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A portrait is always build up in layers. Above an example in pastel.

• 1 - Start: this phase is most important. I work as long as necessary to get the proportions 100% accurate. With just some simple lines it already feels that I've 'catched' the essence of the animal. 

• 2 - Basics:  Then, I start with the eyes in full-color to capture the 'mood' and character (here the eyes are closed). I continue only when I'm totally satisfied, otherwhise the portrait will never show resemblence. Continuing, I use a flat pastelstick to fill in the whole body. Using all kinds of colors! 
In this portrait I chose some purples and blues. Building up in color gives such a richness! 

• 3 - Contrast: now I start working on the "blacks and not-blacks" in contrast. In dark colors and greytones, building up the fur using pastelpencils with sharp points to draw the hairs. Saving the highlights for a later stage! Sometimes I use a hand-mirror to check out if all proportions keep in place.

• 4 - Background: very important. Never finish a portrait befóre the background has been filled in. If you do, you'll notice that you want to start all over again. Shown in above pictures; the cat's there with no background, not finished. After filling in the background with some simple colors you see the effect: it shows almost finished!  (image underneath it). If you concentrate too much on just the portrait, people will only keep on looking at it's technique. Not feeling the portrait, not the sphere, and character of the animal! A portrait has to catch the essence.

• 5 - Finishing touch: finally time to relax, the best part of it all: highlight-time! In this phase the portrait starts to 'talk' to me. Here and there some small tips of white, ight-blue, orange lines, makes the portrait vibrate! (don't forget the whiskers!) Feeling the 'happy-artist-feeling", because the portrait seems to get it's own life.
Feeling this it's obvious: "you can stop now, I'm finished!". 

See also:  demonstration techniques / what are the differences between the techniques?

Murphy - 40 x 50 cm - pastel - juni 2004