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Diprose Art Blog

What's new . . .

I am, as usual, trying to do more than one thing at a time!  I have been working on commissions and trying to decorate my little studio too.  The studio is now sort of half done - it will be lovely and tranquil - I hope - but I have given up trying to beautify it in favour of working on my commissions.  I will be honest - I'd much rather be painting dogs than walls . . . !

I have just finished two works - one of a very elderly Jack Russell Terrier called Bea.  She is 15 I think and a real sweetie.  She is slightly timid, has lost quite a few teeth and is very fond of her coat so I have painted her in her clothes as it were.  Her owner is an elderly gentleman and the painting is a surprise for his birthday from his wife.  I am really glad that Bea is shown as she is now - she has real character and is a grand little old lady.  I could have tried to recapture some of her youth if I was asked but I think it is lovely that she is loved and appreciated just as she is.

Diprose Art pet portrait painting

The second commission I have be doing is of two German Shepherd puppies, so age wise the other end of the spectrum fro Bea.  They were adorable - soft fluffy and cheeky looking.  Sadly their owner lost one of them when he was still very young.  I think this is heartbreaking for any dog lover and just so unfair.  You really expect to have your friend around to love for at least a good few years.  This is also a present so I hope it makes a lovely keepsake as he will never be forgotten.  I am really glad that my client decided to have both pups painted together as I think that playing happily with his friend is the best way to remember him.

Diprose Art oet portrait painting

Finally a bit of Easter fun - I have just done this drawing for a colouring competition for the vets that I used to work for.  I loved colouring as a small child - well I would, wouldn't I!  But, for me as a child, the picture would have to have lots of small fiddly bits - colouring in big areas is boring - with plenty of different colour opportunities so I have tried to do an Easter themed cartoon which would have pleased the child me!  I really hope the children enjoy it.

Feel free to have a go!

Best wishes Michelle


What I'm up to at the moment . . .

I made myself a New Year's resolution that that I would keep my website blog up to date . . . er well good intentions and all that.  However I am going to try!  

This painting of a bay horse is one that I was really happy with.  To be honest my life was made much easier by the fact that I had very good reference to work from - a large A4 very sharp photo.  It does make a difference because I could see so much detail.  Sometimes I have to work from the photos provided as they are the only ones that exist but if they are not a good likeness to the subject then, with the best will in the world - and I will always give it my best shot - the portriat can only be as good as the photos I am working from.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get any feedback from this painting but, sadly,this is not so unusual.  I must admit that this happens more often than you may think.  I can only surmise that the recipient was happy or I am sure I would have heard otherwise!  I find it strange because I really care that I have done the best I can and I put a lot of myself into the work.  It is, after all,  not an off the shelf product but a unique and very personal piece.  


Dragon Lady

. . .  and now for something completely different!  My Dragon Lady I did some years ago now and she is a bit special to me because she was my first attempt at painting a "people" portrait.  I just did it for a bit of fun really.  It's good to push your boundaries every so often just to see what you can do.  Or can't!.  I have put her for sale on Artfinder so if you are interested you can get to her via the shop link through this website. She is painted in oils on artboard.  I still love working in oils although I don't get the chance to do so very often these days as they are expensive to use and their slow drying time makes for a much more time consuiming work.

cartoon horse Diprose Art

I have just done this cartoon, along with a few others on the same theme, for PETS Ltd.  They are doing a charity fund raiser to try and buy a mechanical horse for disabled children to learn to ride on.  A very worthwhile cause and something I am proud to be a small part of.

Well I shall shut up now and try and do updates a bit more often!  Bye x



Christmas fun



The run up to Christmas is for me my busiest time which is not surprising.  But I love it.  I like having lots of different things to do and have been enjoying the work very much.  The down side to this is I don't have much time for Christmas preparations for myself so I am a last minute wonder!

The other problem I have is I can't show off much of the work I have been doing just in case I inadvertently spoil someone's surprise!  You will get to see more of what I have been up to after the festivities once my clients have had their paintings.

I will put on the ones I can for now and say a little bit about them . . . 

german shorthair pointer
This lovely boy belonged to my friend Karen - I have warned her he is going on my website so I hope she wont peek!  I'm really looking forward to handing this one over although it is also rather sad as he is no longer with us.  Having an old pointer boy myself makes it all the more poignant for me.

Anyway I really hope everyone has a great Christmas - I certainly intend to!

Halloween fun

halloween pumpkin carving
Hello, I have just had a great Halloween - for the first time in my life I had a go at carving pumkins!  It was great fun but quite difficult as one of them was a very large pumpkin.  I am proud to say I grew it myself and it was 4'8" round it's fat heavy middle.  It weighed over four and a half stone!  Love letting my imagination run wild . . . 

Children's colouring book for the vets

Sometimes I get asked to do cartoons and I have to say it makes a nice change to do something completely different.  It may surprise you that cartoons actually take me as long to do as a full portrait!  Why?  well, with a portrait, for example, I know exactly what I am doing to start with!  This may sound odd but what I mean is the image is obviously going to be a likeness of my reference photos.  With cartoons I have to think out the ideas to start with.  Even if you are told what is needed you still have to conceptualise and visualise what the images will look like and if they will fulfil the brief.

You then have to do numerous rough sketches to get them right.  Once you have the ideas and have roughed out the images you then need to create the smart version and, if they are going into print, these need to be very precise and clean.  If colour is a requirement then the cartoons will need tinting too.

