Thank goodness this is absolutely the last page in my Rainbow Art Journal plastered in collage. As I did with the Flying Pig, I decided to keep the illustration very simple. This is partly because I no longer enjoy the challenge of painting over collage, partly because I did not want to commit too much time to completing this page, and partly because experience has taught me that keeping shapes blocky and limiting layers works best. I share my art table with my two cats. It is situated in the sunniest corner of my kitchen so, of course, while I like the position because of the natural light, the cats like it because they can snooze in the warm sunshine. They often, therefore, watch my while I am at work at my art table and I suspect they are critiquing me. That is what inspired the subject of this page. I suspect my two cats would have scathing feedback about this illustration. I agree with their assessment but I am just glad to have finished off this page so I can move on and not have to deal with a collage substrate again.
Rainbow Art Journal – Sphynx Cat in Stripes
I am a cat person. I am currently owned by two cats, Satchi and Peanut. My youngest son has an obsession with cats so we often scroll through cat content on my phone when we are bored in waiting rooms. Cats make me happy. A new addition to my cat joy, however, is sphynx cats and here’s the thing: I don’t even particularly like them. All of the cats who have ever owned me have just been moggies, not a breed among them, and sphynx cats are a very specific breed with a very peculiar aesthetic. My husband, however, finds them repellant. The thought of a bald cat curling up on his lap skeeves him out. This discovery has led me to seek out photos and videos of sphinx cats to randomly send to my husband just to aggravate him. (Please don’t worry about marital discord – bugging each other in insignificant ways is one of our family’s love languages.) Website algorithms being what they are, the net result of all of this is that I have been consuming an awful lot of sphynx cat content lately.
All of this preamble is the context of why I chose to draw a sphynx cat in the final page of the pink section of my Rainbow Art Journal. The drawing itself was simple and easy so the challenge for me was with the media I used to add colour. I am determined to get to grips with gouache but simultaneously keep procrastinating over using it. I was actually pretty pleased with what I accomplished with painting the head of the cat. I effectively treated the gouache as watercolour but it worked out. The background disc and the strips gave me more difficulty because I was using a thicker dilution of the gouache.
I could not get this illustration to photograph accurately, partly because of the lighting conditions and partly because the hot pink seems to knock the other hues out of kilter. What reads as neutral-brown and mustard tones in the photograph are actually orange and yellow-orange in real life. Making adjustments was just making things worse so this is the best version of the image I could produce.
PS I smudged paint with my hand in the bottom right of the page and I tried to cover it up using white gouache. The patch job is much less obvious in real life but I still need a better solution to covering up smudges. I also need to stop being so messy in the first place.
I have scores of Draw This In Your Style challenges saved over on Instagram. I find them useful when I have time for art but am short on inspiration. They are also useful for both reinforcing and honing the elements of illustration that make something identifiably my style.
One of the ones I have had saved for months was a witch with moss hued hair created by Heather Mahler. She has a very distinctive style and is also a digital artist so I thought it would be fun to give it a try in analogue. Working on this drawing, I realised how much more practice I need with drawing faces in profile. My skills in that regard have definitely atrophied over the several months in which I was not putting pen to paper. I never add tattoos to the figures I draw so it was fun to add all of those little glyph details to the drawing. This was a relaxing drawing to work on because I didn’t get stuck in my own head coming up with an idea or composition.
This blog has gone a little dormant generally. What with the pandemic and all, I just have not been up to enough in my life that generates blog fodder. This blog has, however, gone especially quiet when it comes to my art dabbling. That is not for the lack of art in my life, however. On the contrary, I have been drawing near daily since June. I have been sharing the results of a personal challenge (illustrations of vintage photos) and now Drawlloween drawings over on my blog that is dedicated to only art. Since all of my art time has been invested in those projects, art journaling has been placed so much on the back burner that it is stone cold. While I intend to take a break from daily drawing, I am going to return to art journaling in order to keep up with regular practice and stop those creative gears seizing up from rust.
Draw This in Your Style (DTIYS) challenges on Instagram seemed like a good way to get back into playing around and experimenting in my art journal. The subject matter and composition is all set for me so I just need to – like it says on the tin – draw it in my style. I thought I would have a crack at a recent art work by Behemot titled “Pale Girl and Very Suspicious Cat”, not least because the monochromatic palette appealed to me aesthetically and in terms of time management. I am pleased with my version of the Pale Girl. I think my illustration shares DNA with the original but is very clearly my style. It is a fun challenge to translate digital art into analogue so I am going to seek out a few more of those I think.
