The next in my red deer series which I started the week before Valentine’s day.  I thought it an appropriate time to do this one I’ve been thinking about.  The first stag I did in this series with a similar background called ‘Heart to Hart’ had some accidental hearts in the backdrop.  I liked them so much I went back and enhanced them a little more and there were two hearts discretely hidden.  I’ve included a few more in this piece, see if you can find them.

The finished painting ‘Love Hart’ 19″x19″


My line drawing transferred onto the orangey yellow velour.  I’m loving this square series as I can literally just plonk the main man in the middle and come up with some lively backdrops.  The photo reference was tweaked for this piece as I loved the head from one shot and the body from another but neither image was perfect on it’s own.  This is the same stag I used in ‘Heart to Hart’ and he was perhaps the most handsome in the park at that time.

The beginnings of the colourful out of focus background.  I took some photos of a lovely purple leafed bush with sunlight pouring down through the leaves. The out of focus effect using the camera has inspired these backgrounds and given me a starting point from where I can make up the rest.

After roughly blocking in the darks and the general placement of all the shapes I am now bringing in some of the colour.  Working at different weights to create some hexagons that are vibrant and solid, and some that are more distant and faded.

It’s a slow process and I spend a lot of time thinking about where to place them.  I want them to create a camouflage of colour for the deer, but also make him pop out of the page.  So I plan each edge of the deer carefully making sure there is darkness behind his highlighted areas and vice versa.

Working my way down the background.  Many layers and each layer really well rubbed into the velour otherwise it will want to fall off.  Loose layers are not good on velour, especially with the softer pastel.  The key is to rub each layer in well before applying more.


Starting work on the deer now and I love painting antlers.  They are fiddly but I can come back around those lines from the other side and clean up areas of the background to create even more contrast.  I am using all the colours in the background in the deer.


The face almost done.  I’ve used a small amount of pastel pencil for the eyes and nose area but apart from that it’s all the big chunky pastels.  They end up having chunks out of them, and pointy ends so there is always a sharp edge when you need it.

At this stage I bring the piece to a demo evening in Banbridge Art club.  Many thanks to them for coming along and watching his body slowly appear over the space of two hours.

Amost there now, working over his whole coat and legs adding more and more depth.

Hope you enjoyed his progress.  There will soon be a limited edition print of this available.  The original is coming with me to the final of Artists and Illustrators ‘Artist of the Year’ competition in London next week.  I thought I better get some original work to bring with me as the big piece I entered is not for sale.  Hopefully there will be some interest in my work when I’m there 🙂
If you haven’t already voted for ‘The Family Tree’ in the competition please take a second and go vote at



LoveHartFramed‘Love Hart’ framed.  Outer frame dimensions 27″x27″