Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cats, cats and more cats!

Cat 'n Quilt

You can probably tell I love cats, they are my favorite subjects to paint. Over the years I have been owned by many cats, big cats, little cats, every color of the rainbow and never any two with even similar personalities. Just like people they are all different, but they have all left indelible prints on my life and heart. I had a grey cat named DC for over 18 years, when he passed away I told everyone that I wasn't going to get another cat, it is just too heartbreaking when they go. Well my friend Liz wasn't going to let that happen, she came over and made me get in her car and we went to her vets that had just gotten a litter of kittens that had been left on the side of the road. There were 8 kittens in the litter about 2 weeks old and no two colors alike. I noticed one little grey kitten all rolled up in a ball and put my hand in the cage to reach for it. I was moving my hand slowly so not to scare the other kittens, one little orange kitten put his paws on my fingers then pulled himself into the palm of my hand, curled up and went to sleep. I was lost, he had picked me, and I was his person. It was another 8 weeks before I could bring him home, and he had almost doubled in size, he fit in my  whole hand. He came in and took over the house, no fear of Elvis (resident dog), he was home and he knew it. You have seen a few paintings of him and heard his stories, his name is Albert and he is quite the character and loves all the attention he gets from his modeling jobs.

This painting of Albert is him laying on an old quilt that he loves. It was a gift to me from my sister many years ago, his orange color on the blue and green quilt is spectacular! He is a great model! I do my paintings on gallery stretched canvas, that means that the canvas is attached to the back of the stretchers, not on the sides. This gives me the opportunity to paint on the sides of the canvas and for the painting to be displayed without a frame. The canvas is thicker than normal too, most stretched canvases are 3/4" while these are 1-1/2" thick. It makes a nice statement on a wall and can stand alone on a book shelf or table.  When I do a painting I like to work from the real item. That can be a little difficult when trying to paint a live animal, so I do pencil sketches and take photos with my phone of him in different positions. I now have enough sketches of him for many more paintings!! When I am doing still life paintings I work directly on the canvas with the items in front of me in a set up. It gives a real freshness to the composition and color. So much more control of light too. When I am painting Albert I have to be very careful with the lighting, too much light and the color of his coat fades and the bars are totally lost. The other reason to keep the lighting down is the eyes, when cats are in bright light the pupil in the eye closes up to a tiny dot, I like the lower light because the pupil is larger and rounder, giving the cat a much softer look. It the movie "Puss and Boots", when Puss wants to be lovable they give him huge round pupils in the eyes and everyone becomes hypnotized by the cute little kitty. Someone really understood cats that worked on that movie, which by the way I loved!!