This sketch was among my four first pastels, painted in 1989. I remember studying the highlights on Allegro’s fur, and the light outside the window and on the wall, with the deep shadows. He was on the basement windowsill, and I’ve always love the dramatic lighting of scenes like that. I decided to use dark paper and just sketch the highlights rather than paint the entire thing in pastel. Here’s what I had to say about it at the time.
“Cats always find the sunshine, and a sunny basement window at ground level provides hours of entertainment; Allegro sat there pretty regularly on bug and bunny watch. The contrast of the brilliant orange outline and his whiskers and muzzle silhouetted in reverse against the intense shadow of his body, the sun shining through his ear, the graceful curve of his tail and the isolation of the scene within the shadow of the wall made me follow him down there with a camera until I finally caught him.”
Here is the reference photo.
I can see that I didn’t quite catch thinks like the curve and shadow of his tail, or the lift of his belly between his legs, but that’s okay. I also enhanced some things like his whiskers and the reflection on his eye. I also remember studying many sketches with sketchy diagonal lines and wanted to practice that technique.
I kind of have to marvel at my variety of styles at that time, and working out the use of dark paper for the darkest areas, and working from dark to light. But I remember by then, studying the image and letting myself work it out before I started any drawing. That solution seemed the most logical because I knew it would be difficult to work the shadows that dark and get even coverage on the paper. I chose navy blue instead of black probably because blue is a complement of orange and it would help the colors snap where they light look dull on black paper.
Here is a detail of Allegro’s face.
Very simple in detail, in part because I just wasn’t there yet with what to include or how to do it, but dramatic and interesting.
My other favorite part of this painting was his feet, and the light on the concrete beneath them. His back paws were side by side so it looks as if he only has one leg. Today that’s one detail I probably would have changed, showing a bit of another leg there. But I don’t mind the way it looks.
This painting had hung in Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation for over a decade, and before that I only had a poor photo of it, so I never included it on my website. It’s nice to see it again and study an older piece, and remember where I came from.
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What is the difference between a “sketch” and a “painting”? Because pastel is a dry medium and not paint at all works have long been classed as drawings, and pastel works not considered “finished” or “final”, more like studies. But as pastel has become more popular and considered a medium in its own right, some works are also considered paintings. If a work covers the entire surface edge to edge in what is considered the image area, the work is considered a painting. If not, it’s considered a sketch. Of course, that can be subjective—many of the daily sketches I’ve done could be considered paintings because they fill edge to edge, but I’d still consider them sketches in part because that’s the way I think if them. But things evolve in our daily use, and art materials and works of art are among them.
Where to find this artwork
The original is still available, matted and framed, on Portraits of Animals.
I also offer giclée, digital and canvas prints of this sketch, 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.
Browse Featured Artwork
I also feature artwork which has not been commissioned, especially my paintings of my own cats. If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and art assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, I feature commissioned portrait or other piece of artwork on Wednesday. Choose the categories featured artwork.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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.
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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!
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