So first, we drew le chat reduced to its lumpy, adorable snowman-like proportions:
Then I found an image of a really cuuuuute kitty on the internets:
She is of course la Lizzie Cosette of the marmeladegypsy blog. I drew Lizzie in snowman-esq style, just to rough out her shape:
I filled in a few shadows, to familiarize myself with her markings and stuff..
…and then I traced the bare outlines of that sketch onto watercolor paper:
The paints that I’ll be using for most of the color in this kitty portrait are grey (Davy’s Gray in the tube) and my trusty ancient Grumbacher watercolors:
I will mix these colors right on my brush, getting various shades of brownish-grey, blackish-grey, and rusty-grey as needed, and for the most part I’m going to let the pint and the water do what it wants to do:
I do love the chalky texture of these paints.
I am going to start with the face because if I don’t get the face right I will trash the whole thing and start over. So I will work quickly to get some black markings in on top of wet brownish-grey:
I painted the eyes in and, before the paint got too dry…
…I laid in some black around the eye, but I didn’t let it bleed as much as before because bleeding colors is OK for getting a nice effect for fur, but this is not fur:
For the inside of Miss Lizzie’s ear, I used a very pale blueish-grey:
…and then I went back with my paint brush dipped in clear water to “pick up” the paint. I do this because I want a very delicate shading effect here, and subtracting paint is a good way to make an area look outlined, but painterly:
OK, I think I got the face alright, so now I’m going to start painting the fur. Lizzie is a tabby tuxedo, so to give shade to her white bits I use a very watery light blue wash. I just like the look of a very light blue shadow to indicate whiteness:
And, again, I’m going to work wet-in-wet, that is, I’m going to dab some brown and black and grey into the very wet blue wash, to get a nice watercolor effect:
All that, above, is done before any of the paint has a chance to dry. I’m not going to over-do the fur…I’m going to leave the body impressionistic. But I am going to get a lot of detail in the punim because she is soooooo cute:
I’m not painting the whiskers — I don’t have a brush fine enough and also, I like the look of pencil here:
And now I check it against my reference photo. It looks to me that I placed Lizzie at slightly the wrong angle on the paper; she’s leaning too far to the right. To correct that, all I have to do is crop the paper:
That’s better. Also, I notice that I’ve made one ear too pointy, so I go back and add some round-ness:
And I’m going to add a sliver of height to her darling little head between them adorable ears:
And I have to add some white paint over some brownish-grey stuff I painted on her cheek (I erased the penciled-in whiskers on that side before I painted, FYI):
Then I beef up her Cleopatra eye liner:
Add the whiskers back in:
Smooch, smooch, smooch. I love kitties.
Now, I did not paint cats like this from the get go. In my first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam, I put in the two cat portraits that were actually the first cats I ever painted:
These are the Sweetie Sisters, Candy and Honey, sister cats that I adopted from the New Rochelle Animal Shelter when they were senior citizens, turned in when their long-time human companion died. I was told they were 13 years old. They lived with me for three more years, and they were the sweetest girls EVER, and they passed away within six months of each other.
I am showing you these cats because they are sweet cats and because I think these are good cat paintings. What they lack in technique and drafting skill they make up in lopsided charm and wonky humor. I kind of wish I weren’t so compulsive and conformist and could continue to paint lumpy cats like this …. but you can! If you can’t paint a Lizzie cat today, I bet you can paint a wonderful dough-girl. Let me know!
And because I happen to think that tabby tuxedo cats are the coolest cats in the world, let me show you the coolest tabby tuxedo cat in the universe:
This is Larry.
He is English.He has a very important job in the cabinet of Prime Minister David Cameron.
No, it’s not as Goodwill Ambassador. The story is that Larry is kind of ornery and he doesn’t like many people but he did take a shine to President Obama, only of course when the cameras started clicking god forbid that Larry give evidence that he can be a nice cat.
Larry’s job title is Official Mouse Catcher at 10 Downing Street.
He is said to be very, very good at his job.
But he has to be reminded, every now and then…
… that he’s supposed to catch mice INSIDE the house, not out.
And now for something completely different:
I am looking for your photos of your Secret Garden. I now understand that if I were a gardener I would not have waited until FALL to ask for pix but as I do not even own a house plant, you can see that I am brainless when it comes to horticulture. That’s why I need your help.
I would love to see your garden photo (I guess I assumed that gardeners take photos of their creations just for the joy of it all year round and always have pix handy) OR a photo of any place that you consider “your” Secret Garden.
Yes, if your jardino secreto seems to be a good fit for my Damn Garden Book, I will do an illustration of it (and capture the process for a future blog) and it will be published in hard copy, with of course attribution to the Dear Reader.
So please send me photos of your refuge/still center of a turning world/secret garden to:
vivianswift at yahoo dot com.
How happy will I be to receive your photos? This happy: