Ah, these late summer/early autumn mornings when the sun, at a lower angle, fills the upstairs with light for the first time in months.
Giuseppe was enjoying a sunbath and in the contrast of bright sun and deep shadow with black cat, all I could really see were his highlights and his eyes. It’s an exercise to leave your subject as negative space when subjects are usually positive elements, and to work the negative space or background along with just enough detail to describe the shape of your subject, kind of like thinking in reverse.
I didn’t realize I was out of black paper, so I used forest green, which actually confused me while I was drawing on it—I wanted it to be darker, truly a challenge for what I was visualizing.
I missed sharing several days’ worth of sketches last week, so I’m sharing them today in no particular order.
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What other sketches did I share around this date?
Reaching Abstract Cat, 2013
This is an idea I’ve had for a while and finally took the time to work it out. I wanted to capture the fluid motion of a cat reaching and leaping and had envisioned shaping the silhouette in this way. I knew the shape I wanted, so I forced my cats to chase a feather toy as I studied them, then sat down to draw this. It’s mostly Giuseppe.
It’s purple hard pastel or “Nupastel” brand on laid-texture Canson pastel/charcoal paper in the color called honeysuckle. I chose my harder pastels, which are long narrow sticks in a square shape so I could utilize the sharp edge on the side, twisting and turning the stick in the shape of the cat, using the twisting motions to shape the cat. Because they are harder there is little dusting and blending for softer areas, and I really wanted just the clarity of the texture, and used the layered areas to build dimension. You might need to see a demonstration of it to really see what I am describing.
I worked this out in part in an earlier sketch of Mimi called Sanguine Nap, in conté on smooth paper. The conté only comes in a few colors, while the Nupastels are in many, many colors. I think this will be fun to explore.
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Puzzle of Four, 2012
They always end up cuddled together, no matter where they start the day. They ended up on the bed this afternoon, one by one, as if they have some homing instinct for each other, and tucked into each other like puzzle pieces. I generally have to turn on the lights to see how many are there and how they are arranged, look for ears and such. They pile up just as they did when they were kittens, one big pile of black catness.
From the top, in a zig-zag, Giuseppe, Jelly Bean, Mr. Sunshine and Mewsette.
Their mom was on the chair in my studio, waiting for me, though I never permanently showed up.
Imagine having a little family of black cats to share your space. They are there now, at shelters all over the country, and even waiting for adoption from the streets.
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Three Blue Cats, 2012
The same three as today’s photo at a different time, but that blue with the morning sunshine was so inspiring to me. I caught them while they were still getting settled, quickly outline each one individually when they stopped moving for at least ten seconds. When I draw with these brush markers I always feel the variable line quality helps describe their activity.
Too bad for my laundry. Sketch had to be done.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!