My name's Andrew Howard and I produce portraits of dogs, cats and horses as Yorkshire Pet Portraits. I'm based in South Yorkshire near Doncaster and I've always drawn and painted. I have always been obssessed with achieving an almost photographic standard in my work. 'Why wouldn't an artist be?!' was always my view. To turn a blank sheet of paper or canvas into a near photographic image is an incredible thing to achieve!
To try and get there, I started off with the usual coloured pencils and pens as a child. (Too much white paper showing through and inconsistent colour). In my teens advanced to painting with gouache, (strange stuff). Then I tried a compressor powered airbrush, (too much cleaning out and masking off). I later tried acrylics (dried too fast to do much with!) before trying oil paints having seen someone in my art class at sixth form college using them. I took to them like a duck to water! Whilst studying for my degree in Industrial Product Design I continued to paint a great deal with oils.
(Above) A selection of well-received childhood drawings...
The first pet portrait, a dog called Benji (lhasa apso), came about as wedding present for a work colleague. The oil painting went down well and Yorkshire Pet Portraits blossomed from there!
(Above) "Benji", pet portrait No.1
Initially all colour portraits were in oils, though I found it's a very time consuming way of working. Oil paintings, whilst hugely enjoyable to do, can take days to dry and requires many sessions. I discovered I could achieve a similar level of colourful detail using yet another 'new-to-me' media, pastels which allowed prices to be more affordable. Portraits can now be produced in pastel, pencil (monotone) or oils depending on your budget and which your prefer.
It's obligatory for artists to tell you they use only the highest quality materials on their websites. Painting and drawing would be a frustrating experience and most likely a counter-productive process if we were to use the cheapest paints and brushes we could lay our hands on! I use Windsor and Newton oil paints and canvas and Faber-Castell pastel pencils with Windsor and Newton pastel paper.
I personally don't make frames and I have always supplied my portraits without frames. Frames are often required to compliment an existing picture with a long obsolete frame design. Or the choice of frames is so bewildering or limited, it's not easy to convey to the customer. Supplying portraits unframed also makes shipping easier as there's no glass to break or frame to damage. Though to assist, I try to keep all portraits to standard 'industry' frame sizes and proportions, 16" x 20" is the one I use the most. This is the overall size of the pastel paper or canvas and the aperture size of the frame, so just look for a 16" x 20" frame at places such as The Range or Wilko and there will be a decent selection. Alternatively, a framing shop local to you will be happy to make one up for you.
I've often heard artists say, 'Oh, I don't paint this and that' or 'I'm no good at painting such and such.' Personally I think it's possible to paint everything (some things may be easier than others I grant you) As some of my customers will testify, I'm not one to shy away from a challenge!
(Above) '150th Annniversary of Doncaster Plant Works' - My first railway painting, turned out to be a very ambitious painting! (Below) Never having designed a single book cover before, I was commissioned to design original artwork for the latest editions of the original 35 Saint stories for Hodder & Stoughton. A huge fan of the Saint adventures, I set to work designing a simple and striking set of covers that reflected the nature of the stories. (The Saint stickman logo is a registered trademark and is used by kind permission of The Estate of Leslie Charteris.)
So if you have a particular idea for a painting or drawing and are unsure who to ask, give me a call. I'm easy to talk to and I'll give you an honest appraisal as to the work involved and the time required.
Hope you like the portraits you see on the Yorkshire Pet Portraits website and if you fancy your own, please don't hesitate to get in touch. For information on other types of art, please visit www.andrewhoward.co.uk
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. "Yorkshire Pet Portraits" name and logo are trademarks of Andrew Howard Fine Art. Images may not be reproduced without permission. Pet Portraits, Dog Portraits, Cat Portraits and Horse Portraits by Andrew Howard