Meet Winnie…

Completed pet portrait of Winnie (a black cat with green eyes). This is a mixed media artwork featuring Winnie, two dragons, three yellow and black swallowtail butterflies, a turtle cat toy, starbucks mug with cat paw print, gold clock, Winnie the pooh and friends (Tigger and Eyore), two framed photos of Winnie, and a computer screen with Skyrim video game in the background. The entire background is a brightly colored steampunk gears theme, featuring metal embellishments of keys, gears, and a lock.
“Winnie” a 24″ x 24″ mixed-media artwork on wood panel.

Many years ago, my best friend, Cindy (AKA gamer handle Frizzy Dragon), rescued a tiny black cat that she hand raised and bottle fed. She named him Winston, but called him Winnie for short (as in Winnie the Pooh). He was the love of her life and captured a piece of her heart forever. Winnie lived to be a wonderful old age and had the perfectly pampered life. In tribute, Cindy asked me to create an artwork featuring Winnie and some other things that also make her heart sing. I chose to show you in this blog post how I used our TCW mediums and stencil to create Winnie’s portrait.

The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.

Cindy’s request was to create a central portrait of Winnie ala Albert. Albert is an otter who resides with his brother, Tony, at the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center. Two years ago, I was selected by a jury to be paired with Albert and for the two of us to collaborate on an artwork together. To view the collaboration video with Albert, click this link to view the video. To view the video of the finalized artwork of Albert’s Steampunk Dreams, click this link to view the video. (This was the artwork that helped me gain my place on the TCW Design Team!)

Cindy absolutely loved the bright colorful style of Albert, and requested that her portrait of Winnie take a similar approach and feel. Beyond that, she left the design and elements up to me. This was a huge responsibility. Painting a portrait of a beloved pet for your best friend, and capturing him just right is more than a bit nerve wracking. However, let me also say that if you present your friend with the final portrait and she is speechless, gasps, and bursts into tears, or all three, it generally means you’ve nailed it. 😉

Cindy had emailed me her favorite photos of Winnie. She told me that for her it was his eyes that spoke to her. Now, I’m a great artist, but if there’s one thing I don’t rock at, it’s proportion sometimes, especially when it really matters. With a beloved pet portrait, there’s no way I’m going to take the risk of getting it wrong, so I uploaded the photos into my editing software and created the desired artwork electronically, then printed it out.

Doing this takes the pressure off me so that I don’t have to spend my time and energy on getting the proportion right and fussing with the portrait itself. This frees me up to be able to focus on creating the desired textures and effects using mixed media. As with Albert, this was a many, many stepped process, far too many steps to go into in this one blog post; therefore what I’m giving you today is a brief fly-by of how some of this portrait work was created.

Image showing the prepared wood panel with the printed out elements adhered to the wood panel using TCW Matte Gel Medium.
I printed and fussy cut out the main elements for the composition and attached them with TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium.

Image showing Winnie's fur patterns added with Gloss Gel Medium and a coarse brush (to indicate hair growth directions). Black gesso was painted on the entire background to pull the piece together.
TCW 9006 Gel Medium Gloss and a coarse brush were used to indicate the fur growth patterns on Winnie.
The entire background was painted with TCW9002 Black Gesso.
Image showing the background stenciled with white modeling paste through TCW262 Gears stencil to create a cohesive, textured background.
TCW9004 Light and Fluffy Modeling Paste was applied with TCW9025 Plastic Palette Knife through TCW262 Gears stencil to create the background texture.

Next, I sprayed the stenciled gears with acrylic spray inks in a rainbow of colors, as shown in the following image.

The stenciled gears were sprayed with a combination of acrylic spray inks (some containing mica powder). This created the brightly-colored rainbow effect background (similar to that of Albert's Steampunk Dreams artwork).
The background stenciling was sprayed with a combination of regular and mica-added spray acrylic inks.

Now, I needed to create the Frizzy Dragon. Let me tell you, this one took some thought and experimentation, but I finally figured it out. I loaded the TCW9005 White Modeling Paste into a piping bag that was attached to a hand applicator. Using the piping bag, and the TCW9025 Plastic Palette Knife, I formed the base strands of the frizzy hair, as shown in the left image, below. Using the palette knife, I roughed up the hair to make it look more frizzy.

The real trick to this technique is not to apply the modeling paste too thickly, or else it will crack when it dries (you can touch it up a little, but not a lot). Another tip is to let the modeling paste dry fully and cure for a full 24 hours before proceeding. This allows the modeling paste to fully harden so that it can then be painted over, as shown in the right image, below.

Two close up images of the Frizzy Dragon. The left image shows the white modeling paste which has been piped onto the wood panel and left to dry. The right image shows the Frizzy Dragon fully painted and completed. A small hand cast resin dragon appears in the lower right corner of the image (to the right of the Frizzy Dragon).
Close up images showing the modeling paste to create the Frizzy Dragon at left, and the finished dragon at right.

Next came the small gold clock that sits on Cindy’s desk. I created this clock using the TCW9005 White Modeling Paste and the TCW9025 Plastic Palette Knife. Metal embellishment flowers were pushed into the wet modeling paste, then left to dry and cure for 24 hours. A metal clock charm formed the face of the clock. Once fully dried, the clock body was painted with two coats of TCW9003 Gold Gesso.

Close up image showing the hand formed gold clock with metal floral embellishments.
Close up image showing hand formed clock with metal embellishments, painted with TCW9003 Gold Gesso.
Close up image showing the cat's fur under layers using black modeling paste scratched with a needle tool.
Close up image showing the texture of the cat’s fur under layer using TCW9047 Black Modeling Paste.

Now for Winne’s body and face fur. The purpose of using the gloss gel medium with a coarse brush, as shown earlier, also served the purpose of showing some of the shine of Winnie’s fur. Using TCW9047 Black Modeling Paste and the TCW9025 Plastic Palette Knife, I lightly applied the modeling paste in small areas at a time (it dries fast in the summer time!), and used my needle tool to scratch each strand of hair into the modeling paste, as shown in the close up image, above.

For the areas containing fur highlights, I used TCW9008 Clear Modeling Paste, as shown in the image, below, on the cat’s right front leg and shoulder. This enables me to create more depth and texture in his fur.

Close up image showing the cat's right side completed with the modeling pastes, and scratched into with the needle tool to create the fur/hair texture and direction.
Fur highlights were added using TCW9008 Clear Modeling Paste as shown above on the cat’s right leg.
Close up image showing the completed face and body fur, now painted with acrylic paint to give it more depth, dimension, and to make it look more realistic.
Acrylic paint was added to Winnie’s body and face fur to make it more realistic.

Some finishing touches included adding single strands of embroidery thread for whiskers, and metal embellishments in the background consisting of gears, keys, and locks.

“Winnie” – 24″ x 24″ wood panel, mixed-media artwork

If you’d like to watch a process and fly-by video (1:16 seconds) of this pet portrait, please hop on over to my YouTube Channel @TealHareCreations.

Michaela Butterworth
The Crafter’s Workshop Design Team Member

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