If you have a question about deciding what medium you'd like for your pet's portrait, by all means, ask: Email me, use the chat box to the right or call 412-828-8679.
That’s a very good question! It does depends a lot on the breed. For example, my current dog Rosie is a black Standard Poodle — it almost makes no difference at all whether I use color or black and white! On the other hand, our dear, departed Irish Setter’s beautiful coloring shines in an oil pastel portrait (left below). The pencil portrait on the right was done from the same photo, so you can see the difference. Pencil emphasizes the expression and character more without the distraction of color. It also allows more detail and emphasizes the texture of the coat. I love working in either medium.
When I want both detail and color, I combine watercolor and colored pencil. That’s the medium for the three kitties below. To the right is a black-and-white (graphite) pencil drawing of the middle cat below for you to compare:
Again, even with the level of detail being equal, black-and-white emphasizes the expression, draws attention to the eyes. You can almost feel the texture of her soft fur — more so than with the color portrait above, which instead highlights her tortoise-shell coloring (similar coloring and texture to Belgian Tervuren’s, true?).
It boils down to your individual taste and budget. I sell more of the graphite black and white portraits — I don’t think anyone misses the color. Most people comment on the eyes -- “I feel like she’s looking right at me with that begging look!” or texture (“I can just feel her silky ears”) with the black-and-whites. With the color, they usually comment on soft coloring of the coat.
To summarize, here are some things to consider when choosing between black-and-white and color:
Yes -- my Master's degree is in museum studies, so conservation (archival) quality is very important to me. I use 100% cotton, acid-free professional quality papers or boards that won't yellow or become brittle with time.
I choose artist quality color media, meaning that they are also acid-free and contain pigments that are as lightfast as possible. Pigments vary in their lightfastness. For example, alizarin crimson, a traditional dark red, is notorious for fading, but the sienna and umber earth colors (really-- they come from the earth!) are stable for a long time. The companies who make the high quality oil pastels, colored pencils and watercolors I use are constantly looking for more lightfast pigments and rate all their pigments for lightfastness. I stick with the most lightfast colors, because nowadays, they've developed replacements for the traditional pigments most likely to fade. Graphite, by the way, is naturally lightfast.
Still, any artwork will get dirty and possibly fade or yellow if not framed correctly. All art on paper should be matted and framed behind glass for protection. The mat keeps the glass from touching the surface of the artwork and the frame filters harmful UV light and keeps dust landing on the artwork. Framers offer UV-filtering glass for even more protection, if the artwork will be hung in bright light (it should never be hung in direct sunlight, however).
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