This piece was commissioned and my brief was to create a red stag in an Autumn setting.  I have many reference photos of stags in all seasons so I started by searching through all my photos trying to piece together a composition.  I hope you enjoy my progress on this as well as some of my travels from Spain over the Christmas period while I was working on him.

The Autumn StagThe finished painting 27″x18″ soft pastel

progress1As always I start my work by creating a line drawing which can be transferred onto the pastel paper.  My line drawings look a little clinical but I really just want a strong line to begin with, then the colour creates the form and tone.

progress2After I have my line drawing transferred onto the velour I sketch in the background loosely and begin to block in the trees in the distance behind him.

progress3These blurry backgrounds create great distance in a painting.  I build them up gradually using many layers and blending each layer into the one below.

progress4Slowly the depth in the background builds up.  The more layers I put down, the easier it becomes to blend them and move them around.

progress5Starting to block in the tree in the foreground.  I don’t normally work foregrounds this early on but I wanted to get this dark area blocked in as it really frames the deer.

pic1Parked up in a small town called El Catllar.  We stop here for just one night as we head South from Barcelona towards Valencia.  I just couldn’t help snap this big building in the evening sun.

pic2pic3Our next stop is at a lagoon close to Amposta. We spend a few days here while I work on the stag.

pic4progress6Starting work on the main focus of the painting now.  I usually start at the top and work my way down.

progress7Showing an early stage of the stag’s face.  I use very small shards of pastel and some pastel pencil to create the smallest details.

progress8progress9I’ve also used many of the colours from the background in the stag’s coat.  I want this piece to have no blue or purple in it, but base it around Autumn warm colours.  Green and red become my main contrast with rich yellows and orange.

progress10Making progress on his body, making very small marks for his coat.


pic7We arrive at a campsite where we plan to stay a while over Christmas.  We have moved around so much since May, we decide to take a little break and relax here.  The sun beams all over the Christmas week making it so different from Christmas in Ireland.

pic5On Christmas Eve in the park, the owners come around singing and dancing covered in lights.  The festive spirit was out in force on the campsite!

progress12Although I take a few days off over Christmas, I enjoy a little painting in the sun on Boxing day.  It was so warm!

progress13Here I’ve begun work on the leaves across the top of the painting.  I am working from a few different photos for this, trying to create a pleasant shape to frame my deer.

progress14Making good progress with those leaves and it’s starting to look how I imagined it would.

progress15I’ve also blocked in the foreground.  The area under the trees is in shadow and creates a nice peep hole through which to see the stag.  The immediate foreground is out of the shade and a little blurred.

pic6I’ll leave you with one last photo from the Christmas period.  Brocci with all her current toys who look a little worse for wear! 🙂

autumnstagcloseA little close up detail from my Autumn Stag.  Hope you’ve enjoyed his progress.  This is my last painting of 2016.  I look forward to producing many works in 2017 and sharing them with you here.  Happy New Year!