Female portrait

Painting a female portrait in pastel

I've transferred my sketch onto the white coloured velour.

Working in the background first as always.  All subtle tones used so that the focus is on the subject.

Starting on the skin tones I try to lay down good base colours which will shine through the layers.

Trying to define the dark areas and the cooler skin tones.

I've added lighter shades to the skin and blended.  Also added some detail to important features.

Blended the skin tones a lot more and added the hair with the highlights from that window light.


The finished portrait of two collies...

Starting with my line drawing on the white coloured velour and the background is the first thing I'll block in.

Nice close up of how tiny some of my pastel pieces are.  These 'crumbs' are vital for getting small details.  I use some pastel pencils and smaller types of pastel but there's nothing like the really soft Unison for strength of colour.

It's always a relief to get the eyes done and know that they look like the character you're painting.  9 times out of 10 the emotion comes through the eyes.


Starting work on the his pal on the right tomorrow so check back in :-)

Onto his pal...
I always start on the top left ear and work my way down and across.  Because I've got my background in first I can drag these small hairs out and really make them stand out against the orange background.

I like to get both eyes done around the same time just to make sure they line up!  Also means when I do the hair on the nose this will sit in front of the hair on the cheeks.  Although I work left to right, background to foreground comes before that.

Almost there and here is how I feather those edges by dragging the colour out using a sharpened pastel pencil.  Most of the colours on these white fronted dogs were anything but white.  Shades of light blue, green, creams and even light pinks and oranges to reflect some of the background colours.

Street Spirits

Painting progress of 'Street Spirits' 20"x16"
Photo reference kindly permitted by Jamie Hall www.jamiehallphotography.co.uk

Started on the background as always

Treating the top half like a painting on it's own and working in the foxes from left to right.

Pastel is all about building up layers of colour from dark to light.  I work across the fur gradually building up depth by adding the lighter values as I go.

Now I've blocked in that bottom half background.  Pretty much the same order I do the top half in.

Ah the rubbish...it's the theme of this painting that I love.  The beauty of the wild next the ugliness of the urban.

The reflections are pretty much just a slightly looser version of what I've done on the top half I'm on the homeward stretch at this stage.

Painting Bentley's Portrait

This is Bentley the extremely cute dachshund.  I've used velour pastel paper with a selection of soft pastels.  The finished piece is 14"x18" and worked from reference photos which I took of him.

I always work the background first.  It makes sense to me to go from the background to foreground so that all the edges are overlapping in the correct way.

Working top left to bottom right when possible also helps.  It means I can lean on the paper without smudging my work.

I start with the darkest tones first.  Always work dark to light with pastel.  Highlights go on last.

Almost there!  All the darkest areas blocked in and just the details on his body left.