Last week I was looking through some of my old magazines, and I was finding wonderful cat image after wonderful cat image. For some reason, what they brought to mind was a series of books by Erin Hunter which my granddaughter enjoys so much. The characters are all cats, and each series has a theme, such as “Warriors” or “Seekers” or “Survivors.” So I thought I’d do a mixed media piece with one of the cat images from the magazines and work to a theme of my own extension of Erin Hunter’s cat series, whatever the cat might suggest as I worked on the piece.
As I so often do, I worked on the background first, just playing with my favorite colors making textures I thought were interesting and arranging the colors in a way that pleased me, not just with the color placement but also with the value composition.
The cat was rather small for my surface size – 11” x 14” – so I left a white border all the way around. Not only did this make the cat image fit better, but it also provided a built-in frame. When I’d done quite a bit on the background, I glued the cat in place.
Then I decided I’d like her to be a fairy, so I suggested her wings and antennae with rows of white dots. I made up a brief description of her story, which I wrote on strips of paper then glued around the border. There was a mention of stars in the story, so I added the row of five stars – cut from scraps of foil candy wrapper – in a line approximately where she was looking. Oh, and I enhanced her eyes with paint and also did a little strengthening of the shadows and highlights in her fur. This is what it looked like at that point:
In the story I, he became the Keeper of Blessings. So the next problem was what and where are the blessings.
I had a few large blobs of alcohol ink on the piece and I thought I could add more and add white paint to make them look like bubbles. Then I could put the blessings inside the bubbles in the form of tiny dragonflies. So that’s what I did.
The cat at the beginning of this post is a detail from the piece at this stage.
I also added colored pencil here and there and also more white above the head and in the wings.
At this point, the piece seemed like it needed a little more color variation, so I added just a touch of magenta at the base of the wings. And that provided the extra benefit of picking up the warm pink of her tongue.
But now, when I compare the piece at this stage with the original photo, there was something I liked better in the earlier stage - the dark blobs of alcohol ink. I’d converted those blobs to bubbles containing the little dragonflies and in the process lost that nice value contrast.
So as the final step, I put a few dark blobs back in, and also added more colored pencil. Now I’m finished!
Unfortunately, there are important features that just don’t show in these photos. But here’s one I took looking at the piece sideways so the iridescence would show. I’ve used quite a bit of fine silver pen (it’s uniball, and it’s a great pen) in the wings and above the cat’s head. Also, I enhanced the row of five stars with glitter glue and put a glitter glue star on her chest. It’s all really pretty in the right light.
By the way, my surface is a canvas board, 11” x 14” from Amazon. I got a 12 pack of these Royal Langnickel triple gessoed canvas boards for about $18 and I found them a nice surface to paint on. I usually avoid canvas because I like a smoother texture, but the texture on this board was fine. I may do a whole series, as I certainly have many more nice cat images!
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