Tortie – A Work in Progress – Painting

I’ve been commission to do a painting of a tortoise.  Actually of a specific tortoise called Tortie. He’s quite a character apparently and always looks very determined.

Capturing the right expression in my initial sketches and computer mock ups for the client was quite tricky.  At first he looked very happy, then he became rather too grumpy, until I got just the right note of determination.

Now I’ve made a start on the canvas itself.

This is going to be the largest canvas I’ve done in this series of animals and other characters.  At 60cm square it’s quite a lot larger than the work I have been doing.

I thought it might be interesting to share the photos of the work in progress (WIP) as I go along.

If you want you can see them in a slideshow on Flickr

Here’s the WIP photos from the first few days of work:

tortie WIP 2 completed sketch

tortie WIP 4 - outline completed

He’s starting to take shape but there’s a lot more to do.

I’m using acrylic paint with a mixture of techniques including using glazes.  I’m also trying out a different approach to the outline marks in this painting. Usually I ink in the lines on the canvas, then paint the whole work, then res-establish the lines with paint.

This time I painted the lines first and had thought I would be very careful not to paint colour and glazes over the lines.  But that doesn’t suit how I work.  So I will at a later stage have to do some touching up on some of those lines.

It took a lot longer to paint lines than draw in ink but did mean I could start working on colour straight away.  The ink needs 24 hours to dry properly before painting. Also it seems to be standing out better with the glazing than inked lines do.

It’s a bit nerve wracking sharing your early ugly stages and your mistakes before they can get corrected.

But it’s also an interesting learning experience for me.  I captured my previous painting “Lovestruck” on video and stills (to be shown at a later date once the client has given it to the intended recipient!).  I saw some things which could be refined in the process I go through and I am starting to spot patterns already.

It’s also reassuring that something can start out looking really messy and ugly but come good in the end.  So no need to panic early on!

I’ll post more pictures as I go along and hope the client likes what they see :o)


  1. Rachel, showing a work “in progress”, warts and all, takes courage (and confidence).

    As to the tortoise and its determination: It’s one hell of a burden to carry the roof over your head wherever you go. How old is Tortie?


  2. Brave and really interesting. Love the tortoise and the fact that you seem to be developing a real career out of yoru art. All the hard work is paying off ;0) Yeh!

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