nose and ears. Then I also loosely penciled in some of the notable highlights and lowlights in his fur, marking areas where the brown fur would be, and the shiny highlights on the black fur.

With black pets, I like to start in a way that might seem a little bit opposite of how it should be; I start with a black colored pencil and use light strokes to color in where the highlights in the black fur will be. I then work with a bit heavier stroke in the darker black area, spending several hours slowly building up the layers of color.

For Barney, his reddish gold Rottweiler markings started out as a gold colored pencil, filling in all the places where there would ultimately be the final reddish gold color. Then I built up the layers of color in a few different shades of browns and golds until I got the desired effect.

I find dog noses kind of hard to draw, they’re an oddly shaped thing. So this time I did a Google image search for dog noses and found several close up shots to use as reference, I think this helped the overall final appearance of the nose. I also did some searching for eyes to try to better capture the color and light of the eyes, which to me are probably the most important feature of the drawing.

At the end, I did a bit of playing around with layers of white and pale blue to try to capture that shiny bluish effect that a glossy black coat sometimes seems to have, and then I added a blue background to kind of pull it all together and also to match the background of previous portraits I did for this client. I am quite happy with the final result!