Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Portrait of a hi-tech tabby cat

Cat & Mouse • ©2009 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 • acrylic on Gessobord

SOLD • private collection, Poway, California

I always love painting Bailey ... she’s so much fun with all her stripey-ness and her eye makeup and her stylish v-neck. I corrected the eyes from the last version; now she doesn’t look quite so cross-eyed.

It’s funny how different people will be drawn to different elements of a painting. When I showed this to my husband, his first response was, “That’s our Bailey!” Then: “I love the mouse -- you even showed the red sensory light inside. Cool.”

Here are the work-in-progress photos:

I started with a tonalist-inspired sketch using only mars black and titanium white:

Next I started playing with some color glazes to the different areas. Also, I thought her head looked too big, so you’ll see in the next few steps I tried different things to adjust the size of her head and neck in proportion to her body.

Now I’m starting to add the softness and fluffiness of the fur in her chest “v-neck” area. And a couple of little dark gray strokes define just the tiniest hint of a smile. I really had a hard time resisting adding whiskers until the very end. Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in little details too soon in the progress of a painting.

Here in the finished painting you can see that I lightened up the window area behind her head quite a bit, creating some lost edges at the top of the pile of books, at the back of the desk, and at the window frame. The back edge of the mouse pad was very soft where the light from the window was reflecting intensely off the desktop.

Having some lost edges along with a few heavily emphasized edges – like around Bailey’s ears, the bottom edge of her top paw, and one spot at the underside of her body where it casts a small shadow on the mouse pad - makes the viewer’s brain work just a little more, adding visual interest to the illustration.

Here are some brushwork details:


Anonymous said...

Look at you.... and just a mere 37-ish years ago you couldn't draw animals! You go girl!

Helen Read said...

Thanks for posting your process! Great outcome! :)