Thursday, July 25, 2024
black catscat artworkcharcoaldaily sketchgiuseppe

Daily Sketch Reprise: A Vigilant Nap

charcoal sketch of cat sleeping
“A Vigilant Nap”, black and white charcoal pencils on gray toned paper, 4.5″ x 7″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This has become one of my most popular daily sketches, and it’s the one where I really feel I hit my stride with sketching in charcoal on the toned paper.

Yes, Giuseppe is napping, but it’s not a serious nap, it’s a vigilant nap. He’s on my worktable under the lights while I am at my drafting table and computer in my studio, and apparently he’s been assigned to keep an eye on me. They take turns at this, and it’s clearly a different nap from a curled-in-a-ball, or a cuddle with siblings because the attention must be on what is happening, and one must be able to awaken immediately. He lifts his head at every noise, or sometimes only opens to big golden eyes, assesses what, if anything, needs to be done, then puts his head back down on his paws. I see his ears swivel constantly, and when he open his eyes, even though he is facing away from me, I can see his whiskers shift upward and the shape of his forehead changes. I am so accustomed to this position of his—see also “Tonal Nap”, where he is just outside the door of the studio—that I sometimes look past him, but I also spend time studying him.

I just finished this sketch at 10:00 at night, which is not typical. I usually do my sketches late morning or mid-day when the household is more active and the light is good wherever I go, also when my physical tools, eyes and hands and even arms and back, are not so tired by the day and I am more mentally alert. I am also more likely to experiment and feel more confident than later in the day, and I work more quickly, unlike now when I am best at detail work.

However, I began a sketch of Mimi earlier today as she sat on the floor next to my tall work chair up here. I visualized and visualized, then suddenly realized I should be sketching, got this gray toned sketchpad and just one charcoal pencil to start with and began an outline, intending to do as much as I could in a minute or two then work the rest of the details later in the day. Mimi waited until she knew I was engaged with the sketch, then got up and left, and avoided any position that was in any way similar to the one I’d begun in the sketch. But that’s okay. I’ll get her again some day. She’s a little peeved at me because we are not going out to the yard until I find a harness instead of a collar, and a leash because she decided to go off exploring earlier this week. This is my punishment for keeping her inside. I can live with a little feline scorn.

And now Mimi is contentedly purring on my lap and Giuseppe is wrestling with Mr. Sunshine out in the hall. Apparently there’s been a change of shift and it’s now Mimi’s turn to keep an eye on me.

Hmmm, Giuseppe is the subject of today’s sketch, yesterday’s sketch, and last year’s sketch on this date, and in each one he’s napping. I may need to see if someone is represented more frequently than some others.

. . . . . . .

framed sketch of cat
“Vigilant Nap”, charcoal.

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2 thoughts on “Daily Sketch Reprise: A Vigilant Nap

  • Oh, you’ve captured the shine of the black cat’s fur so very nicely! When snapping photos with my iPhone camera, the settings want to either make everything dark, or too bright. If I have to, I go for dark, then lighten when editing. The human eye sees black cats so very differently than the camera, and obviously, your artist’s eye is purrfect!

    • One truth is that no cell phone is ever going to capture the reality of black cat fur. I have a DSLR, and that’s the one I use to really capture them in photos. Then, of course, I have my art materials, and such purrfect models. But your method of shooting dark and then adjusting is the best way to capture good results–I do that too. And if you shoot on a neutral background, not white or really light so it causes the camera to overcompensate with contrast, you’ll get more detail in the cat.


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