Murphy finished potraitMurphy’s finished portrait 12″x16″ soft pastel.

I was asked to paint a very special portrait as a brithday gift to someone who thinks the world of Murphy.  I love creating portraits of animals for the people who love them.  Hope you enjoy his progress and little of my travels while painting him in Italy.

Murphy1My initial line drawing on the velour and ready to paint.  It took quite a while to draw out the straps but it will save me time later in having those in place now.  As always I draw out on thin cartridge paper and transfer my sketch onto the velour as you can’t rub out on velour.  This gives me a chance to tweak the drawing some more in that process until I’m sure of the proportions.

Murphy2Working on the background and blocking in what will be a blurred or out of focus bokeh background.  I’m working from two different photos of Murphy which you can see onscreen.  One provides me with the basis for a nicer background.

Murphy3Murphy4Starting at the top and working my way down.  It always seems to be ears I work on first but this and the top of his head help me begin to choose what colours I will need for his dappled coat.

Murphy5The colour I’m holding here is a slither of a very light lilac. The photo reference shows him being hit by sunlight on one side which leaves more than half his face in shadow.  There will be no white used on that shadow side but many shades of light blue, peaches and lilac.

Murphy6You can begin to see how that light and shadow trick will work with the brightest white being saved for that sunlit area.  I’ve also started working around his eye and am pleased to see him looking back at me now!

Pic1This past week we have made it across the North of Italy to Venice.  It’s a city I’ve always wanted to explore and it doesn’t disappoint!  Maybe I will get around to creating a Venice themed painting from some of my photo reference.

Pic2I liked this pink haired girl sitting sketching by one of the many little bridges.  Everywhere you look is fit for a drawing or a painting.  We only had one day to look around so I left my own sketchbook in the van!

Pic3I did however try to capture a few of the lovely gondollas for a possible painting.  I liked how this boat is looming out towards us, it’s a pity everyone sitting in them had the phones in front of their faces!

Pic4In the palace square and one of the few big open spaces.  I love how colourful Italy is and in this shot how varied and colourful the people are.  People come from all over the world to see Venice.

Pic5First sighting of the big dome of Santa Maria della Salute.  Definitely going there for a look!

Pic7Inside the building there are many great works on display and it’s amazing to see them in situ where they were originally created for.  Here is a Titian.

Pic6Pic9I really could keep sharing Venice pictures!  There was just a photo opportunity everywhere you look!  But back to work the next day on Murphy so I better get back to my progress 🙂

Murphy7Continuing to work down his face.  I’m using some pastel pencil to really refine those horse hairs and I also used some pencil around his eye for the smallest detail.

Murphy8Murphy9Leaving out most of those straps until the end.  I did the top one across his forehead as this forelock came over it and I wanted to get that done while my hand had somewhere to lean.  For now though I’m just concentrating on his face.

Murphy10Murphy11I love horse’s noses, so soft and velvety and they actually feel a little like the paper I work on so it’s the perfect way to capture that look.

Murphy12That’s most of his face done barring a few tweaks.  I will finish down his chest area and then start work on those straps.

Pic10In between working we’ve made it down the coast a little to the first beach we’ve seen since May.  We have spent so much time inland we’d forgotten how lovely and fresh the sea air is!

Pic11No to mention the fantastic sunsets you experience when you’re near water.

Pic12The slither of land we are on is called Isola Albarella.  If you look it up on map you can see we are totally surrounded by water on both sides and it’s just a small road leading out onto these almost islands.  Here’s Brocci doing some bird watching.  There is so much life here, insects (not so good!) lizards, many bird species, and we even pick up a mouse or two.  Thankfully they jumped off when the van started but I suspect that won’t be the last of our mouse encounters!Pic13We stay at the first beach a few days and then move onto Goro where we can park at the harbour.  This is where I get the last day’s work done on Murphy while these fishermen sit outside my window all day.

Murphy13Using the pastel pencil now to outline the halter.  Then I use many shades of blues and browns for the highlights on the shiny leather.

Murphy14You can see a little area I’ve finished here and I have a long way to go.  The straps alone take me most of the afternoon before I do some final tweaks overall.

Pic14We are treated to a beautiful sunset in the evening and it always feels good to have finished a painting and be able to sit down and enjoy this.

Pic15Here is where we are parked right next to the harbour and although it’s a peaceful evening I’m betting that the fishermen will be noisy come dawn!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my progress on Murphy.  Here is a little close up of his face showing the detail in his halter as well as the texture of his hair.

MurphycloseupClose up showing detail

If you have a portrait in mind have a look on my website in the pricing tab or get in touch at  Many thanks for visiting my blog!