Since I’ve just passed my sixth anniversary in blogging and and it’s winter, I’m featuring the painting in my header, “Warm Winter Sun” and set it up as this month’s desktop calendar. Of all the winter months, February always seems the coldest, so I need a nice warm image to look at, warm colors, lots of sunshine.
Some of my cats have inspired several paintings, others in the planning stages, others, no paintings yet, sometimes it’s all up to how much time I have to work. But some of my cats have inspired more paintings than others, and Namir was one of them. Something about his demeanor and deportment, his confident self-possession, made every move seem like a performance and every rest seem like a carefully arranged pose. Although he was gray tabby and white, his profile and features showed he had much of an Oriental influence in his lineage, and these lithe and graceful cats tend to be very self-aware. I’ve also featured “Darling Clementine”, a similar theme to “Warm Winter Sun”, and I also have a number of pencil sketches of him and dozens of photos here.
Below is a detail of the most interesting area, Namir and the rocker with the brilliant winter sunlight reflected from the tile floor. I love reflected light, it’s a different color from direct light and helps to give a subject a shape, and can also pull just enough detail of an object from a light or dark area that you sense its presence but know it’s not part of the main image. The rocker is defined this way. But Namir is also reflecting light back onto the tile, both in the sunlight area and in the shadows around him from his areas of white fur on chest and shoulders which form all the little pools of light around him.
This painting is in oil pastel, and painted in 2000. I was curious about oil pastel through the years and though my first experiments looked like crayon drawings. I persisted and finally came to find some control in applying it to the paper and blending colors, and using textured paper. Where, with my regular pastels, I layer colors atop one another and blend them as necessary, drawing hard details on top, layering in oil pastel often involved scraping away some or all of a color I’d applied and adding another on top, and blending seemed to best be done by simply running another color repeatedly over top of another, then scraping away an area where a detail needs to appear.
Namir is in that blissful feline “don’t bother me while I’m in my sun puddle” state, which is exactly what I wanted to capture. In order to describe him, I show his reaction, the crouched resting pose, everything tucked in, face resting, ears lowered a bit; he is not asleep, and will not sleep in this position, but is actively enjoying his sun puddle in the way that cats do, just being in that moment with warm sun streaming over him. It’s something we should all practice.
But Namir wasn’t the only inspiration in this painting—in fact, what convinced me to paint it that particular morning was my colorful gardening books on the bottom shelf of the book case and their reflection on the floor as well. It’s full of brown earth tones which alone might be interesting but not exciting. Those bright flower colors are exciting, but still allow the subject attention, and together they make a nice composition.
I not only love reflected light, I love reflections whether they be on water or on a glossy surface, and these reflections look simple but are just as complicated as the ones around Namir.
This painting was technically a “daily sketch”, but I only got a start on it in that moment. It was a Sunday morning and I was full of rest and confidence, and felt I could jump into using oil pastels for a quick sketch, a bold move considering I really didn’t know much yet. I didn’t get too far into it, but took a photo—and that being the days of prints I had to wait for it to come back to finish the painting. But if the inspiration is there it stays with you, and I only needed to reference the photo for color in order to finish.
But one thing that marks this painting as being a part of my personal portfolio is the one thing that’s inspired me from the beginning with my cats—it’s a cat in the sun. The wonderful contrast of bright sun and shadow is inspiring no matter the subject or medium all through my art and photography, and as I’d said with my first set of color note cards printed from four of my cat paintings up to that point, “Bright sunshine on anything will inspire me, especially when it’s illuminating one of my cats.”
Oil pastels and chalk pastels
I frequently work in chalk pastel, especially for commissioned portraits, because of its versatility in application and range of colors from delicate to vibrant to deep. Chalk pastels are made from pure pigment in a binder ranging from fine clay to gum arabic or cellulose to form a shape to be held in hand to draw and are, as the term “chalk” would describe, a dry medium.
Oil pastels may have a similar name but that’s about the end of the similarity. A relatively new medium at less than 100 years old, the pigment is combined with a non-drying oil and wax which makes it more like a soft crayon, and that was exactly what it felt like when I first began to work with it years ago, a crayon! I put it aside, disliking the feel of it and my lack of control, but when I worked in an art supply store and frame shop, I framed an oil pastel drawing that absolutely fascinated me with how it had been applied with abandon, layered, and even had areas carved out of it nearly down to the paper to create visual and physical texture.
Where chalk pastel is blended like a powder, oil pastel is much more difficult to blend but may be done by drawing one color atop the other, using a burnishing tool or paper stomp or even using a solvent medium like linseed oil or turpentine, so I put all the techniques to use as I continued to use oil pastel.
This painting won the award for Best Pastel in the South Hills Art League’s 2000 Annual Juried Show, and I got the chance to talk about what inspired me to paint it. In brief, it was just a beautiful moment.
Where to find this artwork
I offer giclée, digital and canvas prints of this painting, and can always have prints made for you in other sizes. I can also custom frame your print or custom cut a mat for a frame you already own.
This image is also available in my set of Feline Greetings Art Cards. You can also purchase a single card or a dozen in a box on my website, and I’d be glad to make up a special box for you, just ask.
Click the links below to find more.
This month’s desktop calendar
I’ve worked this image into a desktop calendar for you to enjoy and use for the entire month. Looking at the downloads from previous months and averaging out which dimensions fit which devices, I have reduced the number of variations from 12 to three. It was very time-consuming to create all the variations with new devices arriving all the time, so I have one for horizontal monitors/screens, one for square monitors/screens, and one that should fit the dimensions of nearly all mobile devices.
If these sizes don’t work for your device, or if you have problems, please let me know. Often I can troubleshoot the reason an image won’t download or won’t load on your device, but if I just can’t figure it out I can just email it to you and hope that works.
How to download and use your desktop calendar
- Click on one of the images below that matches the dimensions of your monitor to open the image in a new page.
- For desktop computers and laptops, right-click on that image and on a desktop computer choose “save as desktop wallpaper” or “save as background” or whichever option your operating system gives you to be able to do this. You may also simply save it to your hard drive and set it as your background from there.
- For mobile devices, download the image to your gallery then choose it as your wallpaper—this is slightly different on all devices.
Horizontal and HD monitors and screens
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Square monitors and screens
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Small Mobile Devices and Tablets
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Cell Phones and Smartphones
Take a look at other featured artwork and desktop calendar posts.
Each month I feature a piece of feline artwork from the archives to the present day, discuss its history and process, and set it up as a free downloadable desktop calendar for just about every electronic device available.
click here to see other artwork featured on The Creative Cat
or visit Fine Art and Portraiture on my main website.
If you are interested in a print of this image, check my Etsy shop to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
© 2015 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
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!