White Innocence, Cat Head (“Rocky”)

Annnnnd . . . it’s another cat head! I love painting the cat heads, as if that wasn’t already abundantly clear!

“White Innocence,” 6×6″ oil on linen panel.

I’ve found a rich source of cat head references, at PaintMyPhoto. Fellow PaintMyPhoto member Inge Dagmar Manders has generously provided several lovely photos of her kitties, and this is (I believe) the second photo of hers that I’ve used as reference for a painting. This is of her cat “Rocky.” He appears, at least in this pose, to be the epitome of innocence, with beautiful aqua eyes and a sincere look. Very likely Inge has a different opinion of him, knowing how cats will be!

What I loved about this kitty was the abundance of colors found in the fur. Warm and cool, pinks in the ears, around the nose and mouth. Blues and warm grays elsewhere, battling for attention, shaping the structure of the cat’s head.  All wonderful stuff, I love it!

I painted this on a SourceTek panel (which you can buy at canvaspanels.com). Portrait-weave, oil-primed linen on Baltic Birch. What’s not to love? And love it I do! I have a lot of SourceTek panels stockpiled!

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Seated Kitten

“Seated Kitten” oil on panel 8×10″ thanks to Cherry Aron of PaintMyPhoto.com for the photo ref I used as inspiration!

“Seated Kitten” oil on panel 8×10″ thanks to Cherry Aron of PaintMyPhoto.com for the photo ref I used as inspiration!

My latest effort, this time a full body cat painting (not just the cat head! 😉 ).

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Pretty Kitty

"Pretty Kitty" oil on 5x5" panel. Thanks to Lisa Martin of PaintMyPhoto.com for the reference photo!

“Pretty Kitty” oil on 5×5″ panel. Thanks to Lisa Martin of PaintMyPhoto.com for the reference photo!

This is such a remarkably beautiful kitty! I found the reference photo over on PaintMyPhoto and couldn’t resist painting this cat. It’s just a little painting, 5×5″ on an Ampersand Artist panel (with a slight “canvasy” texture).

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Mini-Tutorial: Experiments in Water Mixable Oils

WORK IN PROGRESS, 6×6″ water-mixable oil on stretched canvas.

Oy. My current schedule has not been conducive to painting and it’s very frustrating. But hopefully it will be back to “normal” (what qualifies as that for me!) soon.

I haven’t been able to spend much time at my studio, so I set up a very humble corner at home where I could paint. But painting with solvents (like paint thinner) was a no-go, so I thought I’d break out some water mixable oils I had, and see what I could do. I’ve done two paintings so far, neither finished, and I post the more “finished” looking of the two. It’s just a simple oil sketch of one of my made-up people (no model or photo reference). It needs more tweaking, which I’ll do as soon as it dries.


Right now the main advantage I see with water-mixables (also known as “WMOs”)

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Grey Kitty – 4×4″ cat head

Grey Kitty Head, 4×4″ oil on panel. Thanks to WesternStock of DeviantArt for the stock photo used as reference.

This little grey kitty was spontaneously painted on a 4×4″ panel I had lying around. He has such clear eyes, such a sincere expression, what’s not to love?

The panel I used was primed with lead primer (don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe unless you start chewing on the edges!) which is especially wonderful to paint upon. The paint slides over the surface in a unique way that is just . . . so sublime. The primer I used was Holbein’s “Foundation” oil color, I believe the umber-tinted one. I love Holbein’s foundation line, which includes a white, a grey, a sage green, and a beige (tinted with umber).

I like painting on small panels sometimes because less is more, and usually it can be done (or almost done, in this case) in one sitting! It gives you a feeling of accomplishment to do a new painting almost every day, right?

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Cat in the Grass, oil on panel

“Cat in the Grass,” 6×6″ oil on panel. Thanks to valeaves of dA for the stock photo!

This painting has been simmering on the backburner for about a month. I set it aside after doing the first stage, worked on some other paintings for a while, and finally decided to complete it.

The green background (grass and foliage) gave a green cast to the cat’s fur. Quite a challenge! Without the background color of grass green, the colors bouncing off the kitty would not make any sense! This is a beautiful tortoiseshell/calico kitty with clear, green eyes that reflect the green of the background.

The Brush.

This painting was the one that caused the damage to The Brush. I have a favorite paintbrush, entitled “The Brush” because it is THE go-to brush that I grab often during my painting. It was so loved, so relied on, so adored, that its beautiful handle snapped off in my hand as I was working on “Cat in the Grass.” There’s still enough of a handle left so I can continue to use it, but it’s also starting to show wear elsewhere. (I guess I am hard on The Brush. I do wash my brushes religiously, but I guess something about how I use The Brush is contributing to its gradual demise.)

The Brush is probably just a simple sable Bright (size 6) but I have bonded with this specific, particular brand of brush, so I’m afraid to deviate to any other type, because maybe it’s not quite like The Brush. My source for The Brush is The Italian Art store, their own label (which I’m sure is actually made by some other brush maker and stamped with The Italian Art Store’s name). So since I am hard on The Brush, I must order duplicate The Brushes, so I am never without a supply!


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Ivory Skin and Black Lace

“Ivory Skin & Black Lace” 12×12″ oil on panel. Thanks to La Esmeralda Stock on dA for the reference photo I used as inspiration!

