Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Watercolor Ari Cat from Life

 Watercolor Ari Cat from life - a first!

Or at least a first success. I may have tried painting him in watercolor without pen work before, but this ime it really worked. I love my beautiful cat. He's been my favorite model from the moment I met him fifteen years ago. He was six weeks old and looked like a Hallmark card kitten. Although I long since lost his kitten pictures and any sketches I did from him at the time, looking at the enormous fifteen pound beast I can still remember when he fit in one hand, weighed nothing and had tiny paws no bigger than the tip of my little finger.

I've painted him in most of the mediums I own, usually from photos until a few years ago when I started a series of Ari Cat Gestures. He only holds a pose for two minutes at a time usually. So I was stunned that today by a moment's whim, I crossed the great divide into watercolor sketching by not even thinking about it.

I packed up a bag to take with me for today's clinic visit. I put my Zeta journal and some watercolor pencils into a plastic zipper bag full of small oddments and supplies, the bag from a Walnut Ink Set that I got at Daniel Smith. It was a good bundle with an 11" x 14" waterproof zipper bag, bottle of watersoluble walnut ink, hard bound journal, two bamboo pens, sepia Pigma Micron 05 and maybe a couple of other things for a good price. Though I used the pens and ink and journal, the bag has been fantastic. Good sized, more or less rainproof and limited enough that I don't haul forty pounds of supplies when I use it. More than once it's saved watercolor and pastels paintings from rain, tucked into the carry cache of my rollator.

So what I had left out was my 24 color Yarka Professional Sequel Set. I used to have a set of 24 Yarka Original full pan watercolors and loved them, but gave it to a friend on the basis that I had way too many pan watercolor sets. Then I missed it - and realized I'd really wanted Sequel, which included a Rose color. I've got better primaries in this lineup, plenty of saturated colors in the Sequel selection. Three reds, two or three purples, three or four blues, four greens, only the most essential neutrals but those include my beloved Payne's Grey.

I charted them into the back of the 8 1/2" x 11" Beta journal, 180lb rough white watercolor, just because like many artist grade watercolors, a number of them looked black in mass tone. Forgot the names and guessed. I think now that what I labeled Sepia is actually a warm mineral black with a Russian name.

Then I looked up and saw my cat curled up peacefully in a lovely sleep pose. An easy sleep pose on a gold brocade coverlet. I grabbed a pencil, decided to pencil him before inking because I was sure he'd move and I wanted the shapes of his body in repose.

Several swift lines and I almost shaded... then realized wow, he hasn't moved. I could try this in watercolor, maybe capture the nuances of his old man kitty markings. Siamese and colorpoint cats darken as they age. Ari has done so and he's done it oddly, with some unusual dark patches like middle of his shoulder blades and that gorgeous pale ivory ruff. I picked up the warm neutral and blocked in the values fast, then started detailing with Payne's Grey where he turns truly black with a cool highlight - his face mask except for the edges and his trademark black ears. His tail and paws are a smoky cool brown a couple of steps lighter than his face. He is unique.

Ari Cat watercolor in context under 24 color Yarka chart

I worked fast with a Niji waterbrush. I love round brushes anyway and am very used to the Niji for quick watercolor sketching. The page isn't full but I'm posting it anyway. I might finish it out in the clinic garden.

I unpacked the bag, took out my Zeta and a lot of the loose little things that got stored in it, I've still got the watercolor pencils packed tight in a 48 color Global Classic leather case, but that could go in my jacket pocket if I want them. Seems like today might be a watercolor day instead.

A dear friend accidentally got two copies of Perspective, Depth and Distance by Geoff Kersey. She gave me the extra one, so I've been happily reading and enjoying Mr. Kersey's lively, detailed yet loose watercolors. I might tuck that in too and just go with watercolor today. It feels like a watercolor day!

Soon though, I'll do the next stage on the pastel landscape demo that I started thumbnailing on the 4th. I've done a color study for it and even the previous watercolor was almost a preliminary, certainly an exploration of stormy skies. By the time I'm done the photo reference might be unrecognizable but that's all right. 

A photo reference is there for ideas and details, not true color or values or composition or anything. Composition is just copying the photographer's art. Color and values are almost never true and usually adjusted by the photographer anyway. So what that leaves is form and details, a little distorted although that matters most on straight verticals and horizontals. I changed a lot of things in it to suit my vision and didn't even stick with the layout I got in the color study, so it's turning into a demo on design! Should be fun when I get to it. This morning I don't want to even think about getting dusty though. Not when I leave in an hour and need to conserve energy.

Tomorrow I'll be home and hopefully feeling better after my treatment. That always balances against exhausted by going out sans elevator but last time I did pretty well. Wish me luck this afternoon!


  1. Looks beautiful. Once I had to write essay about contemprorary art. But I'm not really good in the topic. That is why I found professinal help

    1. Thank you! I'm used to writing my own essays, always have been. It didn't matter what the topic was, I had an Opinion so the world was entitled to it. You make a good point that not everyone enjoys essay writing as much as I did.