Monday, May 19, 2014

The pitfalls of painting pets

Let me begin by saying that I am not a painter of pet portraits. I truly admire those who can stay afloat in the emotional waters of commissioned portraiture. Painting loved ones, human, furry or feathered seems fraught with danger and disappointment. It will be a cold day in you-know-where when I splash in that pool.

Well, as you know, it's been a rather cold spring...

So, I said yes to a request to paint a beloved cat - that I have never met. And honestly, cats are sort of foreign creatures to me. But a wonderful photo was provided with great colors that compliment and contrast with her tiger stripes and I thought, this could be a really nice painting!

The only thing is... the cat was lying down and the photo was vertical. It just didn't feel right to paint a horizontal cat in a vertical format (and I don't know how to "leave well enough alone"). So, to fill a horizontal canvas I needed more cat. No problem. It's a cat. There are pictures all over the internet.

But none were in a similar position, or the same color... or fluffiness. Thankfully the cat's extended family surreptitiously provided other photos and important information about her white socks! So, after looking at many, many images of cats lying down, a horizontal composition evolved and I was fairly sure it wasn't a bad likeness. Not quite the same as knowing it's a good likeness.

Cougie's Quilt ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze
And this is why I paint from life. Well, from actual (but, non-living) things. You can look at all their parts and not have to imagine the shape of a handle or softness of a surface. You can see where the shadow falls or why a reflection is where it is. And if you don't like where a shadow or reflection lands, move things and change it!

To tell the truth, I really enjoyed painting this cat's sweet face. The translucency in the ears and the reddish light that glows through that thin skin were especially fun to capture. Plus, painting fluffy fur is just sort of mesmerizing!

And I'm happy to say, my friend who commissioned the painting, was very pleased with the result. Fingers crossed that the cat's family feels the same.

Thanks for visiting and viewing my art.

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