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Monday, October 29, 2012

Demo Monday...How to Paint a Cat in Pastel

'In the Sunny Spot'         8x10         pastel       ©Karen Margulis
SOLD  email me regarding pet portraits
Every once in awhile I like to paint a cat.  It is a good change of pace from landscapes and it helps me practice my drawing skills and values. Both of these things are critical to the success of an animal painting.  You can get away with more in a landscape but if you are off in your drawing or values with an animal it is obvious.

I was asked by a reader to write about how I paint an animal and how I decide what to do in the background.  I will address backgrounds in tomorrow's post.  Here is a step by step demo of a Siamese cat.

 I am using an 8x10 piece of Uart.  I begin with a light pencil drawing. I will measure when necessary to get the drawing correct.  I preselect my pastels making sure I have several colors in a dark, middle dark, middle light and light value.  I begin by squinting at my photo and massing in all of the dark shapes.

 Still squinting I layer several more darks in the dark areas. I don't really worry about what colors I use only that they are all the same dark value. When done I will have nice rich and colorful darks. The key to making this work is to use a very light touch.

 Next I mass in the light areas.  I use a cool light.  I will also eventually layer more light colors in the light areas but at this stage I just want to block in where they will go. I like to wait until the end to put in the lightest lights so they stay nice and clean.

 After blocking in the dark and the lights I should be left with middle values.  I block in these areas with a variety of colors all dark-middle to middle value.  I do choose colors that lean towards the fur color but you can see I have used peaches, greens, blues and purples....colors not usually thought of as fur colors.  I am also working on the background at the same time as the cat. More on this later. See my post about Fur Color HERE

My road map is complete so now it is just a matter of building up the layers of color and refining the drawing. I had to use some background color to carve away areas of the cat when he got too fat.  I Never blend with my fingers of tools. I prefer to let the layers of pastels begin blending themselves I am careful though not to overblend or overwork an area. Make a mark and leave it alone!

For the finish I add a few 'punctuation marks' or spots of color or marks that add the finishing touches. Look at the top photo to see if you can spot these punctuation marks.

I hope you've enjoyed this demo. Be sure to visit tomorrow to learn more about my background choices.  Sign up for updates on the sidebar on the right.


Xenophonica said...

I have a lot of pastels laying around that I'd love to do prices of my cats with, thus step by step is very helpful, thank you!

Karen said...

Thanks Kae! I'm glad this was helpful!

Peggy said...

Make a mark and leave it is the hardest part isn't it! I'm to detailed oriented to do it that way but love this demo!
Thanks for sharing Karen!

Anonymous said...

Oh, gorgeous!

Thanks for the beautiful demo.

:) Riley