I was asked to paint this beautiful image as a gift and it’s always a pleasure to get a beautiful photo reference to work from.  I made some adjustments to the reference to find a better composition but I knew the setting would make a beautiful portrait backdrop.

We also got our new exhaust this week so we’re back on the move.  Hope you enjoy some of my snaps from Seville too!

Juno’s finished portrait 16″x16″ soft pastel

This is the photo I was given to work from.  I’ve simplified the foreground a little and brought Juno up in the scene to make her more central.

I work on a special pastel paper called velour and one thing I always recommend to artists trying it out is to do your initial line drawing on another thin sheet of paper and transfer it on.  I thought I’d show you more of those first stages here too.  What you see here is me going over the lines of my drawing which is on thin cartridge paper.

I’ve covered the back of the cartridge paper in black soft pastel and rubbed it well in so not too much transfers to the velour.  You can see the faint outline this leaves me on the velour.

I then strenthen the line drawing a little with a pastel pencil before I start to block in colour.

Starting work on this complicated sky.  I love how the clouds go off into the distance at the horizon but at the minute I’m focusing on building up the shapes of the larger clouds.

Using lots of lilac shades in the clouds.  It makes it warmer and more interesting than a cold grey.  Try to avoid using grey as technically it’s not a colour.  Instead find a dusky blue or another colour that adds more interest and doesn’t flatten your work.

Starting to block in the mountain range.  Always make the distant hills lighter in tone and build up contrast as you come forward in the planes of field.

This week we finally left Tarifa and headed towards Seville.  With our new exhaust fitted we’re back on the road.  Here is a little shot of Freda our motorhome parked at the end of the pier in Puerto Gelves en route to Seville.

We got so lucky at this spot with our parking spot right at the end and this view down the river.

Working on the land and water blocking in the darks first.  While I put the little houses on the hillsides I don’t worry too much with tiny detail.  The more I can simplify the backdrop the more our focus will be drawn to Juno first.

I start to block in the sand all around Juno.  Her shadow made such a lovely outline on the sand I just had to include all of it.  I’ve used a Grey 8 Unison pastel for the shadow.  Try to use opposite colours when painting shadows.  So because the sand is yellowy I use a purple tone as the shadow.  Try looking at shadows you see and notice the colours your eye can see as sometimes photos flatten the colour that your eye can pick up in person.  By knowing this though you can improve upon a good photo to make a great painting!

We finally made it to Seville for a day to look around.  It’s a really pretty city, hot and full of people!  Good for a day to explore, but I’m always glad to retreat from cities to open space again.

Some of the narrowest streets are a tight squeeze in the crowds!

Some of the parks are beautiful surrounding the city.  Parakeets squawking from the palm trees and people lazing around in the sun.

Starting work on Juno now and again I work from top to bottom. Because of her scale, detail is fiddly.  There isn’t a lot of texture visible on the whitest sunlit areas of her coat but by adding some texture into the darker areas it gives the impression.

I use pastel pencils for her eyes which are really small.  I think I’ve caught her expression so I won’t overwork any more as it can easily go wrong on such a small scale!

Really making progress now and she’s beginning to take some form as I work down her legs to the sunken sand at her paws.

A little picture of myself and the piece to show it’s scale and colours in daylight.  I always scan my work but I like to take a photo on location too now as they look a little different in the photo.  There is never any comparison to how they look in person, as with all pastels.  The way a pastel reflects light and has real depth to it in person is why I love this medium!  That and about a million other reasons!

Thanks so much for visiting.  Please check back soon for more work in progress.  If you’d like some more info on commissioning a painting please visit http://www.emmacolbertart.com/art-portraits-pricing/