The first decisions made before creating this striking elephant in pastel

Choosing subject matter for my artwork is always a gamble….will people like it, will I enjoy creating it, will it sell? Also I need to consider size – larger works do not sell as well as smaller ones. But some images need space and create a bigger impact when larger….

So it is for my latest choice – an elephant. I found two images, one by George Veltchev taken in the Kruger and one by Steve Bloom taken in Namibia. There were aspects of both that I liked – the background in George’s photo and the tusks in Steve’s photo so I decided to combine them using Serif Craft Artist. This has been done very roughly as it is only to use for reference…..

The next step is to decide on size. As I said if it is too small then the image does not make an impact so I have decided to have the final painting as 15inch by 19inch which means about 23inch by 27 inch when mounted and framed. The lions, as seen below in a frame ( with reflections!!) are also that size….

Lions framed, elephant set up with reference photos

Having made those decisions I need to select the colours to use, both for the elephant itself and the background….luckily I have a large range of colours ( accumulated over the years ) in both pastel pencils and soft pastels to chose from. 

Searching for the best shades of pastels
Experimenting with colours of pastel

Once I have chosen the colours I then blend and mix as I go along, always comparing with the reference photos to get the best outcome….

Blending and experimenting with pastel colours

So as you can see colour and shade selection of pastels and pastel pencils is an ongoing process. My next blog will show you some more “WIP” ( work in progress) photos plus the completed artwork….enjoy your day and catch  up soon! Maybe at my next exhibition?   

Choosing colours of pastel for my latest striking seascape

I thought you might find of interest one of the stepping stones towards a completed artwork – the choice of colours.

Initial selection of pastel pencils

Once the reference photo is chosen then the next choices are paper colour ( my paper of choice is Artspectrum Colourfix paper ) and pastel colour. I am lucky to have accumulated a wide range of soft pastels and pastel pencils over the past 19 years and this provides me with a good variety of subtle shades. 

Searching for colours of soft pastel for artwork

I experiment with these shades on the paper I have chosen – the background colour will be influenced by the paper colour. For example, the lions required a different coloured paper compared to this seascape.   

Experimenting with pastel colours on Artspectrum Colourfix paper

As I progress I keep checking, experimenting and comparing the colours with the reference photo ( taken by Steve Carter ) to get the best result and this is the procedure I undertake with all my artworks.

Final selections of pastel pencils and seascape nearly complete

Rest assured you will be the first to see this seascape completed later in the week. Enjoy your day!   

Sneak a peek at how I created this striking kingfisher in pastel

Now that I have completed this kingfisher ( from a reference photo by Ian Marshall ) I can show you a bit more about how I created it, following on from my previous post…..

After the first wing is completed I started building up the background. I experiment with colours in corner of the paper ( which as usual is Artspectrum Colourfix ) and here I using my fingers to blend the background and make a smooth surface to build up the layers….

Experimenting with colours kingfisher
Experimenting with colours of pastels
Blending background kingfisher

 I alternate between adding details to the kingfisher and adding background….this stops me smudging the work and as you see I also turn the paper around to allow the pastel to drop off safely……you can see this in a short video I have created. You can view this on my Facebook page or my Instagram feed…..I hope you find it interesting! 

These are examples of the polystyrene pencils you can see me using in this video…..and here I am adding layers and detail with a pastel pencil. 

Polystyrene shaped for blending pastel
Examples of polystyrene pencils
Using pastel pencils on kingfisher background

I next start work on the branch and I am very pleased how it turned out. I started simply by adding the outline, then working from left to right, adding layers of pastel using different shades of colour until the branch was complete. 

Adding the branch to the kingfisher painting

The finishing touches are completing the background, signing the painting and framing it – here I am cutting mountboard with a mount cutter to fit into the chosen frame……

Cutting a mount for the kingfisher frame
Cutting a mount

….and here is the completed painting “The next catch”….Have a great day!

The completed kingfisher "The next catch"
The Next Catch – a kingfisher about to dive

A good start to this stunning kingfisher for the next exhibition

Good morning and hope you all are well? I thought you may like to see my current artwork while in progress. We have been away for a few weeks hence the lack of new work recently but back into now! What do you think?

Kingfisher comparing art with reference photo

I am always looking for a reference photo that is striking and detailed and this one by Ian Marshall caught my eye. I have asked the photographer for permission to use this image. The colours under the wings, as you can see above, really stood out for me….

Experimenting with colours for the kingfisher

Once I have chosen the initial colours to express the vibrancy of the feathers then I start adding the layers using sharpened pastel pencils – here I am sharpening with a blade which will then be followed by sandpaper fine sharpening.

Kingfisher - sharpening pencils

Anyway hope you like where I am so far and have a great day! This work will be for sale at my next exhibition in June. Catch up with more soon…

A great start to my next exciting artwork….”Lion Lovers”

Now that my current commission work is completed, I can now concentrate on creating artwork for my next exhibition in June. It has been a while since I did a lion and I saw this image on Pinterest that appealed to me.