The following ones I have put on my blog just for interest really.  They are for children's colouring books for a vets waiting room.  The look pretty simple but are the result of three days work and about 40+ sketches!  I hope you like them!

  children's colouring book cartoon - kitten 1 cover Sox the puppy's Story Nibbles the rabbit's Story
children's colouring book cartoon - kitten 2 children's colouring book cartoon - kitten 3 children's colouring book cartoon - kitten 4
children's colouring book cartoon - kitten 5 children's colouring book cartoon - pup 2 children's colouring book cartoon - pup 3
children's colouring book cartoon - pup 4 children's colouring book cartoon - pup 5 children's colouring book cartoon - rabbit 2
children's colouring book cartoon - rabbit 3 children's colouring book cartoon  - rabbit 4  

Fern - the final stages.


Now for the last stages of Fern's portrait.

Stage 11 - masking her from her background.  This is done with Frisk film which is a low tack (not very sticky . . . and sodding expensive) clear plastic film which you lay over the area you wish to protect.  The outline is then carefully cut round using a scalpel blade and the outside peeled off leaving Fern covered over.  I then use my airbrush to spray over the top to put on the "background".

Pet portrait - Fern the collie - painting in progress

Stage 12 - this shows my airbrushing over the top of the masked off image.  I try to contrast the darker areas of background against the lighter ares of Fern and vice versa to make her stand out. For this background I have gone for shades of purple and green against the grey.

Pet portrait - Fern the Collie - painting in progress

Stage 13 - now the good bit! I have peeled off the Frisk film to reveal Fern and see how she looks in her new background.  I think she stands out well so I won't make any alterations to the background.  At this stage she looks a bit chopped off and cut out so I now need to make her a part of her background by blending her neck into it and putting fine detail - such as hairs and whiskers in over the top of the background.

Pet portrait - Fern the Collie - painting in progress

Stage 14 - the last part - this is when I add the finest details and stand back and check that I have it right.  This takes more time than you may think - but then I am a bit of a perfectionist and want Fern to look as good - or hopefully in this case particularly - better than her photo.  I enjoy the fiddly bits to be honest.  I know her owners wanted me to make her look her age so I will put a few grey hairs back in.


.Pet portrait - Fern the Collie  - painting in progress 14

Fern is now finished!  She looks a really sweet old girl and I know she is missed so much by her people.

Pet portrait - Fern the Collie - painting in progress - 15


Fern continues . . .

I am now starting the next stages of Fern.  The eyes are such an important part of a portrait that I spend quite a lot of time on them - so the next stage - stage 6 - is starting to build up the detail in and around her eyes.  I put the black pupil in and the shadow of her eyelids.

pet portrait - Fern the collie - painting in progress

Stage 7 - using warm grey watercolour pencils I go over the black areas and soften the hard edges.

pet portrait - Fern the Collie - painting in progress

Stage 8 detail on her eyes - I shade the brown areas with burnt umber and spot in teh shiny white highlight.  I add Cerulean blue to the edges of the white highlight to reflect the sky.

Pet portrait - 8th stage - Fern the Collie - painting in progress

Stage 9 - pure black is rather flat and dull so I work other colours into the black areas to give her more life - such as purples, pinks, greens, blues and ochres.  It might sound strange but shiny black will reflect colours around it and when you add the other colours into the black it will bring it to life and make it more natural.  Weird but true.

Pet portrait - Fern the Collie - 9th stage - painting in progress

10th stage - the white bits - I go back over all the white areas to emphasize the whitest bits and add white to bring out the shine of her nose and tag.

I'm going to leave it here for today as the next stage will involve airbrushing so I need her to be dry before I can mask her off from her background.


Fern the Collie - work in progress . . .

pet portriat - Fern the Collie - painting in progress
Hi welcome to my blog - I thought I would try and share not just my paintings but also how I get there with you.  I showed my artwork progress on my Facebook page and it proved popular so here goes!

I have just started a new commission - this one is for an elderly collie called Fern.  Unfortunately Fern is no longer with us and sadly her owners did not have many photos of her.  The ones I have to go on are not great quality and very limited in number so I will have my work cut out with this piece.  I have to say good photos really make a difference as I can see so much more detail.  I like to see my subject and take photos myself if I can because I think it gives me a chance to really look at and hopefully understand my subject better.  In the end I think I get a better result.  This is not possible for this commission so I shall just have to try my best and hope I get a good likeness from the photos I have to work with.

Fern's owners also would like her depicted as she was when she past away so with her grey hairs.  I like this because having an elderly dog myself I love him just the way he is now - he is not less because he is older and has a few grey whiskers . . . then again neither am I.  Age and experience should be celebrated too.

I begin, as always, with the drawing.  I am in fact working from a photo which shows Fern when she was younger because it shows her eyes off better.  I intend to make the finished painting look more like her mature self if I can.



The second stage is done by doing a very light wash of Paynes Grey watercolour over the "black" areas and a light wash of titanium white acrylic over the white bits


.Fern painting third stage - pet portrait

The third stage is the browns - I use burnt sienna as the base coat for her eyes and burnt umber for her collar - with a little yellow ochre for her disc.


pet portrait - fourth stage - Fern the Collie

The fourth stage is where I wash in teh shadows - again with Paynes Grey watercolour but also now with a little ivory black too.  She is starting to look a little more 3D.

pet portrait - Fern the Collie - fifth stage

The Fifth stage - more shadows being built up and the eye pupils go in.  She is starting to look more like a dog now!  The card I use to paint on is getting quite damp now with all the layers of washes so I think I'd better stop and let it dry!  I always stop and stand back and look at my painting in between the stages as you get a much better idea of how the work is building from a distance.  You can get too bogged down with detail and not see it properly if you don't.  Time for a glass of wine I think . . .  feel like I've earnt it!


What's New!

This is my most recent portrait - if you would like to see how it was done then visit my Facebook page where you can see all the stages I went through to create this painting.





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