Daily Sketch: “Critter Watch”
This is Bella, crouching as the squirrel runs toward the door and the birds fly around and it’s all too much! But it could be any of the others in the house on the morning watch. I enjoy the abstractions they make as they move, and the simple geometry of the door and floor.
I had originally intended to use the toned paper as the mid-range tone, using negative space as a part of the sketch, but it just wasn’t dark enough so I added the gray in the center. It’s still easier to use a paper that’s a mid-range than to start with white, and the tan adds a nice warm tone to the grays and white. And I came out with the effect I wanted too.
I’m participating in Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days (30/30) Challenge for 2016.
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What other sketches did I share on or around this date?
Mewsette Watercolors, 2014
I thought I might not have a sketch at all today—I’m so scattered by the holidays mid-week for two weeks, I have no idea what day it is, and I really never know what time it is so it’s hard to focus. In my studio, I stood up to go and do something, I don’t remember what, looked down to see Mewsette’s wonderful shape relaxing by the furnace vent.
Perhaps that’s where the colors came from, because rather than grab the obvious choice of charcoal pencil, always handy, and sketchbook, I felt movement and wide strokes and a brush in my hand. Sounds like a watercolor to me, I thought, picturing two of my brushes applying a wash of paint in the shape of her paw and another bringing out the curve of her back. I stood a moment longer to let the visual develop and felt blue, purple, yellow, green? red? All the colors in the palette? I knew I wanted the blends, started with a base of yellow and worked the highlights and shadows on her fur in all the colors I saw. I did not want her against a plain white background, so I began with a few speckles and went from there. Fun!
One other thing about watercolors is that I need a container or two of water, and upstairs that usually comes from the bathroom sink. That’s a little more complicated now than usual with Bert and Ernie in there, the door closed, the baby gate. Getting in and out of there with containers of water can be tricky, and it’s also distracting to my model who, by the time I get into and out of the bathroom with sliding bi-fold doors and stepping in and talking to Bert and Ernie and the thought of treats and food they have and by the time I get back out with my water and collect my brushes and paints and watercolor pad, my model is usually up and about and no longer in the inspiring pose. I’ve been keeping a couple of containers of water in the studio, one for drinking and one for painting, so I hope to do a few more watercolors upcoming.
And below, I see Mewsette was also inspiring on this date in another year!
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Calming Purple Kitty, 2013
Mewsette quietly curled in a perfect circle, and when I got tired of stepping over her, I sketched her with my favorite ink drawing pen and a quick purple wash of watercolor.
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Kelly Sleeping On My Lap, 2012
My other little tortoiseshell has been pretty upset with Cookie’s condition lately, but she gets a welcome respite on my lap. This is larger than usual, but holding the sketch pad out in front of me with my left hand and sketching with my right was a challenge. Just in familiar old charcoal pencil, a relaxed and purring Kelly was a sketch I could not pass up.
And I might amend that to say that Kelly has been really freaked out by Cookie’s condition and the situation. Kelly only accepted living with people conditionally, and that being that nothing ever changed in the household at all, ever, in any way. She’s sweet and affectionate and very, very talkative, but she has always bathed nervously and excessively and her insecurity is just below the surface when, at the slightest change in the day, a car pulling up outside, me dropping something loudly on the floor or a new cat in the house she simply vaporizes. She was the youngest for 11 years and though we lost kitties and there were plenty of fosters, there were no permanent new ones until Peaches. And then there was Mimi, which was fine with Kelly. But then there were the Fantastic Four, and although I very slowly introduced them and closed them away overnight much longer than I would any other foster cats, Kelly never adjusted to their presence. It was just too many new cats at once, and they all try to touch her. So she gets some time out at least twice a day, afternoon, and overnight, which has always coincided with the Senior Lunch Special and the Tortie Midnight Snack.
She’s also had her relationships first with one cat in the household, then with me. First it was Namir, who came in with her; when he died she turned to Peaches and cuddled with her regularly. After Peaches she turned to Cookie, and while both of them are friendly and affectionate, well, they are not so with each other. It’s more like tolerance. But Kelly needs her feline relationship, and I noticed odd things in Kelly before Cookie even hit her low spot on Christmas weekend.
First, Kelly started sleeping behind the books in the big entertainment center in my office. Shine a flashlight, I’d just see two eyes, just like when she first arrived in 1997, and I’d have to coax her out for meals. When Cookie needed more time and care I blocked Kelly’s access to this and she began sleeping in the box of packing and shipping boxes, as far down and even underneath them as possible. I’d put her in the bathroom for her meal, and she’d cry the whole time. She was not ever, in any way, permitted to touch the floor in any room, which made for a lot of carrying Kelly around and some interesting litter box visits..
Needless to say, this was distressing to all of us, but over the weekend Kelly figured out her role in all this was to bathe Cookie and cuddle with her, and in order to do that she must be on the floor. So she is now allowed to touch the floor and she has a job to do. We have made progress.
Because it’s quite cold, Cookie needs to stay in a warm place, and Kelly will stay with her. As I sat on the floor in the bathroom to talk to the girls and spend time, Kelly decided to take a little break from her caretaking and relax on my lap, a little bath, a big stretch, a lot of purrrrrr.
I had the time to catch some of her markings, and her toe curls and front paw air-kneading, her chin resting on my knee; her tail looks a little skimpy because you are actually seeing it foreshortened as it drapes off my leg and the end rests on the floor.
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Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
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Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
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