The Three-Legged Cat is Three
Last week was Satchi the cat’s third birthday. To be more precise, it was his honorary birthday which the boys decided should be held on his “Gotcha Day’, the anniversary of the date we adopted him a year ago. He celebrated with tuna for dinner and even more cuddles than usual.
He has changed so much in a year. When we adopted him, he had just had his leg amputated and was very unstable in his movement. He was also underweight and, while friendly, wasn’t that sociable. Now he is a healthy weight, possibly even a little plump, and super fluffy and manages just fine with three legs. While Satchi is still not a lap cat, he has become much more sociable, seeking us out for cuddles and affection, and cuddling up on one of our beds each night. He also has an adorable relationship with Peanut.
We really lucked out adopting two cats who are the best of friends. Our cats are just the best.
Peanut’s First Birthday
When we adopted Peanut in February, we were told he was three months old. This gave him a November birthday. The boys – particularly my youngest two – were very keen to celebrate Peanut’s very first birthday so they organised a little celebration party for him. Peanut and Satchi shared a can of tuna, a special treat for them, and the humans got to eat some carrot cake. It was sweet to see the kids making such a fuss for their cat’s birthday. I cannot believe how much Peanut has grown in the nine months since we adopted him. He is almost big enough to fit his ears now.
Smile like a Cheshire Cat
This week’s Colour Me Positive theme is “Smile”. I instantly knew what I wanted to create in my art journal: a Cheshire Cat.
I have always found the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to be pretty sinister. Even when I was wee and had no wider context or understanding of its themes and motifs, I found it creepy. This was in large part down to the fact that my copy of the book had been my mother’s and had some pretty creepy illustrations accompanying the text. It was also somewhat foxed and smelled faintly of mildew. The things is though that what I really appreciate and enjoy about Wonderland is that it is both amusing and scary, ridiculous and terrifying, joyous and creepy. That teetering on an uncertain fulcrum, that tumultousness, that sense of trepidation, is actually what continues to engage me in the book and its themes – though I have not actually read cover to cover it in almost 20 years.
It is the Cheshire Cat who most clearly, to me anyway, represents that sense of pivoting between the zany, wacky fun side of Wonderland and its threatening, intimidating, dangerous underbelly. The Cat seems caring but can be cruel. He is wicked and wickedly fun. He’s a riddler and a trickster. He is chaos. He is an absolutely wonderful creation.
I wanted my illustration of the Cheshire Cat to embody his bright spirit and his darkness so I chose to paint him part way through once of his disappearing acts. I like the way the black makes the candy pink and turquoise paints pop. I think he looks mischievous and manic because of that tooth-filled grin and the wide eyes. I am rather pleased with that. My 10 year old declared this to be my best page in my current art journal. High praise indeed.
The Owl and the Pussycat
Last week’s Colour Me Positive prompt was on the theme of Courage. While the theme and the supporting quotation failed to spark any creativity in me, the optional prompt to incorporate a boat did. For some reason, an echo from childhood reading and singing perhaps, the first thing that popped into my head was Edward Lear’s poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. I drew around a side plate in pencil to provide me with a circular frame and then I drew the characters and their pea green boat in ink in a fountain pen. I used watercolour pencils to add colour. Simple.
A Portrait of Satchi and Peanut
The week 17 Colour Me Positive theme was Friendship and I decided to just work with the broad theme rather than the more focused prompts. My inspiration was my two cats, Peanut and Satchi, because we Picts are all ever so relieved and glad and thrilled that they have formed a close bond with each other and are firm friends. My kids have been asking me to create an art journal page inspired by our furry family members so the time had come to do so. Short on time, as ever, I did a quick ink illustration and coloured it with watercolour. So here it is, my first portrait of Satchi and Peanut, our fluffy tripod cat and his accomplice, the one we call Peanutter or the Ginger Ninja with good reason.
Having blogged about the introduction of Peanut to Satchi, I thought I would update on how things stand just over a month later. In that previous post, I was hopeful that they would become friends and I am happy to report that that is indeed the case.
The two cats are chalk and cheese in many respects – one slow and limping; the other speedy and agile; one large, chubby and extremely fluffy; the other tiny, sleek, and slinky – they seem to work very well as an Odd Couple. At first they seemed to set out separate territories, chilling out in different rooms, giving each other plenty of space, but gradually I found that more often than not I would come home and find them curled up together on the sofa or snoring away on the same bed. They are also very playful together, playing chase, wrestling, playing hide and seek, more rough and tumble wrestling. A few weeks ago they even started grooming each other which was sweet.
They are good companions. I think they love each other. We are so relieved.
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