I was asked to paint this beautiful scene from quite a few years ago as a gift from a son to his mum.  I was provided with photo reference from which I took a nice square crop to create this composition.  Although there was a little graininess to the photo because of it’s age, I knew there was enough detail to get a good likeness of them both.
I hope you enjoy their progress and a little of my travels from Almeria in the South of Spain where we are now.

The finished painting which I’ve called ‘Motherly Love’ 16″ x 16″ soft pastel.

My photo reference next to my line drawing on the velour board ready to paint.  I’m just blocking in the background at this stage and I’m hoping to make it a little abstracted and not bother with the bricks on the wall.  I just want to create a nice gradient of colour here to set them off.

As with everything I tend to work from the background to the foreground so that certain areas will overlap and sit cleanly on top of the sections below.  On a piece like this with so many small areas of detail, I will spend many hours on each individual section building up the tone and colour followed by any smaller details.

Even on the sun lounger it’s a case of working the background colour first followed by the leaves and flowers as they sit on top.

I start to work the mum’s figure and it takes me a while to get the palette right so that the colours all work nicely together.  You can see from the photo reference that I’ve chosen a slightly different palette of pinks just to have some harmony between them and the skintones in the painting.

The faces are both quite small within the image so it takes very small piece of pastel making very small marks to create the features.  I also use a little pastel pencil and my paper tortillon tool to push the pastel into place.  At this stage I’m just trying to mark in the main structure using the darker tones.

Once I bring in some highlights where the light catches her nose, cheekbone and chin it starts to have real form.

We have been in Almeria for a couple of weeks now and it’s partly because we’ve managed to get a parking spot right on the beach front.  There are cafes and shops close by, but best of all our view every day is of the beach.  The first few days here saw gale force winds though, but it did mean we had some kite surfers to watch.

The wind also produced amazing waves which reminded me a lot of the North coast of Ireland, although without the cold and rain!

This is the van completely covered in a layer of sand after a particularly windy night.  We got up to this and had to wash the whole van.  I can’t say we got much sleep either with the van behaving like a boat on wild waters!

This is our view from the van with Brocci doing some dashboard sunbathing.

After a difficult day of working in a windy van the next days is clear and calm and I can start the detail on the little boy.  It takes a steady hand to work on small detail.  He has such a lovely expression on his face looking at this big book and I try to hint at this without needing too much detail.

Making good progress now and I block in the big book’s pages to have the background in before adding some bright colours for the pictures.

I’m nearing the end now with the bottom sections done just leaving mum’s hands and his toes to do.  The last thing I’ll work on is the bright pictures in the book.  I’d like those to be loose but recogniseable.  I have many books from this age which I remember clearly.  I have great memories of having a story read to me and I think it’s an important part of a lot of childhoods.  It’s one of the reasons I loved this image when I first saw it.  I think it really captures a special moment between mum and son.

This is the bay in Almeria.  As the weather has been so good all week I’ve had a lovely routine of working in between beach walks.  Brocci approves!

One of the last areas to go on are his little toes.  With very little detail I’m just using the light and shadow to describe their form.

Lastly that colourful book.  I can see little boats quite clearly so I depict those in the lovely primary colours and use the white of the page to neaten around their edges a little.  The back page is in shadow and therefore won’t be as detailed, and thank goodness as there are lots of characters on it.  I will simplify and hopefully create the effect.

Working on a detailed piece like this really gives me a lot of joy.  While it may seem a tedious thing to sit for four hours on a square inch of a painting, I find the time really flies!

I’ll leave you with a couple of sunset pictures from the week.  Don’t palm trees make a place look like paradise!  I had to drop pastels and run outside with the camera on this evening as the sky just burned with colour.

It’s hard to beat a dramatic sunset!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my progress on this one.  Thanks for visiting and call back soon for more arty travels.