My latest effort. This was done on the “Artist” panel by Ampersand. A good panel, classified as “budget,” but also still archival. I have a lot of these panels. It has a dovetail slot in the back, so it can be hung as-is on the wall, or slapped in a frame. I love the dovetail slot feature, which is why I’ve stockpiled a lot of these boards. They are about 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick (I think 3/8″) and the sides of the panel are painted a complementary color, so if they are hung unframed, the edges of the board look finished (somewhat reminiscent of “gallery wrap” canvases, which can also be left unframed).

I enjoyed this painting and think the model is very striking. She’s great fun to paint. So dramatic! Her skin is so pale and light, I confess I had trouble capturing that adequately with my color mixing. I think I made her a bit more “pink” than she was in the reference photo, but hopefully she’s not too ruddy or flushed. (All monitors are calibrated differently, but on my computer display, she doesn’t look too red-skinned.)

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A bit about alkyds… (overview/tutorial)

I’m going to add a brief entry to my “tutorials” section. It’s not much, but I feel badly that I haven’t been updating the blog as frequently. (It’s summer, what can I say? I went on another road trip last week.)

I’ve dabbled in alkyds (fast-drying oils) for a long time now. I first tried it in art school, many moons ago. I think that at the time we only had Winsor & Newton brand. The first impression I had of alkyds (back then) was that they weren’t as opaque as regular oils, and they had a kind of “waxy” texture. But they were quite workable, and I loved the fast drying time!

"Jason in Shadow," 5x7" alkyd on Gessobord. Thanks to Jason Aaron Baca (model) and Portia Shao (photographer) for the use of the stock reference photo.

“Jason in Shadow,” 5×7″ alkyd on Gessobord. Thanks to Jason Aaron Baca (model) and Portia Shao (photographer) for the use of the stock reference photo.

Here’s an alkyd study I did recently. Now we have several brands of alkyds to choose from, and they don’t seem as “waxy” as they used to, way back. But they are still quick-drying!

I typically use Liquin (an alkyd medium) when I paint in alkyds. This should help speed drying time more. I find that usually in less than a day (depending on the paint thickness) the painting is dry enough, and ready to be worked on again.

Here’s another recent alkyd painting (WORK IN PROGRESS!).

“Blue Hair,” 12×12″ oil (alkyds) on canvas panel. WORK IN PROGRESS!!!! Thanks to Cathleen Tarawhiti on DeviantArt for the stock photo I used as reference.

With “Blue Hair,” the painting was dry to the touch later the same day, so I was able to do some work in the morning/noonish, and do a little more later on in the day. Amazing! I love my alkyds.

Even though we have several brands of alkyds to choose from (as opposed to just W&N’s alkyds, back in the day), I wish there were even more brands and colors available. Winsor & Newton’s “Griffin” brand has recently discontinued all cadmium colors. I understand that they have probably made this decision because cadmiums have some toxicity, but cadmium “hues” aren’t the same—cadmiums have an opacity and denseness that cannot be replicated in “hues.” Fortunately, the other alkyd brands (C.A.S., DaVinci, and Gamblin) do still carry cadmiums.

Each brand of alkyd has their own properties. I think DaVincis tend to be very thick and stiff. (Kind of like Old Holland in that respect.) I will still use them, am very grateful for DaVinci’s line of alkyds, but given a choice, I prefer something a little more buttery. Gamblin’s “FastMatte” alkyds are pretty good, soft and buttery, though I wish they carried more colors. CAS is a good quality brand, but sometimes their customer service sucks if you order from their site. (Long, long story there. For another time!) Griffins have a good consistency and I think a decent pigment load, but I miss the cadmium colors.

Alkyds have, in some form or another, been around for many decades. I’ve heard that studies indicate that they are “stable” and I am comfortable using them. My old paintings done in art school still seem rich and vibrant as ever. As long as we use pigments that are strong and light-fast, I think they’re an awesome alternative to regular oils. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable to mix alkyds with regular oils. (Many artists use an alkyd white with their regular oils, which tends to speed up drying time on all the paints.) Some manufacturers of regular oils sell a “fast drying” white, which is often made with alkyds, for artists who enjoy the fast-drying properties of alkyds but don’t want to use a whole set of alkyd colors.

This page has a good overview of alkyds.

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An Apple, and Alkyds

My absence from this blog should not be interpreted to mean that I haven’t been painting! I’ve got several new works lined up, as well as other things, art-related, going on.

“Apple” 6×8″ oil on panel. Painted from life.

This was painted a few days ago, from a simple still life setup at my studio. I painted with fellow artist Diane, who has previously worked mostly from acrylics and wants to get into oils.

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Grey Kitten Head

“Grey Kitten Head” 4×4″ oil on panel. Thanks to Catstock on DeviantArt for the use of the stock photo as reference!

I’ve missed the cat heads. Here’s a kitten head, but I fear I made this kitty a little more “mature” than the real kitten. This kitty looks like he or she is perhaps in her “teenage” years.

Cat fur is is fun to paint, but difficult. The markings, the softness, it can sometimes be tricky to capture. You’ve got to do it delicately, and with more subtle values. I enjoy the challenge and hope I’m improving in this area!

This was painted on a slightly different surface—I used Cheap Joe’s Prime Extra Fine Art Board. It’s 1/2″ thick, with a slot in the back for hanging. You can hang it as-is, or frame it as you would a regular canvas or panel. It comes unprimed, so I primed it with Winsor & Newtons “Clear Gesso” which was interesting. It is clear (though I think it’ll start to go opaque if you get it really thick) and it has quite a bit of tooth to it. I rather liked it, though.

Another kitten portrait is coming up very soon! Because if you’re familiar with this blog, you already know, I love painting the cat heads.


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