Lion and lioness reference photo

It is always of concern when I cannot find the photographer who took the reference photo – have searched through 50 or more Pinterest posts and using Google image search without success. If you know of any other way to find the original photograph please contact me!

In the meantime, I have flipped the image and am working on creating something that is unique, even if the reference photo is widely shared.

I have started in the top left hand corner ( to avoid smudging ) and built up from there using soft pastel and a range of pastel pencils on Artspectrum Colourfix paper – you can read more about the materials I use here….

Adding layers to the mane on the lion

As you can see I have laid down a base layer and am now adding layers to the mane with a dark brown Cretacolour pastel pencil. In this next photo I have started adding the details of the mane using Cretacolour white – the best white pastel pencil I have discovered…..

The next photo shows me adding the details of the eye, having built up the layers of the face and mane…..

I hope you have found this of some interest and I will post the completed pastel painting in due course…..Enjoy your day and catch up soon….

Have a peek at my latest completed portrait commission

Following on from my last update “Day One…” I can now reveal part of the completed commission – Roxy. The rest of the portrait will have to wait to a future date as it is a surprise for the owner’s daughter….

If you recall, I took the photos in December at the owner’s home to undertake two commissions, one I posted recently of the owner and the other of her and Roxy. 

As with most of my work these days I use a range of pastel pencils for the details on Artspectrum Colourfix paper with Artspectrum soft pastels for the background. Below are a few “work in progress” photos…..

Artwork in progress in pastel of portrait commission

I took the completed artwork across to the owner yesterday and I am delighted to say that she was very pleased with the completed portrait…..

Portrait commission detailed pastel artwork completed

A glimpse at the completed portrait commission of Heather

This portrait has taken quite a while to complete, from taking the photos at Heather’s home in December to presenting the completed portrait to her this Tuesday ( February 5th ). This is the comparison with the commission nearly complete.

I am happy with the completed painting and I think she was too, though she said she has never liked photos of herself. Her husband was very happy with the likeness, however…here I am sharpening some pastel pencils….

Below is a collage of few “work in progress” photos. As usual I work on Artspectrum Colourfix paper using a variety of pastel pencils for the details and soft pastels for the background. See more of these sort of collages HERE.

Portrait pastel artwork in progress

And the completed portrait is below. Enjoy your day!

Heather completed portrait commission in pastel

Working on my first commissioned portrait for 2019…

I have hit the ground running for the New Year. Having completed the Christmas gift commissions, I am working on the first of four commissions for 2019 with a few more in the pipeline. 

Heather, my current portrait, contacted me after I was recommended to her. My wife Cath and I went to visit Heather at her home and took a large number of photographs until we had one that appealed to her and to me. These are just a sample…..

The best three of 80!

We have found it takes a while for people to relax and not feel self-conscious about being photographed. I remember a commission I did in the summer of “Brian” – it took nearly 100 photos and lunch at ours before we got the perfect photo….no point in having a posed one from a studio! But we enjoy the experience and the outcome too!

“Brian” commissioned portrait

I will be posting the completed portrait of Heather soon and possibly a video of creating her eyes for those artists of you…Enjoy your day!  

New artwork completed for my next exhibition in June 2019

As I continue to actively promote my website and my artwork that is for sale there, I also am working on artworks for my next art exhibition. This exhibition is called “Out of the Hills” and runs between the 1st and 16th of June at Aardvark Books in Brampton Bryan, Shropshire. 

My latest pastel artwork which is  nuthatch clinging to a tree trunk and about to fly off to the next tree. Detailed and realistic art.

Having sold my first nuthatch in 2017 I thought another nuthatch may be a popular choice for my next pastel artwork. I sourced a reference photograph by Erik de Rijk from

Nuthatch WIP with reference photo by Erik De Rijk

This is me at work on the nuthatch using a pastel pencil to add texture to the feathers. Such lovely birds that we rarely see here, living as we do with fields all around. They love peanut feeders in wooded gardens…a very special visitor. 

Nuthatch pastel artwork in progress Ivan Jones

This pastel painting will be for sale at Out of the Hills so see you there in June! 

My most recent pet portrait commission is a great success

After my open house art exhibition during H-art ( Herefordshire art ) week in September 2018 I was approached by Dick M to undertake a commission of his lurcher Betsy for his wife for Christmas. 

Knowing that the most important thing for a good portrait is a good photograph my wife Cath and I made a visit to Dick’s home and took a range of photos of this rather nervous, but friendly, dog. The best image was achieved when Betsy was in Dick’s arms……

Betsy pet portrait reference photo

Betsy was undertaken using a mixture of pastel pencils ( Derwent, Conte a Paris, Cretacolour and  Faber-castell) for the details of eyes and fur, and soft pastel for the background, on ArtSpectrum Colourfix paper. 

I was very pleased with the completed portrait and so was Dick. He sent me a text saying: “I thought you would like to know that the picture was a great success. Margaret was thrilled with it, and friends and family all admired it. Thanks to your good work I am the flavour of the month! All the best Dick” 

“Betsy” pet portrait framed