Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Page of Little Ari Drawings

Technically this isn't a painting - it's a 9" x 12" page of life drawings of my cat Ari. It's a serious project. I used an archival Pitt Artist Pen, black brush tip for its expressive line, on 100% rag watercolor paper. Every one of these little drawings is from life. The dates come in two clumps, back in November when I first started the project and then picked it up again late in April when I realized my winter slump had lasted that long.

This piece was difficult not because I don't have a lot of practice drawing my cat, but because I had so many little drawings of him and was determined to give the page a decent layout. The more of them I finished, the tougher it was to use the remaining space well, have everything leading in toward the others with a good eye path, create a good page as a whole instead of "cool little life studies."

I love my cat. I could and do draw him endlessly. I also don't mind having a lot of bad sketches of him crop up in my sketchbook. I lighten up when I do these gestures and don't worry so much about whether each of them is a good drawing or even an accurate likeness. This project, I wanted to do my best on them.

It's part of an art trade with Charlotte Herczfeld, my pastel teacher, a Swedish Colourist who heads up the Pastel Guild of Europe. She taught me how to handle color, how to handle pastels and depth and distance. She freed me from literal adherence to the photo and from sticking to local color instead of what I see. She also taught me how to create any hue I want with optical mixing and use a limited palette in pastels.

I've got several other artworks in the package. I'm nowhere near her level of skill, honored she liked so many of my works though. I'll be packing them all up this week to ship to Sweden and then wait for a wonderful, glorious package containing a painting that went right to my heart. I need to order a good frame for hers too, need to set aside that budget and not unpack it until I have a frame big enough - though I have mat board and can cut the mat for the painting myself just as I did last time.

I'm so thrilled about this and honored. I'm also vastly relieved that A Page of Little Ari turned out so well! I can't believe I managed, with all that care and patience waiting for good days and of course waiting for the cat to hold still in good poses, to fill the page just right. He is a great beauty of course, there was no question of the model's competence in this piece.

A long project completed just right! Nothing compares to that feeling!


  1. This turned out great, Robert. It looks like one piece of art, not eleven small drawings. I am sure Charlie will love it. It's neat what you and Charlie are doing. As you know, I owe a lot to her as well. She taught us to not be afraid of color. Or is that colour? hehe

  2. I have to use American spelling on my blogs, but when I write emails to anyone in Europe or the UK or Canada or anywhere English is spoken, I use the UK spelling. Colour always looked better to me.

    That was the big triumph in this - that I turned it into one coherent artwork instead of lots of little drawings. They're good in themselves but each does become part of the whole.

    Charlie is my inspiration. Of all my teachers, she is the one I agree with 100% of the time. I will be joining the PGE soon too!

  3. It really looks like one wonderful piece of art!