I went to photograph Misty for her portrait and was met with extreme excitment and the pure joy of a young friendly dog.  I love huskys, they are so lively and bouncy, especially when they are young like Misty.

With the help of her young human who she behaved so well for we managed to get some great shots of her on this sofa where she often sits next the door.  Hope you enjoy her progress and some of our travels as we enter into France this month.

Misty's finished portraitMisty’s finished portrait 18″x14″ soft pastel

misty referenceThese were the two main reference shots I used for the portrait.  I loved her pose with those dangling paws but the family wanted her to be looking directly out from the portrait.  It was simple enough to use both images to work from as the photos were taken in the same lighting and position.

misty1Here I have sketched her out on my yellow velour and am ready to start the pastel work.

misty2Starting with the background and the leather sofa surrounding Misty.  Although the sofa isn’t shown in the photos as we forgot to remove the covers for the shots in all the excitement, I was later sent some shots of the sofa so I was able to paint it this way.  You can see from this that my first layer is using the black to block in the darkest areas in the creases.  After that there are many shades of blues and some orange for the reflections.

misty3The brightest highlights are a light yellowy white which give that extra bit of shine to the leather effect.

pic1This week we leave the beautiful Italian Riviera and enter France.  I’m yet to do my blogs on the Italian side of the Riviera as I’ve been working on some secret Christmas commissions so this part of the journey will be posted then.   We enter France close to Menton and visit the pretty town where this shot was taken.

pic2Nice was next on our to-do list and we managed to visit here while the big moon was on show.

pic3pic4After a couple of days exploring Nice and getting some work done where we parked up, we headed on round the coast through Cannes where we stopped to watch the kite surfers.

misty4Back to work again and the wall behind Misty adds a nice bit of warmth to the portrait which will also match her lovely brown/orange eye colour.  I haven’t bothered with too much detail on the bricks as being part of the background, they should not distract from her too much.  Instead the sharpest detail will be saved for her.

misty5Starting at the top of her and working my way down as I usually do.  The darkness behind her should really help her light colours stand out.  I spend a long time deciding on the colours for her fur and slowly start to build up the texture on the top of her head.

misty6One eye is looking at me now.  She has lovely warm colour in her eyes so I use specks of orange over the browns to make them glint in the light.

pic11We travel to a small farm in Bagnol-en-Florêt where we stay a couple of days.  We met some other travellers from The Netherlands and France.

pic5The view from the farm of the town was beautiful so I set up the camera tripod one evening and waited for the supermoon which rose over the town.  This was one of the shots I loved and may well have a go at painting some time!

pic6After a long wait, the moon finally rose.  I’m no pro photographer but this was my best shot from the evening after much arguing with camera settings!

pic10After leaving the farm we visited Fréjus where an artist friend lives.  Jacqueline Clarrise a fellow pastel painter and animal lover showed us her home, workspace and introduced us to her lovely whippet Finn.  It’s so good to put some real faces to Facebook friends!

misty7Back to work on Misty and making more progress on her face with both eyes in.  I use some black pastel pencil for the finest lines around the eyes and will make use of it for other areas like nostrils.

misty8That pink tongue was out in almost every photograph and I think it shows her enthusiasm and excitable nature.

misty9Saving all the pure white for the left side as we look at her where the light is hitting her.  I use many off whites in blue, lilac and yellow for her shadow side.  White dogs are tricky as there are so many other colours reflected in their coat meaning very little is actually white.

pic7A little further along the coast we visit Arles where Van Gogh lived for 15 months painting furiously.  Brocci and I are sitting in front of the actual cafe which features in one of his best known paintings ‘The Night Café’.  It’s pretty cool to stand where he must have stood making the decision to put this place down on canvas in paint.  I am such a big fan of his work, maybe some day I’ll see the original painting in person.  I’ve seen lots of his original work in The Netherlands and many other museums but this one is in the US.

pic8The pretty streets in Arles.

pic9This Van Gogh piece ‘Undergrowth’ was on display in the Van Gogh museum in town.  There was another display on at the time I visited but it was great to see this piece up close.  It was painted at a time when his mental state was very unstable and perhaps the chaotic marks are a hint to his struggles.

misty10Working on down the body of Misty and now it is autopilot as the colours for the light and shadow side have been decided.

misty11You can see some of the colours I use on the lower layers.  I like to pick out the brightest area early on as I have done with this second paw.  It helps me to see where the brighest area is in relation to the darkest.

Misty's finished portraitPutting the final mark on the painting…my signature!

Hope you have enjoyed my post on Misty and our first adventures in France.  If you are interested in a portrait of your own have a look on my website in the ‘Pricing’ tab for more info or get in touch with me at info@emmacolbertart.com.

If you have left it too late to consider a portrait for this Christmas you can still order a gift voucher.  You can gift the experience of being involved in this process as well as the finished painting giving the recipient the chance to choose their photos and watch it progress.  Get in touch for more details.