Cat, Owl, Pussycat, finished – and other small victories

Cat, Owl, Pussycat is finally finished! And has a first coat of damar varnish to even out the surfaces of the various dull and glossy paints. I’ve recently added an earth pigment to my deliberately limited palette, and it seems to go dull or shiny at different times, with different amounts of medium.

The new pigment is burnt umber. I cut all earth tones from my palette a while ago, in an experiment to make color harmonies easier; if all colors are mixed from the same basic pigments, they’ll bear a closer relationship to one another than colors from a broad palette. But I’ve grown weary of mixing all my blacks and browns, so burnt umber — which I happened to have kicking around in my taboret — is a welcome addition. Combined with ultramarine blue it makes a deep, rich black, and with various combinations of cad yellow, cad red, and viridian it can fill in for any number of other earths. I still practice the art student avoidance of pre-mixed blacks.

So, my palette now consists of (clockwise from bottom):

  • titanium white
  • cadmium yellow light
  • cadmium red
  • alizarin crimson
  • cobalt violet
  • ultramarine blue
  • viridian green
  • burnt umber
  • … and, in the center, mother grey (a mixture of the other colors, made from palette scrapings of still-viable paints when each painting is finished)

I try to use as few solvents as possible — my studio is the second floor of our home — so my medium is a half & half mixture of stand oil and walnut oil, with a little Liquin (an alkyd drier), and I clean my brushes with a baby oil/turpenoid mixture and then dish detergent.

Just bought some long-bristled synthetic bristle filbert brushes, in sizes 2, 4, and 6 — I’ve been using sable and synthetic flats and rounds — and I LOVE them! So versatile and sensitive.

I’m exhibiting at the offices of the Community Foundation of South Central New York in March, and my work will be the backdrop for a special public event — how exciting is THAT?!

Also in March, my solo show Feathered and Feline will hang at Tranquil Bar and Bistro, and in April I’ll have two pieces in the group show Accompaniment at the Broome County Arts Council. Small victories all!

Cat, Owl, Pussycat: more paint

I haven’t worked on Cat, Owl, Pussycat since last Friday, due to drying time and little interruptions like dentist appointments, root canal work, and my own exploratory work in altered digital collage (more about the latter, later). All very exciting, but I’ve also been eager to get back to this piece. This afternoon I’ve laid down more paint, worked on a couple of bits that were nagging at me from that nail on the wall – like the terracotta saucer that had grown way out of proportion – and gotten the underpainting covered. Sometimes just getting some paint on the more intimidating parts is real progress!

Flowers aren’t a subject I’ve taken on very often, so this is a new challenge and learning experience. Hoping it doesn’t veer too far to the Cute and/or Pretty side…

Cat, Owl, Pussycat: stage 3
Cat, Owl, Pussycat: stage 3: at lower right, on the easel shelf, my Color Isolator tool. :)

New for Feathered & Feline: Cat, Owl, Pussycat

I’ve started a new painting, in the last couple of days… and surprisingly enough it’s based on one of the Sylvia photos taken last week, after I noticed a lovely curved compositional line in one of the photos. I’m calling the piece Cat, Owl, Pussycat. It’s taken a fair amount of Photoshop work on the initial image, and while doing that I came to the conclusion that it has to be done in oils. Why? Dunno, just that intuition thing again — not that it’s always right.

So here are the first two stages of Cat, Owl, Pussycat – the underpainting in cadmium red, and initial color block-in. Started to block in the Cat, but realized that if I blocked in the whiskers first, in white, I’ll be able to scratch back to it in successive darker layers for a nice, subtle look. Some Liquin in the medium, but it’s still drying more slowly than I’d like, so I’ll take the opportunity to finish up Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl and get started on Barn Owl, Winter Moon. More on those to come!

Cat, Owl, Pussycat - stage 1: cadmium red underpainting
Cat, Owl, Pussycat - stage 1: cadmium red underpainting
Cat, Owl, Pussycat - stage 2
Cat, Owl, Pussycat - stage 2: starting the color block-in

The owl, the pussycat… and Sylvia

Doing an exploratory photo shoot yesterday, on a quest for reference images and ideas for my Feathered and Feline series, I arranged a set of owl and pussycat figurines on the dining table, along with a pot of croqui and various ceramics. But Sylvia, our resident pussycat, had her own agenda — she is a cat with a great sense of humor. The results are a little too Cute for paintings, I think, but quite sweet in themselves!