Tricia Griffith – Fine Art

Leave a comment

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.



Leave a comment

Corrugated Art: Sea Horse

I 10730878_10152801578332356_3077132377593481515_nhappened across a two pack of 8 x 10 stretched canvasses for a whole dollar at the Goodwill one day, and decided it’d be fun to do a couple more small 3D pieces, since I enjoyed making the small leaves for the All Small exhibit.

I decided to try a sea creature for this one, and thought that the texture of the cardboard might lend itself well to the seahorse. I had a little fun using some texturizing medium and a piece of the corrugated cardboard to make wave-like background.

10583881_10152610699132356_2323826002776020375_nThe first layer was cut out in a whole seahorse outline and attached to the wavy background and added a few more layers of cardboard. For the last layer, I used a similar technique to the autumn leaves, turning them to create an angle similar to the patterns on the seahorses I was using as a reference. A piece of the peeled cardboard paper was cut and folded fan-like to create the back fin.

10584026_10152612926582356_5992984927651180830_nI painted the seahorse in layers of yellow ochre and orange to create a color similar to that of the model seahorses. The tail of this particular species of seahorse is transparent, so I incorporated the background color into the tail to create a transparent effect.

Once I was happy with the seahorse and the background water colors, I knew I wanted him to have his tail wrapped around something in the signature seahorse pose. I created some 3D grass for him to hang out in and add a little more depth to the work. The final result was kind of fun!

The original of this work is still available.


Leave a comment

Corrugated Art: Birch Tree

corrugated birchWe had a TON of boxes in our spare room after the holidays, between ordering supplies and receiving gifts, and it was kind of all just festering there, creating a fire hazard. One day I said, “We really need to recycle all that cardboard or start making art out of it… HEY! Wait a minute!”

With that sudden burst of inspiration, I started considering what I could do with the cardboard to make art. I have long admired the work of assemblage artists like my friend Scott Rolfe, and wondered what kind of assemblage-like work I would create, given the materials and the opportunity. So, when presented with this pile of cardboard and the desire to make art with it, I realized that cardboard was really ideal for the types of earthy, nature themed artwork that I enjoy making.

The first idea I had was to make a great blue heron, but I was worried that was biting off a bit more than I was ready for, at least until I had an idea how this process was going to work. So, for my inaugural cardboard assemblage art, I chose one of my most favorite art topics, a tree!

tree beginningsI sketched out a rough outline of what I wanted to create on piece of gator board coated in gesso, and essentially began cutting out random strips of cardboard and layering them here and there to create the tree. Before too long I realized that if I peeled off the top layer of paper, the corrugations made an excellent tree bark texture. With that, I began cutting the strips more deliberately to ensure that the lines of the corrugation were going the direction I wanted them to.

I didn’t want to use one large piece cut into the tree or tree branch shape, I felt that would make it too flat. I wanted the different sizes and shapes of pieces to add to the texture of the tree and create what I felt would look more like a natural roughness and variations to the tree bark. I created not just branches, but roots, to give it a balanced, kind of “Tree of Life” feel.

birch no leavesOnce I had all the branches and roots I felt I wanted done in the cardboard, I applied another layer of gesso over everything, and began by painting the background. I had debated actually creating the whole background first and then attaching the tree, but I wasn’t sure how well that would go, and decided that it was probably better worth the effort to just paint around everything.

I really let the background paint overlap over the branches a lot, which made it a little harder when it came time to paint the tree, but helped to make sure I got it into all the nooks and crannies. Incidentally, I was originally planning to paint the tree bark brown until I saw the white of the gesso against the background and thought it was really cool, so then I said, hey, it can be a birch tree!

I added in smaller branches and roots with a brush to give it a bit more background depth and detail. And used pale greys, browns and silver to create the “birch colors”. All the while I was creating it, I was pondering how I would do the leaves. I realized that nothing less than 3D leaves would look good, so I finally hit upon the idea to use the paper that I had peeled off the cardboard to create the leaves. I started out cutting them out and painting them individually, but thankfully realized that was kind of dumb pretty fast! I then took larger sheets of the paper, painted it in assorted shades of green, yellow and gold, then cut out dozens of leaves, which I then attached to the branches, letting them reach beyond the edges of the board to continue the 3D effect.

This original is sold!

Thanks for reading!


Leave a comment

Pet Portrait – Bagel

Bagel PortraitI was pretty excited about this portrait for a couple of reasons, and the first one is – I love the dog’s name, Bagel! I just love food names for pets! The other reason I was excited about this one was because it was my first order from my experimental listing on my Etsy page. Also a large majority of my portraits are for people I know, or friends of people I know, so it’s always nice to have an order from another source to mix things up a little!

This was a smaller size than I usually work in, 8×10 for the original, but still plenty of room to work. I also have really come to enjoy doing portraits in graphite, although when drawing white animals with colored pencil, my go to method has been to use blue to create the shadowy areas and kind of make the white “pop”, so it was a little harder to wrap my brain around just using graphite to create a sense of shading and fur without making him end up grey.

This portrait was completed with the help of three moderate quality photos of Bagel as it was a surprise birthday present and it would have been problematic to get higher quality photos without raising suspicion. I also used some photos of other American Bulldogs to help get some of the bone structure and finer details.

I was using a new scanner when I scanned this image, so I feel like it doesn’t *quite* do the original justice, but the client seemed happy with the results, and I was pretty pleased with how young Bagel turned out!


Leave a comment

Pet Portrait – Simon

Simon FB

I did this portrait as a surprise birthday present for a friend, so I couldn’t ask her for some good photos of him without giving it away. This meant I scoured her Facebook wall for photos of him, and used several different images of random quality as a reference for the drawing. Ideally a couple of really high quality photos are best, but if I have several lower quality photos, I can usually use bits and pieces of each to get the features needed for the portrait.

Again with this portrait, I used a lighter style, with softer layers of first pencil to get started and then slowly building up layers of colored pencil in black, blue, a couple of shades of brown, and even silver, to get the subtle colors that make Simon such a handsome boy.

Emphasizing the eyes I think brings some expressiveness to the drawing and gives it a bit of personality.

The original is 11×14 on Bristol board.

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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!