Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy the progression of Mala a very beautiful Golden Retriever.  I was asked to paint this portrait and after looking through many great photos of Mala, the best pose was a grayscale photo. There was however another photograph very similar showing the colours. I decided that it might be possible to transform the grayscale photo into colour, and that’s what I’ve been working on this week.
Mala’s finished portrait, soft pastel, 18″ x 14″

Here you can see my two photo references which I have on screen at all times. I get my line drawing of the pose on the left done and then start the colour work.

Even in the colour photo the sky is pretty grey which is typical of Ireland. Somehow I think Ireland looks lovely with grey clouds though, it must be all the green. And there is plenty of green in this portrait, so I kept the muted grey tone of the sky.

As I look for the colours in the photo reference, I take note of which areas are in shadow and what those colours are in the colour photo. I know that the brightest parts of Mala where the sun is hitting are white. But the rest is tricky as there are no real dark tones in her fur. It’s all very subtle shading. But using what I know about colour theory, and because the photos are quite similar, it wasn’t as bad as expected.

Using smaller shards of soft pastel to create the soft flyaway hairs around the edges. I still haven’t worked the background at this stage. Not quite sure yet how detailed to go with that, so I’ve blocked in the main colour and got going on Mala.

At this stage I come back and work some of the distant background. I love the tall grasses and how they disappear off into the distance. There are also a lot of tall grasses around Mala in the foreground to deal with later. But at this stage I keep it pretty loose.

Working on down Mala’s coat. I’m aware that some of this will be obscurred by the grasses so in those areas I do a bit less detail in the coat. It means my grass will go on cleaner later on as I won’t have already filled the tooth of the paper.

Almost there at this stage and starting to pick out which tall grasses to include. I do a lot of editing and simplifying at this stage. I don’t add any of the grasses that interfere with Mala’s face and try to choose a nice random collection of them to cut through her coat.

The finished piece outside the van in the South of Spain. I thought it was funny to show how different the grass here is this time of the year while Ireland remains lush. Although I love the heat, I’ve got to say this past month has been wickedly hot and pretty difficult to keep up with work in the motorhome. There is a lot to be said for the cool Spanish houses in this climate!

After saying how hot it is I’m going to share some woolly blankets with you! Bit by bit I have received these beautiful crothet blankets from my sister who makes them. All three pups got their own blankets this week and I thought you’d like to see them. We will enoy them come Winter!

Thanks for visiting. If you’re interested in learning how to pastel from me, visit my Youtube or Patreon channels for lots of tutorials and helpful videos.