My next red stag piece and I knew I had to call it this recently when that Neil Young tune came on the radio.  It made me go home and search out the most golden sunlit stag reference I had to create this.  Hope you enjoy his progress.


The finished painting ‘Hart of Gold’ 19″x19″ pastel on velour


 This is my reference photo which was plucked from a larger photo you can see below.  Sometimes in the large groups there are individuals worth picking out although I do love the composition of the big group of deer too.  Maybe that could be a giant painting some day!
This is Gosford park where I’ve spent a lot of time this year.  This was the only time I was allowed into the enclosure and the closest I got to the herd.

I’m cosy beside the fire having chosen the stag reference to use and I’m sketching out the deer here using a mechanical pencil and normal cartridge paper.  I’m drawing him to scale to work on my 19″ square.

This is my sketch transferred onto the light yellow paper.  I simply cover the back of my pencil sketch with black pastel, rub it all over the back and blow any excess pastel dust away.  Then I tape it over the velour board and go over my lines with a pencil or a biro.  It leaves a faint line and I go back over this with a pastel pencil and at this stage I can tweak the drawing a little if there are any changes to be made.

Starting to block in the main areas of the background.  I’m using the same palette of about 20 colours I used in the previous two Wintery stag paintings.  While they all look different I do want the colours to work together as well.

Building up the mid to light tones gradually creating the light and shadow.

A bit more detail worked over the background but leaving it as loose as possible.  I continually blend and blur the background softening the effect as much as possible.

Working my way down the stag’s head.  It is the same palette as the background.

I try to make every edge of the deer, either light or shadow, have an area of complimentary colour behind it.   If the background is a good contrast in colour to the deer he will really stand out.
I was invited to do a demo at Carrickfergus art club and this is the stage at which I bring him.

Sometimes it’s nice to have something in progress for a demo.  I try to bring paintings along at different stages each time to show what is quite a long process of many hours.

I’ve managed to get a good covering of his body showing how I layer up very small marks to create a deep looking fur coat.  I’ve left myself about one more day’s work finishing off the coat and his legs.

Close up detail