Painting in Acrylics: “Yoda the Cat”

A Birthday Present

In March and April, I had the creative urge again.

It also conincided with one of my friends birthdays, so I decided to take the plunge and see if I could paint something for them.  I must say I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this, as I didn’t know if it would be any good, or whether they would indeed want something I’d made them… with that in mind I also picked the up a couple of small traditional gifts in case!

My friend loves her cat Yoda, so it made sense to me to follow in the animal theme and use him as the subject. This presented a few challenges as I had limited reference photos and more importantly I’d never tried to draw or paint a cat before, and as it was going to be a gift it had to look vaguely recognisable!

The picture I chose as reference was one that was sent to me a fair while ago, but summed up the Yoda’s personality perfectly as he was lying on his back playing up for attention.  Whereas the photo showed the cats whole body splayed out, I chose to focus the composition slightly on Yoda’s face and top half, to avoid the “floating in space” appearance you sometimes I risked getting.

As I’d never drawn a cat before, and it was important to me that it looked like the subject, I did a number of quick sketches (around 20) of various sizes to try and choose a composition I liked, and then reproduced on my paper.

After a week or two of painting and it going OK, I messed up by rushing the eyes.  This particular cat has some very piercing yellow eyes, and to achieve this effect I had intended to paint a white basecoat before layering on the yellow.  Unfortunately as I was impatient, I painted the white on too thickly, and once the yellow was layered on, it looked terrible and couldn’t be recovered.  At this point I had two choices, carry on and accept that the eyes would not be what I wanted or start again.

I decided it was too much of a key feature of the cat to leave the eyes the way they were, so I bit the bullet and started again.

This time, I learned from my previous mistakes and made sure that the eyes were done as I wanted.  Once I had the basic shape and eyes done, I moved on to the fur.  As Yoda is I believe an English blue short hair, his fur is not patterned, so I focused on getting the tone as I wanted, and created a colour mix with the merest hint of blue in it for the effect.  I intended on lightening the colour a little more than was presented in the photo to provide more contrast and make things a little more interesting.

As the painting was given as a gift, I no longer have it so the only photo I have was after it was framed to give, but here he is, Yoda the cat:

I don’t think the end result is too bad, but there are a few things I don’t like very much and would improve on:

1) The right eye doesn’t look right.  Yes Yoda was squinting in the photo so it’s intentional, but I didn’t get the expression quite right, so it looks like he has a wonky eye!  Having said that, I like the colour of the eyes, and I think they do act as a focal point of the painting, even if unfortunately the shape isn’t quite what I wanted.

2) Just above Yoda’s right eye (left hand side of the painting) looks odd.  This little bump is in the reference photo, but I didn’t get this quite right either so it looks out of place.

3) The right paw (left hand side of the painting) doesn’t look right.  I wasn’t happy with this part, but after numerous attempts to improve its side and shape, I had to accept I’d got it as close as I was going to, as my friends birthday was approaching, and I couldn’t risk overworking it.

I gave my friend the present at a little get together she was having the day before her birthday, so I asked that she didn’t open it until her actual birthday to save both of our embarrassment!

Thanks for visiting,

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