Choosing a medium

I offer pet portraits in pastels or coloured pencils, which you'll receive professionally mounted between a soft white conservation mount and backing board, ready to pop  into a frame. The two mediums are quite similar visually, however, there are differences, so here's a brief overview to help you choose the one that's right for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I'm always happy to help.

You can see examples of each medium below and  more can be found in my portfolio.

Pastels portrait


Pastels have a soft finish which is superb for reproducing the textures of fur or feathers and they are a popular choice for pet portraits.

I use high grade professional quality soft pastels and pastel pencils, which have strong, light-fast pigments.  These are applied to an acid-free substrate such as 'Pastelmat'', which is specifically designed for use with pastels, eliminating the need for fixative sprays.  I first lay down a tonal layer to identify light and dark areas. Colours are built up in further layers, working from from dark to light, with details and highlights added towards the end. 

Pastels are like a soft chalk, so there is a risk of smudging if care is not taken whilst handling an unframed painting. The pastelmat holds the pastel particles wonderfully, but I do recommend having the portrait framed asap.

It is best to have pastels portraits framed under glass and I fully recommend using a professional framer rather than buying a frame off the shelf. The acrylic glazing in most frames purchased online will contain a static charge when the protective film is peeled off. If the static is not removed, it can cause pastel particles to lift from the surface and cling to the underside of the glazing, as well as attracting household dust and other particles.

Coloured pencils

Unlike the colouring pencils you may remember from childhood, these coloured pencils are on a completely different level. Like pastels, the technique used involves building up layers of colour. Unlike pastels, it is possible to sharpen the pencils to a very fine point, making them an excellent choice for portraits with fine detail.

As with the pastels I use, all my pencils are professional grade, with strong pigments that have excellent lightfast properties. They are applied to an acid-free substrate, which is either 'Pastelmat'' or 100% cotton paper. These result in distinctly different styles of portrait. When using 'Pastelmat' I'll colour the background with pastels and the overall effect is very similar in appearance to pastels. If 100% cotton paper is used, the background will be left white, resulting in a clean look with a strong contrast between the subject and background.

Whilst coloured pencils are not as soft as pastels, there is a small risk of smudging if you brush something across the surface, so care should always be taken. It is a little easier to frame coloured pencil portraits under acrylic glazing, however, I still recommend using the services of a professional framer to do your portrait justice.

Coloured pencils pet portrait