When Karen saw the Little One painting, early in November 2017, she inquired if I’d be able to do one from a cell phone photo. Karen later showed me which photo she had in mind for me to paint of her cat. It was quite […]
One commission I had this year was of a cat named Little One. This one was particularly special to do because it was my first Cat Commissioned piece. I’ve done cat paintings before, of my cats Micah and Rain, but never of others’. Not because I didn’t want to. But I just hadn’t been asked to do one, until Little One came along. I was usually asked to paint dogs. The pet parents of Little One happen to be fans of Mr. Rain, who follow him on Facebook. I share my artwork on his page along with his silliness and stories.
This painting ended up being a tremendous challenge for me, more so than I thought. I made the first mistake of not doing what I did with previous watercolor paintings: Test Mini Painting. Starting it out like that helps me to figure out what I should, and should not, do with the official painting. Instead, I went in headfirst into the official painting. In the end, I just was not happy with it. I got up to this point before I realized…. Ok this is not working out….
The first issue I had with it was the window. The original photo has a window behind him. And I thought it would add an interesting source of light. But in the end it was throwing me off. If the light is behind a subject, the back and outline would be brighter than the foreground subject. And that just won’t do to shine a light on the main subject. You want him to stand out. The window was just too distracting for me. The second issue I had was the overall color of the kitty boy himself. He was turning into a cartoon character with bold colors and that didn’t feel right. Was he an orange kind of cat? Sure. But not THAT orange. I had two photos to work with of him in that pose. One was the actual photo I was using, and the other was the same setting in a different perspective. The problem I ran into was that each photo had a different color saturation. The main photo was more bold and color saturated than the other one. I had a hard time determining which was the true color of Little One. Plus I made the mistake painting in the whites of his fur, instead of trusting the whiteness of the paper instead. It just all around looked amateurish to me.
I don’t want to give someone something I am not happy with. So I decided that I needed to start over, from the very beginning. Jo, the pet parent of Little One, was gracious enough to be open to starting over. I needed clarifications on the true color of his fur, his eyes, favorite colors (which I ask everyone), if it was ok if I did this or that instead of where I was going before. She was very helpful in providing the details I needed. The original photo was a bit blurry and super-flashed, so I needed as much information as possible, however small it was.
Now I was armed with all that I need to know for sure. I had several references, provided by Jo, of cats with similar eye colors, as it was difficult to get a clear idea of his eye color in the original photos. My favorite eye reference photo was the very bottom photo of the floofy orange cat in the below photo collage. It just seemed to be the best reference for the eyes. The second photo in the above photo, where he is looking to the side, turned out to be more true to his fur color, so I had to continuously refer to that to keep myself as consistent as possible. The kitty in the below photo with the tie is also of Little One, but with fur that was cut short, which revealed a lighter undercoat.
This time, before starting the official second painting of Little One, I did a mini test. I was not trying to do a complete mini test painting. Just until I got the point where I had a plan of how to go about painting this kitty boy. I felt more confident about this new direction, and set out to start over on the second painting.
As you saw in my first painting, I had selected a blue background. I thought having a cool color would go well against the warmth of the overall colors of the painting. So I continued on with that concept into the second painting.
But the more I worked on it, the more something bothered me. And I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly, until I took a step back and later took a glance. Then it came to me. Oh, the background color feels out of place! Oh shoot lol. No way I was going to do a third painting of Little One :p So I had to figure out how to turn the cold wall into a warm wall. I tried out various things that didn’t do very much. But after awhile I decided to just jump into it and start adding a warm grey/pale brown diluted color tones in watercolor and polychromos colored pencils. It turned out more like a….warm grey with a ting of blue glow…? Which ended up being the right call since grey was Jo’s favorite color haha (which I knew ahead of time, but I kind of forgot until I was almost finished with the painting…). I wasn’t even thinking about that when I went in that direction, so it’s kinda cool how it worked out in the end. It also made Little One stick out more, I think. It gives it a warm cuddly feeling that was almost lost with the cool of the blue.
Traditional Mixed Media painting using Faber-Castell polychromos colored pencils, Sennelier watercolors, Sennelier soft pastel chalks, and a Uni-ball Signo UM-153 gel pen on Cold Press paper.
While I was painting Little One, I was also recording videos of myself painting. I had to fiddle around with finding the right spot to position a tripod and learn to let go of that awkwardness of ‘being watched’ on video. I normally stop to take photos of my progress and make a slideshow of it, but I got tired of stopping every few minutes to take a photo, so I decided it was time to solve the video footage mystery. The videos I took of me painting Little One aren’t that great, but it was a good learning experience. After finishing Little One, I started doing some research and, mostly on YouTube, I learned how people record themselves doing artwork, or how-to videos like in cooking or crafts or unboxing stuff. It was actually pretty cool and ingenious. I ended up getting a tripod that offered more flexibility in movements and reorganized my work-space that is more efficient and feels more like an artist work-space that I can focus in. I had a hard time with that before. So, maybe you’ll see a different kind of art video from me someday. I make no promises 🙂
Jo and her husband were very very happy with it, especially when they saw it in person. What do you think of the painting of Little One?
Mr Rain doing his own bit of critiquing. I wonder what he’s thinking………
First, if you have not read this, do so now. It is what this blog post is about:
Richard Dawkins says fetuses with Down’s Syndrome should be aborted
Okay, you read all that? All set? Here we go:
I get that this is a personal choice and that people will ultimately make the decisions themselves. But I’m not here to talk about the never ending debate on abortion, as we all know what everyone thinks by now (two sides, ect). I’m here to talk about the worthiness of a life of someone, or ‘it’, as Dawkins puts it, has to live, or as a burden to society and family, when diagnosed with a challenge. I’ll be speaking from my own personal experiences relating to this.
So, I have a few friends who look up to this guy… I’ve always been a little put off by him… but so….. … I read quite a few comments on this article and it made me sad to see how people can think in such ways…. One of them said: “Richard nails it again. And yet again people get so emotional they can’t think rationally. It’s much kinder to deal with the situation this way. They won’t have a life, they’ll ruin their parents lives, and when those parents die, an even greater tragedy unfolds. All this resolved in a moment.” I just…. Just… Seriously? Have we come to this way of thinking? My jaw dropped in a gasp when I read what Dawkins had to say, and then some of the comments, such as the one I shared. Survival of the fittest. Only if it doesn’t make life harder for us (and them, I guess). It’d be like saying: Your child has physical abnormalities. She will never have a quality of life (a doctor actually said this to my parents when I was way younger). She will not go to the prom or get married or dance or sing or do this or that. Therefore, her life is meaningless, and your lives are forever ruined. I’m sorry that you’ll have to go through this.
I’m paraphrasing the parts after “Therefore”.
Has MY life been an easy one? Of course not. It isn’t supposed to be. How would I grow if it was such an easy ride? Do I ever wonder what life would be like if my physical challenge did not exist? Sure, maybe I have my moments. But then I think of the people I would not have met if I was aborted (which was never an option for my parents for any of their kids). Or, if I was not born the way I was. And it makes me sad and glad. Sad because, I wouldn’t have met the important people in my life, whether they stay or come and go, for as long or as short in my life they’ll be. And happy, because I HAVE met these people after all. Even the ones that bring sad, painful memories. I met them all for a reason.
Sometimes, people will tell me how I’ve affected their lives, and, honestly, it feels really awkward. I’ll get fidgety and at a loss of how to respond and try not to get misty-eyed, especially if it’s face to face. I guess it depends on who the person is as well. But, it also means a lot to me. It means, perhaps, there are more things to do and discover in this world that I’ve not yet done or experienced. Maybe I can inspire or help others more or make them smile. Even if I never do see them face to face. If they see my artwork, or read my story, or even better – become friends, that’s enough to keep me going.
I guess what I am trying to get at, instead of automatically thinking in the same mindset as Mr Dawkins has, I choose to have the mindset of hope and compassion. Without either, there is no purpose to a soul. In this case, an unborn baby/fetus/whatever-the-pc-term-is-nowadays.
People are always underestimating what those with physical challenges can or can’t do in having a good “quality” of life. Speaking from my own personal experience, it’s not exactly fun to be reminded by people on how different I, or anyone else with a physical challenge, looks, or is, compared to the rest of their world. People can tell me, or anyone, that by not only what they say, but also what they don’t say, what they do or don’t do, that they may otherwise have said (or not) or done (or not) differently, if I was like all the other “pretty” or outspoken super confident women out there. Sometimes that motivates me to prove them wrong. Sometimes it just wears me out in a way where I’m just tired of trying to prove my worth to the world. Just give me a chance to be me without having the need to show you that there is more to me than people usually think. People think I don’t see it when it happens, but I most always do. Even if I don’t call attention to it (hardly ever). It’s the Silent Reminder. It’s not fun to go through.
