Thanks to all my blog visitors who have come back every day this week. Furry Friends Week has been all about the pets. Cats, dogs and otherworldly creatures (if I may use the PISA tagline). Monday, I reviewed No Kitten Around by R.J. Blain. Tuesday was release day for Pets in Space 4 by a lot of authors. Wednesday I reviewed a few of my favorite stories in Pets in Space 4. And Thursday, I reviewed Catalyst by Jodi Wallace.
To cap off Furry Friends Week, we are staying right here on Earth. In fact, I am not even leaving town. My guest today lives in the same zip code as I do. I met Tracy Lovett a couple of years ago when I conned her into teaching an art class for the library. One class led to many classes as well as a new friendship.
Professional photographer, artist and author, Tracy is bundle of energy with a perpetually creative mind. Constantly looking for ways to market her photography services, but wanting to do something other than the typical (senior pictures, weddings) she started doing pet portraits. I took my Mini Australian Shepherd, Kellen, to her studio (with much trepidation – he was barely a year old at the time and a bundle of puppy energy). But both Kellen and Tracy were great! The result was a lovely bunch of photos of Kellen doing what he does best – that cute thang!
From there, Tracy built on pet photography and came up with Illustrated Tails. I selected one of the Kellen photos for Tracy to turn into an Illustrated Tails masterpiece.
The Illustrated Tails Creative Process by Tracy Lovett
When I start to illustrate, I take into consideration the color scheme of the animal, and the owner’s preference of colors. Generally, we have discussed the pose that will work the best for the illustration, and it is usually a head shot of sorts. So, I begin by blocking in basic shapes.
Eye placement is critical, as is nose, and I do sometimes revise this as I go along. If eyes and nose are wrong, EVERYTHING cascades into “wrongness” as I move forward. I usually use a colored background to provide either mid or dark tones to the illustration. This also serves as a bit of a “mood builder” for the drawing. A red background gives a much more energetic feel to the final piece than a tranquil blue background does. I take into account the personality of the dog, the personality of the owner, and the color of the dog when I make these decisions.
After basic color blocking is done, I work with more details, adding shading, highlights, and big fur details. As I move along, my brush size gets smaller and smaller, because the details become much more fine. The last portions of the drawing are fur texture and details, highlights in the eyes, and some lighting decisions. For instance, is the animal back-lit a bit, making a slight glow around the edges of the ears and top of the head? I often draw the tiny, highlighted hairs individually to give the feel of golden sunshine falling on the animal. In the very end, I make a background decision. Do I want a simple, plain background, or do I like something more complex and layered? Kellen ended up layered–it just felt right to me and to his owners.
I use a Wacom Intuos Pro graphics tablet and pen with over 8000 levels of pressure sensitivity to do the primary illustrations. My favorite media are conte’ crayon and pastel, but I do use others, depending upon the feel I want. My favorite illustrating software is Corel Painter. Between all of these digital tools, it is the closest thing to freehand drawing on paper that I can get, without ACTUALLY getting out the paper and the pastels. The pen feels the same as it does on paper, the pressure sensitivity is just as if I was drawing at my drawing table. Heavy pressure produces heavier lines and deeper color, and lighter pressure is just the opposite. I love illustrating this way, because it not only creates beautiful art, but it is art that can then be applied to different products for the owner–canvas, coffee mugs, tshirts, jewelry–the list is endless. It makes me smile when I perform this process, and it always brings the owner great joy to have their pet turned into an original illustration. It’s one of my favorite art practices.
Tracy, thank you so much for giving us a glimpse at your creative process!
In Kellen’s case, Tracy worked from one of her own photographs, but can also use good quality photos that a customer sends to her. She ships her products all over the United States so pet parents everyone can show off their furry friends.
I don’t know about you folks, bu I absolutely love what she did! Want to see a couple more Illustrated Tails? Say hello Muffin and Harley……
About Tracy Lovett
For this part, Tracy gave me a few notes and along with editorial license to write this bio. Even said I could make things up. From what I know, this should be fairly accurate:
Tracy Lovett has lived in Sidney, IA for 20 years. She has written 9 kids books, several of which feature her cat Soda Pop. Tracy’s photography business, Images By Tracy Lovett, has been in operation for 20 years. She claims she is photographer by day, crazy creative person by night. She lives by the credo “Losing my mind, one creative project at a time.” With this attitude, she encourages other to do the same. (I have been so encouraged.)
Tracy loves animals alot and people sometimes (Tracy’s words. Though I share that sentiment, truth is, Tracy is always kind to everyone, so I’m not sure I believe her.)
Tracy has been married to Mike for 22 years, has 4 kids, 4 cats, and one dog. At any time, Mike, kids and pets may become subjects in her photos, art, and stories.
Find Tracy here: