Hart of the ForestMy finished painting 19″x19″ soft pastel

DeerrunningThis was the reference photo I used for the stag.  You can see him dead centre and I really love this shot and would love to do a giant 40″ piece with the other deer in it too.  Definitely on my to-do list so I’ll treat this painting like a practise run for the main stag and he will be so much easier to do on a larger scale next time round.

As it is Spring time I want to create the next in my stag series as I have worked on both Winter and Summer themes so far.  It seems about time I tried a Spring one.  I particularly love bluebells and you do get them deep in the woods at Gosford.  I could really imagine this deer running through the forest as the big males tend to spend some alone time in there and I’ve often caught glimpses of one between the trees.  Hope you enjoy his progress.  I was in Gosford for a few days while painting this and worked on the early parts of the background while in the motorhome in the forest.  I’ve shared some of these photos too to give you a sense of the place.

20160405_134512My line drawing on the yellow velour, I’m ready to start blocking in some background.

20160405_170050This is my view out the back of the motorhome. It had turned wet this day after a lovely morning so I decided it was a good time to get some indoor work done.  You can see my setup in the back is pretty good as the u-shaped lounge provides me lots of surfaces for laying my trays of pastels.  These trays click together and store away in the cupboards above.  Quite a great and spacious studio with an ever changing view!

20160407_175546I’m being very loose with the background as I really want the thin plane on which the deer is to be all that’s in focus.  I’m just blocking in some of the darker greens in the leaves and will layer up with nice vibrant shades.

IMG_1810 IMG_1784A couple of shots from the deer park.  Brocci and I went out a few times for a ramble with the camera.  There weren’t many stags with antlers as they shed them this time of year.  The older males tend to loose theirs first as they have the heaviest.  This younger stag who still had his antlers and had probably been a bit bullied before, was taking advantage of the defenseless elders!

20160407_19390120160407_20415520160408_160338The first part I usually work on is the antlers.  They take me a long time as they are so narrow.  Lots of sharp pieces of pastel get used.

20160408_174604Using warm oranges to make the deer really jump out against the violet blues and purple in the forest floor.  I want a shaft of light to be really catching the deer as he runs past us.  If I can make everything else blur around him as he moves hopefully it will put us in that moment with the stag.

20160408_19332020160408_201626Building up his coat using much of the same palette as the background but adding more shades of orange.  I will also use a lot more of the green and violets on his underside as he might reflect a bit of the ground below.


Dotting lots of colour through his coat.  This is built up using many layers.


Starting to work the foreground.  I don’t want it to be too distracting so I’m being quite loose with it.  I want the light to be coming along just in front of him and the foreground to be blurred so it encloses him in the motion.


20160410_15552520160411_131935a‘Hart of the Forest’ in it’s frame.  The outer dimensions including the frame are 27″x27″.  I love using this big chunky frame as it just sets off the colour of the piece.  Hope you enjoyed the journey of this piece.  He is currently available, if you would like details please e mail me at info@emmacolbertart.com.