Tag Archives: black cats

Cactus Cat

“Cactus Cat”

Painting #12 for my 14×28 Furry Friends of February challenge. “Cactus Cat” is 7.5″x11″ on 140lb Arches cold press watercolor paper. Click on the image for a larger view in a new browser tab.

I have attempted to paint from this same reference photo two or three times previously. This is the first time I like the outcome. I feel as if I have captured the moment in a pleasing but not too sickeningly sweet way… Maybe it is still too sweet, but.. ?

I used Indanthrone Blue, Quinacridone Rose, Manganese Blue Hue, and New Gamboge (all by Daniel Smith). I did mask off some highlights before painting, using my small diamond-shaped palette knife with Pebeo Drawing Gum. I masked the whiskers catching the light and some highlights on the flowers and leaves. I also masked the highlights in the eyes and on the ear.

After the masking dried, I wet the paper front and back and let it soak a bit. When ready to paint, I dried off the back, but left the painting surface really wet, except around the eyes which I dabbed off with a paper towel. I started with the leaves and flowers on the left, with all the colors at medium-strength.

I painted the cat’s face first with Indanthrone Blue only (leaving the eye shapes white), letting the paint bleed out to the edge at the back of the head. I mixed the blue and Quin Red in a mixing area to creamy-strength, then caressed in the dark purple on top of the Indanthrone. I then added some yellow to the purple to neutralize the dark. Keeping it really strong, I caressed in the darkest darks, leaving the blue and violet to show in the slightly lighter areas of black fur.  I carved around the flowers with the dark mix as well. The masked edges helped to keep the shapes of the cactus foliage and flowers.

I painted the shelf with New Gamboge, then added some red and blue to make a nice gold. I used the gold mixture to indicate the cast shadows under the cat, on and below the shelf. I added blue to the gold mix for the curtains to the right of the cat. I tried to keep some whites but minimized my strokes to keep the curtains really loose. I painted the far wall (right side of the composition) with the same dirty gold.

I used the gold for the first layer of the eyes. I worked some details on the plants while the eyes dried off. I used the Manganese Blue and Gamboge for the greens on the cactus (The Indanthrone was too dark and warm). Then I painted the highlights on the cat with the same Manganese, so it would not be isolated. After the gold eyes were dry (ish), I add the dark pupils then softened them with some red-gold and blended that out into the gold base. Remember, I had masked the highlights, so I did not have to be too careful.

The cat is a little bit crossed eyes, so I wanted to capture that. Did you know that a Seal Point Siamese is genetically a black cat? I have often found Siamese Cats to be a bit cross-eyed as well. Apparently, black cats also tend to be quite smart. We’ve certainly found that to be the case with our two black feline beasties. I wonder if our two have Siamese blood?

Well, that’s painting #12 of 14 done. Two more to go. My next posts will describe paintings #13 (already done), and #14. I’ve picked out the source photo for #14, but it still needs painting. What will it be a cat or a dog? Stayed tuned…

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