My white cat was endlessly inspiring to me, and I would need two lifetimes to recreate all the images of her that I have photographed and saw every day. Sally was deaf and spent most of her days in her own little world in pursuit of her own happiness, which when possible included a rest, nap or long snooze in the sun. Here she alights briefly on the stool, reflecting the sunlight onto all that is around her while she reflects on the events of her day so far and just what is to be done next.
Sometimes a more finished, finely-detailed painting isn’t the best way to capture an animal’s personality, and especially not my capricious little Sally. I believe I painted this in June because that is when the sun comes in the dining room window at this angle, so this June features Sally in all her brilliant colors. It suits my feeling for June, colorful, contrasty sun and shadow, rich and warm.
Yes, that is one tall narrow sketch! Sally was so inspiring, all that white fur, all that color within the shadows and highlights. She frequently sat on this stool when the sun came in the window and I’d photographed her there, thinking someday I’d do a painting of her. But this was more or less a daily sketch, starting with actually standing at my easel by the big north window where I used to work, and seeing her there one afternoon. I sketched out the basics on a piece of blue Hahnemühle sanded watercolor paper that was handy, and likely because I was looking through a doorway and anything else in the scene was only distracting, I stopped at this width for the sketch. Narrow compositions are a favorite of mine anyway, vertical or horizontal, and because I wanted to focus on Sally but also wanted to capture the feeling of the light pouring down onto her and the grace of the stool, the tall shape fit the composition well.
I began from life, but Sally didn’t hold still for too long. I had the photos I’d taken in the past that were enough like her position if I put them all together, so, while the vision was still in my mind, I dug them out and began with the visual notes I’d taken in pastel on the paper and used the positioning and highlights and shadows from the photos to continue.
What I wanted to capture most was the sunlight through her ears, her face in muted shadow, colorful shadow from reflected light, silhouetted against her brilliant highlighted fur, and that tail, just spilling down like a trail of mist, I wanted just enough there to get the feeling of the light and color.
I had been focusing completely on Sally’s beauty, but one of the elements I hadn’t anticipated when I went to work from the photos was Sally’s reflection of light back onto the surfaces around her. When I looked at the spot after she’d moved, it was all dark. The back of the rocker, the wall behind her, I hadn’t realized until I looked at the photos that those areas only had light because it was reflected from her.
Years ago in order to encourage myself to break out of the rectangular shape and one brand of sanded drawing paper, I purchased a number of different pastel drawing papers and materials intended to provide a enough texture to any surface so that it would hold pastel. The usual paper was like very fine sandpaper, about the equivalent of 600 grit finishing sandpaper. Each of these surface materials was different: coarse grit, fine grit, marble dust and a type of gesso, which I applied individually, mixed or layered to scrap drawing paper and matboard. My assignment was to use these materials for sketches and save the usual drawing paper for finished drawings, so they were around the house and went, literally, out into the field with me as I was painting landscapes.
This paper has a rough texture because it’s watercolor paper, and then the fairly coarse sanded finish is added to the texture. I’d also used it for “Bison Shadow” because I wanted to discourage myself from getting caught up in details, I just wanted to rough in the lights and darks and blend the colors, and I did so with this painting as well.
I let little bits of the paper’s native color show through as well, which added to the interest and shading. I like the way the windows and windowsill turned out, above, just enough detail to understand what they were. And below, an exploration of working in deeper shadows while still keeping colors warm and bright.
In all, this sketch captured Sally’s capricious spirit, the ephemeral nature of her beauty around the house. She could be like a walking source of illumination, and it wasn’t entirely because of her coloring. I’m so glad I grabbed this moment and my pastels and paper because I’m sure I would have done something very different if I had gathered the photos and planned out a more finished painting.
A New Member Thank You
You can get a free matted print when you register for an account on Portraits of Animals.
Register for an account on Portraits of Animals and get a free matted print of “White Cat Reflecting” or choose from several other sketches, paintings or photos of cats and other subjects.
The New Member print is a signed digital print of “White Cat Reflecting”. made in archival inks on Epson Velvet Art Paper. This print is 6″ x 14″, matted in white for a 10″ x 20″ frame.
This print is only available as a new member gift during this month while it’s the featured artwork and desktop calendar, so make sure you sign up before the end of the month!
Or purchase the original or a different print or item
I also offer a variety of digital and canvas prints, a greeting card and a note card, find this on Portraits of Animals. And if you are interested in the gift items I’m making with this art, like tiles or keepsake boxes, you can search Portraits of Animals for “top of the world” and you’ll find what’s available. I’ll also be featuring them here too.
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 Feline Artwork on my main website.
If you are interested in a print of this image, check 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.
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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