I was asked to produce a very special painting for a client of a group of red deer.  The idea was to represent the generations of his family within the characters, so after many trips to the deer park I gathered lots of photo reference to work from.  I spent a long time going through the photos and choosing not only suitable poses, but suitable characters.  The main buck was simple, this guy stood out immediately as being the alpha male.  At Gosford Park there are about 10 adult males and several younger males so I spent time choosing deer of suitable ages.  The main buck is supposed to represent my client’s late father.  My client himself is the slightly younger buck to the left.  His three children are off to the right, a teenage daughter, a teenage son and a son in his early twenties.
Quite a brief to work to!  But a challenge I’ve enjoyed thoroughly, although I’ll not lie…I’m glad it’s done!!
Hope you enjoy the progress…

The finished painting 40″x 28″ Pastel on velour
Sketching out my composition.  I’ve used Photoshop to cut and
paste all my photos of the deer into my composition.  It took weeks
of tweaking at that before I’m happy to sketch it out, scale it up
and transfer it onto my giant piece of velour.  I don’t have
an easel this big so I just use some plywood and tape my
mounted velour on.


Working on the background.  You can see all
my lovely vibrant Unison pastels to the right.


The slow task of the top leaves begins.  The leaves
alone took me a week on and off.
I started my touring about during this painting.
Work will hopefully go on the road now and I figured if I
can work on a 40″ piece in this wagon, I can work on
anything!  We went to stay at Gosford so I could be close
to the deer I was painting.


This is the view in the back of the motorhome…perfect fit!
I brought lots of my pastels and I use little tote trays which
click together into a stack with a handle on top.  Perfect for keeping
them safe and accessible on the road.
The view out the side window down to the deer park.  It was
threatening to rain so I worked inside most of the time with
tea breaks down beside the deer for a good look and a chat 🙂


My studio/forest helper 😉



The first deer in the composition is completely in
shadow.  The main colours I’m using in this piece are
red and green with lots of warm oranges and yellows too.
I want it to look warm and Autumnal so I’m keeping
blue out of the equation.




The first deer pretty much done although I’m leaving all their
legs until the end so I can do the grass behind them first.
This was  during a sunny spell that I managed to get the piece down
to the deer.  There are times they are nowhere to be seen but
they were pretty interested in what I was doing!


Looking forward to getting the sunlit parts of the
main deer done as it will finally make sense of
the shadows on the first deer.



Back at home again and working on the three young deer.
A little view of the main colours I’m using.
Two shades of red, one for the shadow side and
one for the sunlit areas.  An array of oranges and
yellowy greens are through the fur too.
I’ve made sure to use the same palette for the background,
the big tree and the deer so the different parts
of the painting work in harmony.


You can see here how I begin with the darkest
areas and keep all my marks flowing in the direction
of their fur.


Going to come back to the last deer’s face when I get
the surrounding grass done.


Almost there now!  Creating some light and shade on the grass
and still using the same greens and reds I’ve used all along.


A close up of the scanned piece.  I managed to scan this in
in eight pieces on an A3 scanner and then joined them together on Photoshop.
Quite a task itself but it worked!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoyed watching this piece evolve.  I might work on some small things for a while just to recover!  Off to the framers now…poor John the framer! 🙂