Last week we worked on painting my tuxedo cat in my Friday Watercolor class. Watercolor, for some reason, seems to have somewhat of a bad reputation because it has been labeled as one of the more difficult mediums to paint with. This is not the case. If you have a clear understanding of the tools, it’s no different than other types of painting. In fact, you get the added bonus of excitement because the paint travels around the page making this one of the most amazing mediums to paint with. The paint has an energy all it’s own!
This is the sketch of the above photo that we started with. I created this sketch in a new app called Procreate. The app is available for iPads. It’s really amazing if you get a chance to try it. I imported the top photo of the cat, then sketched over top of it with my stylus to create an outline of the image. The next step is to change the opacity of the photo so the only thing that appears on your screen is the black sketch lines. You can print this off and begin your painting.
We used graphite paper to transfer the sketch to our piece of 140 lb. Arches cold press paper. The paper size we were painting on was 6×8”. We then taped a half inch border around our paper. It’s best to get yourself some white tape because the green tape color can influence your choice of colors you choose to paint on the page. It was all I had so I went with the green.The next step is to drop in color.
The colors we dropped in were lemon yellow, rose and ultramarine blue. We left the eyes unpainted at this point. After this dried, we added in lots of paynes grey, brown sienna, and ultramarine blue. The next step was to add in more shading with the paynes grey and brown sienna. Payne’s grey is a great color for the cat because it’s not pure black but rather a dark blue grey.
Using our photo for reference, we broke down all the separate areas, analyzed the colors and shapes and painted them in. The best way to do this is to see the photo as a series of shapes and tonal values rather than a photo of a cat. This way you paint what you actually see rather than what you “think” you see.
The eyes are very important. They can make or break your painting. Examine them closely to get them as accurate as possible. You want them to look round and glassy. You can only get this if you paint the exact shapes you see in the photo. We used titanium white for the white dots in the eyes and for the whiskers. You could also mask out the whiskers prior to painting your picture, using masking fluid. You need a very fine brush if you go with this method. At the end of the painting, pull off the masking to reveal the white of the page. The titanium white we used worked just fine. The background was a combination of lemon yellow, quinacridone gold, brown sienna, ultramarine and phthalo blue. We painted the background with water first then dropped in colors while the paper was still wet.
Here’s the finished piece. Ain’t she just precious! Which is, by the way, the name of our cat. We found her on the side of highway 11 in January. She was just a kitten. She has been with us ever since. My children named her. At the time she was so precious and she still is our furry bundle of joy!
Think about joining my drop in Watercolor class on Fridays to paint. I would love the opportunity to inspire you!