fine art cat pet portraits by commission
Welcome to our Cat Portraits Studio and Materials page! As you may know from viewing our website, my name is Melanie and along with my husband Nicholas Beall we paint portraits of cats in pencil and oil. We work in our custom built studio in our woodland garden, which you can see in the photo below. We both work here every day and we make our morning commute to work down through our garden. We had our studio installed in 2014 and designed it around our needs as artists. It is fully insulated with double glazed doors and windows heated with an air source heat pump all year round. Its a very relaxing working environment.
We each have our own areas to work in the studio along with the end of the studio being the packing, photographing and entertaining clients area. We have professional photography lights above the plan chest so that we can take photos of the artwork all year around. Living in Wales, its often very dark and rainy, so lighting is important! You can also see Lily our dog sleeping in her bed there too.
The photo below shows my working environment. I sit at a tilting desk and draw all of my portraits. I use a a macbook pro connected to a monitor for emails, accounts, designing customers portraits and designing and maintain this website. It's good to have something that I can take back and forth to the cottage with to do work up there if needed. As there are always things to do!! We use professional lighting to draw and paint by. You can see just one of the lights we use in the photo below. It is so important for artists to have good lighting, particularly as we live and work in Wales.
Nicholas prefers to work standing at his easel to create his cat portraits. Painting in oils is very different to pencil and you need to be able to stand back and move around quite a bit so this standing easel works really well for him. He has a movable kitchen trolley to keep all of his art materials in which is handy.
We are always busy in the studio and work to long waiting lists and so often have deliveries of canvases. We exclusively use Harris Moore Canvases for our cat portraits. We wouldn’t use any other canvas maker as they are truly the best in the UK. They make their canvases from Italian Linen and stretch them on Hardwood, tulip wood stretcher bars and so the canvases will last a lifetime and more. We order our canvases from them bespoke for each cat portrait we create. This means our clients can have any size and shape required. The photo below shows a collection of canvases which has just arrived ready for the next set of oil portrait commissions!
Nicholas creates all of his cat portrait paintings using traditional oil paints. He uses a number of sizes and brands of brushes for painting his cat portraits and I have taken a photo of one of his pots of brushes below. He has three different collections of brushes and this is his new set which we keep fully stocked at all times. You may be surprised to see the very large brushes in the photo and these are used when he has really large paintings with soft backgrounds to paint.
I specialise in drawing cats in graphite pencil and I find this a wonderful medium to use. It suits 'me' and the way I work. I have loved using pencil right from the early days at school. We had the opportunity to use paints and colours of all types, however my go to medium was always pencil. I use a variety of different brands including Derwent, Steadier Mars Lumograph and my favourite Faber Castell which you can see pictured below. They don't stay looking new like this for long, these were brand new and just out of the packet.
The photo below is a close up of one of my cat pencil portraits and you can see my Faber Castell Pencils laid over the drawing to help give scale. The paper I use is called Italian Fabriano and its a good surface to work on for my cat portraits. I again purchase the paper and my pencils from Jacksons Art here in the UK and would thoroughly recommend them.
The other materials I wouldn't want to work without are a good quality putty eraser (I use Faber Castel brand), a Helix hand wound pencil sharpener which I purchased from Amazon and a few different mechanical pencils for fine detail and shading.
I sometimes use a battery operated eraser for lifting out areas such as the highlight in the cats eyes and cats whiskers although if I'm prepared enough during the drawing I try to leave these as the white of the paper without the need for erasing. This is how I created the whiskers in the cat portrait below. i shaded around each one, rather than shading the pencil over the entire area and then lifting the graphite off after.
The photo below shows my drawing desk with me sitting working on a cat portrait. Although a drawing desk isn’t really classed as materials, I couldn’t work without it. It has varying positions you can set the slant at, which is perfect for my needs. its large enough to accommodate most of the sizes of my drawings and when I have a larger portraits to do, i clamp a large piece of ply to it to make the overall surface larger. You can also see from the photos below, that our studio is nestled in between trees, our view out through the back windows is amazing. The hedge line is speckled with tress and they continue into the filed below us and then it flows into a grassy meadow. Perfect for bird watching and we feed the birds just outside our windows. If you would like to see our studio in more detail, have a look at our Garden Studio page.
The final photo below is of Nicholas signing one of his cat paintings. All of our paintings and drawings are completed by ourselves in our little studio, hence our fairly long waiting lists. If you are interested in having a painting or drawing of your cat created by us, please do drop us a line at any time. We hope that you have enjoyed our Studio and Materials page and found it interesting. If you have any questions let us know!