Hi folks, I’ve been terribly quiet here on my poor neglected blog since after Christmas. I promise to get back in the flow of sharing my progress here again. I’ve been busy setting up a Patreon channel to create video tutorials. It’s a step further than my Youtube channel in that I’m doing hour long lessons and filming almost everything I work on. If you’re interested in learning more about my pastel techniques check it out at www.patreon.com/emmacolbertart.

This week I’ve been working on Alfie the terrier and it makes a change from my usual out of focus backgrounds to paint a whole scene like this totally in focus. I loved the shot my client sent through and after cropping and making a couple of small alterations it was the perfect picture to work from. I hope you enjoy Alfie’s progress and a little of our time in Tarifa

            Alfie’s finished portrait, soft pastel 20″x14″

Here is the photo I was sent. I immediately loved Alfie’s pose and the way the bright light made everything glow red and orange. You can see in my line drawing I altered the perspective a little and cropped the image at the top and bottom.

We are taking a break from motorhoming at the minute in the town of Tarifa, South of Spain. It’s a treat to have a base for a few months and be able to leave my easel set up each night I finish work. This is my current work area with a shoe rack doing a great job of holding my pastel trays!

I begin with the areas furtherest away. So the window frame is where I focus on first. I’ll likely do the whole background before tackling the dog.

I was filming this piece until about here when I decided to abandon so unfortunately there won’t be a tutorial on this. There was just so much to fit in and I was sitting in such weird positions to get all those vertical and horizontal lines nice and smooth. It just seemed impossible to worry about a camera’s position too!

So with the camera turned off I sped through the rest of the background. I use lots of vibrant oranges and reds as a sort of wash over everthing giving it the reflected glow from the curtains. You just about get a hint of those curtains at the edges of the painting.

Background almost finished and I’ve been making use of every tiny shard of pastel I have. People often ask why I don’t use pastel pencils more. I do use them, but it’s mostly to shape the soft pastel I’ve already applied. I don’t like building up so many small marks with a sharp pencil and the soft pastel gives you such vibrance and strength of colour. Plus I love to play with these broken bits of colour…a tactile medium for people who like messy hands 🙂

This week in Tarifa we decided to explore some of our surrounding area. We’ve been toying with the idea of rock climbing or bouldering which is popular round here so we went to check out a popular spot in the hills overlooking Tarifa.

The boulders seem good although Hairy Maclary isn’t so sure Andrew is safe up there!

Most of Tarifa is set in areas of National Park so a lot of it is really stunning. We will have to get out on more walks and collect more reference pictures, especially of the animals. One of the rewards on Patreon I’m offering is royalty free photos to work from along with their line drawings and gridded version. Great if you can’t get out and about to take your own photos, or just want to start in and practise.

I finally get to Alfie and his face has been a slight worry due to it’s scale. I really wanted to capture a likeness but I know if I mess up his eyes on the first go, it will be hard to make it right. I use the smallest shards of pastel with good broken edges. But it’s not too important how neatly I put on the marks. They can be neatened using the pencils.

Alfie’s eyes in and I’m happy that with a very sharp black pastel pencil and some pointy piece of brown and highlight pieces of pastel, I managed to get some of his expression in there.

Working on down his body and using those same reds to reflect his surroundings.

Almost there! Final bits of detail with the pencils and add some more dabs of red around the painting.

Then it’s time for the signature 🙂

Hope you enjoyed Alfie’s progress. I love to get a different challenge to work on and this piece was just that! Leaving you with a shot I took on Valentine’s day of the two lovebirds! Lady and the Tramp eh!

If you’re interested in a portrait of your own check out my price list for more information here

Don’t forget if you’d like to learn more of my pastel techniques through real time video tutorials check out my Youtube or my Patreon.

Don’t forget if you’d like to learn more about my pastel techniques through videos check out my Youtube