How to create an Artist’s Portfolio

Today I had a display at Gilbert White’s House and Gardens in Hampshire. My portfolio was a great feature, people spent ages flicking through and seeing the extent of my skills. It also sparked several interesting conversations and leads.

In short, a portfolio is the perfect way to show off your skills in an effective and physical way, without relying on computers or the internet to access your gallery.

They can be created simply without too much expense or materials, and yet still look professional!

You will need

  • Large (9×7) photographs of your completed works
  • Small (6×4) photographs of your muse images
  • Printed out titles
  • Printed out testimonials from happy customers
  • A large, plain black self-adhesive photo album
  • Guillotine / ruler & scissors

Step 1: Get your photographs printed. I got mine done at Boots pharmacy, and the good thing is that you can edit the photos on the screen to make them fit to the size of the photograph so that no vital parts are cropped out.

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Step 2: Cut off any white edges using a guillotine for sharp lines. I borrowed one at work in my lunch hour.

Step 3: Set out your photos on the page, without peeling back the self-adhesive layer yet. Give the photographs a slight overlap if necessary.

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Step 4: Work out what remaining space you have on your page to fill with the project title and testimonials. Then chose an appropriate font, text size and layout to fit the surrounding space. Keep the font and size regular for all titles, and all other text, but vary the layout as the space allows.

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Step 5: Cut up the testimonials and titles, again using a guillotine if you can.

Step 6: Choose which order you would like to present the portfolio in. I chose chronological (it seemed logical.)

Step 7: Peel pack the plastic layer to expose the adhesive, leaving it still stuck at the far edge so it can be reapplied easily. Carefully press down your photographs and text in your practiced layout, and then swipe the plastic layer back into place using your forearm to get even pressure.

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Step 8: Wash, rinse, repeat (just without the washing and rinsing.)

A word of caution – although the pages are thick, take extra care that you do not accidently skip a page, because every time you peel back the plastic layer to rearrange pages, the adhesive loses a bit of its stick, and it is a little soul wrenching to have to do it AGAIN.

Ta da, a beautiful coffee table portfolio to show people.
Just take care that no-one walks away with it!

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How to paint a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel

You may have spotted him at the Fayre, or you may just be coming across him now. This is Bertie the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy. Judging by his expression, he knows he is royalty. He has a grumpy ‘superior than thou’ expression and gangly legs. Admit it, he is absolutely adorable!

You will need:

  • A lot of time and patience
  • 30cm x 40cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic Paint:
    • White
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Rich Gold
    • Mars Black
    • Cadmium Red

1. Choose your composition: I didn’t have to crop my photograph as it was already a closely cropped image. The customer asked me to keep the background exactly as it was. 
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2. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same. You will probably have to crop parts of your photo and expand it to fill the space.

3. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

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4. Paint the background: The customer wanted the background painted exactly as in the photograph. This was a pink rug and a window. To paint the rug I used various shades of pink and red, and a small round paintbrush to rub the paint in spirals into the canvas. To paint the window, I used a lot of masking tape, a steady hand, and about 50 shades of grey ;-).

5. Begin painting in the beautiful curly ears. This is using a range of rich siennas, raw and burnt umber, gold, flesh tint, etc. Use little round brushes and short curly strokes with a slightly watery paint.

Extend the shades onto the face around the eyes, leaving the nose and a stripe up the forehead in white. Concentrate on the direction of the hairs in the photograph – the top of the ears stick upwards and are paler.

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6. Rim the eyes with a near-black (black mixed with brown or blue or yellow.) Start to paint them in in shades of deep grey to bring out the spherical shape. Put glints in the eyes to bring them to life.

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7.Paint the body in grey. Once you have the grey base you can use paler greys and flesh tint to pick out lighter sections and shadows using a small round brush.

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8. Paint in the nose – make the nostrils a deep black, with a black line up the middle. The rest is a deep grey in a rounded heart shape. Pick out white glints to make it look damp.

Bring out the characteristic downturned mouth. King charles spaniels look grumpy. Really cute, but grumpy. Play on that!
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9. Paint in the collar. If you use metalic paint and a bit of nifty shading, metal rings and disks look very real!

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10. Decide that following the photograph is a bad idea after all and that limbs appear to be going everywhere! Re-paint the legs by researching other photos where dogs are sitting more nicely! *please note, forward planning and a better photo can eliminate this stage!!

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11. Sniff test of approval?

Bertie and painting