I was commissioned to paint two beautiful horses for two sisters and Ellie is the first of these.  I’ve been looking forward to their portraits as I loved the photo reference and hope that these will be really special to the two girls who’s horses are so loved by them.

While I’ve been painting Ellie we have been touring around Nothern Italy but the weather has been so terrible this past week I haven’t taken many photos!  On top of this Brocci my pooch has been unwell so it’s been a good excuse to paint the clock around and get some work done!  Who knew it could rain as much as Northern Ireland in Italy!

Hope you enjoy Ellie’s progress and a few snaps from the pretty town we are in.

Ellie Finished pastel portraitEllie’s finished portrait 16″x16″ soft pastel.

EllierefEllie’s photo reference taken from a full body shot of her in action.  I loved this head shot with her hair flowing and so much motion.  It seems to suit the description of Ellie sent to me by the girls’ father which made me think of Ellie as a free spirit.

Ellie1My first task is to sketch her out on my velour board.  I haven’t been too particular with her locks as I will be covering much of this area in the background colours as a base,

Ellie2I’ve started to block in the background and I’m using what was in the photo reference as the greens will really set Ellie’s colours off well.

Ellie3The background much further on now with lighter tones added and much blending.

Ellie4Beginning work at the top of the painting where I always start so that my hand has somewhere to rest and not smudge the piece as I work.  I start by blocking in the darks with my Faber Castell black stick.  I love this black to begin as it isn’t too soft and won’t fill the grain of the paper too soon.

Ellie5Adding some of the purples and blues next.  The sheen on Ellie’s coat has so many colours in that sunlight.

Ellie6Making good progress now with the darks re-strengthened and her eye in place.  It really starts to come alive when I get the eyes done.

Pic1aMy poor Brocci is beside me always when I work.  She has picked up a bacterial infection somewhere along our travels so she’s a bit under the weather on antibiotics this week.  Luckily I’m happy to stay indoors while the storms rage outside and work.

Pic2Finally the weather gives us a break and we get to explore Brisighella a very pretty town between Ravena and Florence where we are headed.

Pic1By the time the weather picks up Brocci is feeling much better and we take a walk up to the clock tower overlooking the town.  The town is known by it’s three hills, one with the clock tower where we are, another with the castle, and beyond that the church.  I do love the look of the Italian towns and villages!

Pic3Pic4We even met some American plein air artists who were here on a painting holiday.  As I write my blog I am where they were painting today making use of the town’s free wifi!  It was lovely to bump into them and I’m disappointed to not be able to take them up on their offer of painting with them tomorrow as we leave Brisighella bright and early.

Ellie7Back to work now and making progress down Ellie’s muzzle.

Ellie8Ellie9Her neck is mostly in shadow. I’ve used a combination of very light blues and lilacs and you can see I’ve saved the white for that sunlit area on her neck.  White animals are very deceiving as they are made up of anything but white!

Ellie11Beginning that flowing hair and I know it’s going to take patience to slowly work my way down her neck.

Ellie12I take a bit of a break from all the hair to finish off the bridle.  These details are really fun to do.  A steady hand and make sure no one is walking around the motorhome at the time is vital!  We really must invest in some stabalizers for the van!

Ellie13Ellie14Nearing the end and working on down that flowing mane.  I love the movement in this piece.  I hope you have enjoyed Ellie’s progress and a little of my Italian exploration.  Hopefully the weather will pick up a little for next week when I’m visiting Florence and all the art that it’s home to.  I’ll also be making a start soon on Teddy the second horse in this pair so please check back soon for his progress.