The Literary Cat © 2011 Karen Mathison Schmidt
5 x 7 • oil on Gessobord
SOLD • private collection, Jacksonville, Florida
Here’s Ray, relaxing amongst a few of his favorite volumes: A Tale of Two Kitties, To Eat a Mockingbird, The Sound and the Furry, The Cat Is a Lonely Hunter, Tuna Lighthouse, and, of course, his favorite of all time ... *ahem* ... The Great Catsby.
(If these punny titles evoked a good-natured groan from you, my goal has been achieved. Maybe you all can come up with some more feline-friendly titles in the comments section.)
And now, some work-in-progress photos:
First, the sketch in purple & burnt sienna acrylic, followed by an overall glaze of indigo blue.
Now, a yellow glaze on his eyes and the bookcase:
After the underapainting is dry, I start adding the oil colors. I know this is backwards or upside-down from the way we artists have been taught, but in a portrait, whether person or pet, I always start with the eyes, and get that detail completely done right off the bat, because if you get the eyes right, that’s a big chunk of the work already done. And this might sound kind of weird, but with the eyes bringing the painting to life at the start, it’s more fun for me to work on the rest of it.
Notice also that the eyes are almost never just mirror images of each other. Everyone’s right eye is different, even if only slightly, from their left. And because the eyeball is wet, it’s always going to have several different color reflections in it, and sometimes more than one highlight.
Now I paint the bookcase, leaving some of the greenish underpainting showing through to suggest the grain of the wood:
In the finished painting, below, you can see I’ve added a suggestion of highlights on the top front edge of each shelf, I painted the books and added color in the surface of the top shelf to suggest the reflection of the books. In the previous photo, notice how incomplete his face looks without any suggestion of whiskers or ear hair.
Now there’s the Ray I know and love!