Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine and Mimi hang out with me in the kitchen.
Often when I draw these five black cats, and even when I don’t but just visualize, I am visualizing their silhouette as a shape, but not paying any attention to their color. That may be stating the obvious seeing cats in every shade of pastel and watercolor and colored pencil and any other medium I have, but because they are solid and because they are black, I can start with them and go on to other ideas.
But I like their darkness and while I often use a blue or purple or other dark color instead of black so the deepest areas have their own brilliance, sometimes I really want pure black. There are many other ways than using a black medium such as ink or charcoal to draw them—and that’s just too easy, sometimes I want a challenge. And instead of the flat representations I often have, I wanted them to look a little more dimensional, as if their shapes lifted from the surface.
I was watching them in the kitchen as the five of them moved on and off the cabinet under the light in the middle of the room bathing themselves and each other, watching me, looking out the door and just engaging in feline meditation, seeing the deep black of their fur with just minimal highlights made by the light shining from directly above, and highlights in warm yellow tones. To catch this, I’d want the black to be about as solid as possible, and that’s easiest accomplished by starting with a black base. I decided to use a black sheet of my pastello paper.
Totally unrelated, I had been testing the points on my pastel pencils and had a sheet of brown paper with different colored lines sketched on it, and I liked how it looked. I decided I’d use this the next chance I got, and decided this was my chance.
The challenge, of course, is to NOT draw the cats, but to draw just their highlights and the background around them. I did end up outlining them, but that was because in watching them moving around I kept losing their shapes as I moved from Sunshine in the middle, Giuseppe on the left and Mimi on the right before I ran out of paper. Seems like I need a little more practice in this! I’m not sure why I used the green for the cabinet top when it wasn’t in my initial visual palette, keeping with yellows and blues because those were the most convenient pencils, but I like its brilliance.
And no matter the colors I used, they are strong shapes and have just enough dimension to them.
Mr. Sunshine is ignoring me and Mimi is washing her face, but Giuseppe is watching me sketch because the pencil is making exciting little scratching noises on the paper, kind of like a mousie.
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- Petties 2014
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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!