Portraits in oil

Painting moments in time...

About me

Art from the heart

Tools of the trade
Tools of the trade

Standing on the shoulders of giants

I've enjoyed painting for over 35 years and, in that time, I've been able to develop my technique based on the great masters of oil painting. Masters, including Jan van Eyck who developed the technique of using coloured glazes over an monochromatic underpainting, have had a great influence on the way I use oil paint today. The process is a long one, requiring up to 20 glazes to be added to each painting with each glaze needing 12hrs to dry before the next can be applied. However, this all adds to the final effect, the colours glow and have a richness that is not achieved in any other way. My art has been exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London, for notable societies including Royal Society of Marine Artists and the Royal Society of British Artists.

Adhorable Jack Russells
Portrait in oil for Tim Wonnacott

Stars in their eyes

I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to paint portraits of three adhorable Jack Russells owned by antiques expert Tim Wonnacott. Tim, who features on well known BBC TV shows including Antiques Roadshow and Bargain Hunt, commented his painting:

Tim Wonnacott“...I have no hesitation in recommending Rob Tyrrell as a pet portrait painter. From a very ordinary amateur lined-up photograph of our three Jack Russell terriers, Grandmother Midge, Mother Lottie and Granddaughter Coco, he has created not only a lasting work of art in oils on canvas but brought a great source of amusement and pleasure into our family because they look so sweet. Well done!”

The painting process

From your photos to framing your portrait

Making a start on a portrait
Under painting

1. Sketch and underpainting

The painting process starts with your photos. Usually, one particular photo is used which shows the subject in a very familiar pose or setting. I can adapt the composition by changing the background, adding or subtracting elements in the photo or combining different pictures to create the final composition. Often, it is useful to have a selection of photos, ideally showing the subject from different angles. At this stage, I will advice what will work best based on the photos you send me. When the composition is decided, a drawing of the image is transferred to the support using the "squaring-up" technique.

Painting in progress
Painting at easel

2. Oil painting process

Once the composition is established and the preliminary underpainting has been completed, glazes are required to build up the colour in the picture. Each glaze is a mixture of Liquin oil medium and pigment and allows the lower layers to show through. This is continued over many layers whilst restablishing the light and shade where necessary until the final effect is achieved. Most paintings take on average 7 weeks to complete, however much is dependant on the complexity of the underpainting as well as the tone of the picture(darker pictures usually require more layers than lighter ones). Once I am satisfied, I'll send you a photo of the completed painting.

Framing your picture
Ornate guilt frame

3. Have your painting framed

Although optional, having your painting framed will add the finishing touch, and really show your picture off to it's best. Every portrait is unique and requires a sympathetic frame to compliment it, I can advice on what frame will best suit your portrait. There are many styles to choose from and I can offer frames in plain or coloured wood, with or without mounts plus bespoke ornate guilt swept frames. Use the contact form to get adivice and prices.

Something a little different

Portraits in line and wash

Visual puns
Watercolour portraits
Playful pets
Watercolour portraits
Watercolour portraits

For those who prefer something a little looser, I also offer portraits in ink and watercolour with a line and wash technique. These portraits are a little more like illustrations and are intended to exaggerate the character elements in the portrait, often combining other elements to enhance the message. If you're interested in having a portrait in line and wash, use the contact form to send me a few photos and a short description of your pets character, I'll have a look and get back to you with suggestions on possible options.

Get in Touch

If you want to order a painting or would just like a bit more info, please use the form below to get in touch.

Contact Details

  • Rob Tyrrell. Pet Portraits.
    44 Matlock Rd Caversham
    Reading, RG4 7BS