'Sunset' initial stages

I'm going to show you a few of the stages that I went through when I created 'Sunset'; this isn't as detailed as usual, as if I have time to photograph a project at the time you can usually see the layers more clearly; this time I'm describing it in retrospect, using sketches etc that I found in my sketchbook. But hopefully you'll still find it quite interesting.

My daughter bought me this necklace last Christmas and I love it! It's made by St Justin and I've got a few of their designs (they do hares and wolves and lots of other lovely things). I really wanted to do an illustration based on this pose.

At the beginning of the year I scribbled down some ideas that I wanted to develop; I've managed to get through most of them (still want to do some more deer!).

I didn't really need to do much at the thumbnail stage, as I had a clear idea in my head of how I wanted it to look - and the rest I usually leave up to fate (which mostly works out - but not always!). I was aiming for a lot of space in he picture and to just let the strong silhouettes and the vibrant colour do most of the work.

A bit of sketching from a photograph; I want to stylize the hares, but I think it's important to know what the subject looks like and how its body works before I start.

Some colour trials. I always do this, because the colours can so easily go wrong; once they're down on the paper I can't do anything about it and if they're wrong I just have to start from the beginning. Notice that I scratch into the oil pastel at this stage too, because some pastels become really weak and washed out once they are scraped away. This happens a lot with the expensive pastels, so I tend to use Pentel; they are really reasonable and such strong colours under pressure.

I don't usually use tracing paper, unless the design needs to be symmetrical. I probably could have done this one freehand, but it would have taken me a lot longer. Something like 'Hare Trio' or 'Elemental' would have been almost impossible without tracing paper (not for everyone I know, but definitely for me!).
Next I cover the entire surface with oil pastel, then layer that with lino ink (in this case I mixed a burgundy/brown); next I scratch through the ink with a scraper tool. Sorry I don't have any photos of these last stages - but here is the final piece!

sunset haresjpg
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