I am often asked about the difference between various kinds of art materials (aka media). Each has its own advantages and aesthetic appeal! I love working with a wide range and have put together some helpful information.  I hope this page helps to familiarize you with the various options that are available!  From Charcoals and Graphite pencils, to Watercolors, Oils and Acrylics, there is sure to be one that will capture your desired portrait in a way that will brighten up your home!  Please scroll down for information on comparisons and be sure to ask me any questions that you may have!  Thanks!

Charcoal: One of the oldest drawing materials known, Charcoals are rich deep black and can be blended to create variation in tone.  White Charcoal (actually chalk!) helps to add contrast and bring out highlights.  Charcoals look great on white, off white and pastel colored art papers and are known for capturing mood.  Charcoal paintings date as far back as ca.23,000 BC!

Happy & Jumper looking out window for bus card - Copy Stonecrest-horse.jpg daws-pauliecopyright Vaughan Peoples almost done

Graphite: Graphite, a name derived from the Ancient Greek word Graphein, is a mineral that leaves soft gray to near black marks on paper.  Graphite pencils are well suited for delicate sketching and drawing on white or off white artist’s papers.  Graphite drawings are neutral and classic. 

Odin Graphite Romaniello girls sketch_edited-1 - Copy daughter's cat Branch Ashely Rivers profile copyright

Oil: Oil paints are revered for their richness in color and for the depth that can be created through layering.   They take a long time to dry and are terrific for glazing colored layers in order to capture the sparkle in a pet’s eye. They are a slow drying paint consisting of pigment mixed with oil.    Oil Paintings were first used as early as the fifth century and gained widespread recognition in the 1500’s.

Oil Painting Jesse_edited-1 Irish Jack Russel Claudette's Girl Oil Final Molly copyright

Annie Verticle

Charcoal with Soft Pastel added.

Charcoal with Soft Pastel: Drawing with Charcoals and finishing with soft pastels is a technique made famous by Edgar Degas (1885) for his “Woman Bathing in Shallow Tub”.

Soft Pastels: Soft Pastels get their name from the French word, pastiche.  They are dry pigments bound together into either a stick or pencil form.  Soft Pastels have been used by artists since prehistoric times, and were made popular during the Renaissance. Their colors are rich and vibrant.

These are examples of Charcoal drawings that have A La Carte Soft Pastel added to them:

Lisa's house 195 Holmes

Pen & Ink under-drawing of a home.

Bootsie washing Frost

Pen & Ink drawing of “Bootsie washing Frost”. Copyright protected.

Pen & Ink: Pen&Ink lends itself to high detail and accuracy.  It makes a great under-drawing for watercolors, or as a drawing in and of itself.  Excellent for  home portraits, pet portraits, and  illustrations.

Below I have an example of a progression of a watercolor painting of two kitties  – from my initial pen & Ink to the laying of the washes.  Several layers of watercolors were added to develop the  fur and the subtle nuances of their unique coloring.

watercolor 195 holmes

The pen & ink under- drawing brings details to life in this watercolor painting.

Watercolor: Watercolor painting has been known by artists since ancient times and used for decorating illuminated manuscripts as well as maps.  In the early years, artists ground their own pigments and jealously guarded their studio recipes!

A fluid and unpredictable paint, Watercolors are created with water-soluble pigments typically suspended in a water based solution such as gum arabic.

Watercolors are bright and fluid and lend themselves to spontaneity.  They are dramatic painted over a pen&ink drawing and require great skill to manage as once applied, it cannot be removed.  Gouache, an opaque watercolor media, is used to create more body in the painting.

Artists have revered watercolors for their quick drying nature as well as portability for painting en plein air landscapes on their travels!


Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints are water-soluble, but become water-resistant when dry.

Here is my painting of Sydney, a gorgeous Portuguese water dog, at his favorite family beach.  The colors in this painting are vibrant and bring the peaceful tranquility of the ocean to the viewer.  I can almost hear the waves lapping against the beach as the wind blows in from over the water.  Any moment and Sydney will be racing the waves!

It was an important choice to have Sydney’s painting rendered with a water based media as it lends a salute to his heritage as a water dog!

What is the difference between a Sketch and a Drawing?

A  Sketch is a quick rendering with rough marks that often leave some details very vague while a Drawing is more fully developed with greater attention to mid-tone values to create depth.  Can you see the difference in the sketches and drawings below?  The sketches capture more spontaneous moments while the drawings capture a more refined elegance.  See these examples:

Thank you for taking a look at my Media Page!  If you would like to commission your pet’s portrait, please send me an email. I am looking forward to creating your masterpiece!

If you need to know more about how to commission a portrait and get an idea to the fees just click on the links.  Order today!

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