. . . she was a showgirl . . .
Meet Lola. She might not do the meringue at the Copa but I truly believe this gal is a showgirl.
She’s also my latest pet portrait. I haven’t painted a kitty in . . . gee, I dunno how long. No wait. I did paint some kitties on a wall a few years ago but that’s not quite the same as really getting to know an animal.
You do, you know? Get to know the pet when you’re painting or drawing him or her. You actually get a sense of their . . . I dunno . . . their ‘being’. At least, I do. It’s why I love painting animals so much.
I first met Lola last week. when her mom sent me some photos to choose from. When I saw those eyes, I didn’t have to even look at the other pics.
I debated for a bit whether to paint or draw Lola. Should I try watercolors and see if I could ‘master’ an animal with them? Or just go back to my comfortable acrylics that I’ve used for years?
I wanted Lola to have all the color and texture she could.
And I wanted those eyes in as soon as I could. They are something, aren’t they?
Now, this isn’t really a drawing tutorial per se but I can show you a few things I’ve learned. Take a look at Lola’s ears in the above photo. The ear on the left has been blended, the right shows the pencil strokes.
Now look at the ear on the right. Fairly blended, which is what you want for the ear since you’ll be adding wispy hairs at the very end.
You can use those paper stomps to blend with, or your finger, but my favorite blending tool of all is a cotton swab that’s dampened with baby oil.
I’m so glad I chose colored pencils because for a tabby they really were great to define those classic markings.
One little tip – I keep a piece of scratch watercolor paper close by so I can do color tests. I scribble a color or maybe two, then blend with a cotton swab and baby oil to see if that’s the color I want.
You can get a fairly wide range of shading just by the amount of pressure you apply. Light pressure – lighter shade. More pressure – darker.
You can lightly add pencil markings for color on the body and still add some definition by making the marks darker.
Lola’s mom left the background up to me. I chose turquoise with green accents, partly to bring out her eyes but I’d also spied some fabulous turquoise doors in her house.
I painted the background with watercolors and, wouldn’t you know, a couple minutes afterward had an extreme case of Artist’s Remorse. Not sure if that’s a thing for other artists, but it is for me.
I seriously considered starting over from scratch on a white background.
(The inside of my head is a skeery place.)
While I debated about the background I soon got lost in another area . . .
Ok, I get that when you’re just looking at a picture here, it probably looks okay. But when you have it right in front of you, with pencil in hand and photo next to paper, trying to get that pencil to make marks to that represent soft, fuzzy fur can be daunting, to say the least.
But it totally took my mind off of the turquoise background. Ha!
So I ditched the pencil for the much more familiar paintbrush.
Can you add paint to a pencil sketch? Well, I just did so I guess the answer is Yes.
Much easier to get the wispy ear hairs and those long, luxurious whiskers with a liner brush.
I could’ve kept going, penciling, blending, penciling, erasing . . . but I knew a kitty mama who wanted to see this.
I uploaded the pic, wrote a short email, took a deep breath and pressed “send”.
“I literally screamed for a sec when I opened the email. My coworkers think I’m losing it.”
I’ll take that response as a good thing.
Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there
She would merengue and do the cha-cha
It wasn’t one of my favorite tunes of Barry’s. Until now.
I don’t know if her mama intentionally did this but I have a sneaking suspicion she did. If you haven’t read Aunt Peaches yet, oh, you must.
But only if you need a giggle.
So! That’s the story of Miss Lola. And that should be the end. Dot. Period. Next painting.
Except it’s not the end.
You see, I have these friends. The kind of friends that know what’s best for you, even when you can’t see it staring you plainly in the face.
Friends that say, “you NEED to sell custom dog portraits!”
And you say, um, okay. Why not?
What’s one more Etsy shop? :D
No, seriously though, I’m really excited about this because if there’s one thing I love to paint, it’s animals. And when you can bring such joy to a pet’s owner, it’s just honestly the best thing in the world.
Why didn’t I ever pursue this in earnest? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. I’m doing it now, with the support and encouragement of some very good friends.
Including Lola’s mom.
p.s. I only have a few portraits listed in the Etsy shop, only because I couldn’t wait to share Lola. I’ll be adding more this week.