I suppose reading Dawkins comments, and other comments in agreement with him, brought a bit of frustration out of me. I’m sorry, but I can’t stand mentalities that Dawkins and others share.
People born with mental and/or physical challenges always have a potential to have a good quality of life. It may not always be the Societal Standards of a Good Life, but that’s okay. Everyone is different.
So all I have left to say is:
Give people a chance.
Thank you for reading.
I recently finished a new art piece, simply titled “Tyler”. It was first commissioned to me late last year after someone saw a drawing portrait I did, in charcoal, of my brother and my now sister-in-law, on Facebook. She knew, in general, that she wanted a portrait done of her fiancee’s dog. It was just a matter of choosing the right photo that would make the great painting. There was one with Tyler’s owner, sitting next to him near the water one day at their favorite beach. It was his favorite photo. The problem was the subjects were too far away from the camera for me to feel comfortable about using it as a painting piece. Then I saw a close up of Tyler that showed, I thought, his personality very well. Sure, there was a person right next to the dog, but I could take her out in the painting. So after we agreed to use that photo and what size it would be and such, I started the picture.
Believe it or not, the toughest part about painting this one was the water.. Maybe I did not have the right amount of various colors to choose from, or something.. But I seemed to have difficulty getting the right color. It was blue green, brownish, blue, grey… A mix! AAAHH! In the end, I think it turned out quite well. After working on the sky, the water, the sand (in that order), I worked on the main subject – Tyler! It was fun watching him come to life right before my eyes. One of the last things I painted before doing the finishing touch ups was his tongue. It literally started out as a purple tongue. It tickles me to think that. Maybe it’s the art geek inside me haha. I just love how it stands out from all the yellow, brown, and blue colors.
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Soft Pastel Chalk on pastel board size
18 x 24 inches
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Tyler Vs Tyler
Also I completely forgot to share this outside of Facebook but I did two other paintings last year. One was a homemade gift exchange with my sister for Christmas. She made me an afghan of my choice of colors, while I did a painting (of her choice in subject and size).
Sister wanted a willow tree in autumn, with certain favorite colors and certain favorite flowers (I chose to portray hydrangeas, which is perfect for fall/autumn). Time of day was up to me. And she liked streams. The rest was up to me to figure out on how to portray her “simple” criterias.
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The Willow Tree
About 20 hours in soft pastel chalk on board size 24 x 36 inches
Completed on the morning of Christmas Day 2012 (it was a challenging picture………).
The other piece was a personal painting that I needed to express myself with:
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Soft Pastel Chalk on paper board about 15 by 12 inches
When I drew the fairy and came up with the concept, I was feeling down about stuff. I just felt like I just wanted to be free and dance… Dancing can be freeing.
So, she is dancing from the dark, into the light. Light as a feather (well, maybe almost hehe).
Arms stretched out behind her, wind blowing her away. It must be a freeing peaceful experience, full of color and life.
Sorry to all those who don’t follow me on Facebook! It just completely passed my mind heh. Well so now you can see two others I have done last year.
So I know I don’t exactly have a Portfolio spot on my website. You would have to sift through my blog in order to see the artwork I have done so far and I don’t think that makes it very enjoyable (unless you like doing a lot of reading…). One of these days I will redo my website (yesssss I want to redo again haha…) and have a straight up spot to showcase the art. I’ll probably still use the Blog, but it will be nice to have the artwork in one organized place, you know?
If you notice, on the right side of the website, there is a website called DeviantArt.com. Some of you may already know about it, but others, not so much. It’s mainly a place for artists, beginner or professional, to share, and sometimes sell, their artwork. If you want to comment on a picture you need an account (it’s free to sign up). It’s not quite necessary to sign up if you already follow me on Facebook, since I post the same things on there anyways. Just, for now, it’s more convenient to have a portfolio on there for my website. You can even see some very old pictures I’ve done when I was first dabbling in the world of digital art (uh, yeah, I’ve come a lonnnggg way haha). Just click on “Gallery” next to “Profile” to see my artwork (next to PetraRaain). And click on each picture for a bigger view and info, if I wrote anything on them.
Of course, you can still comment directly on here if you wanted to. Just to give you some options that’s all.
I don’t plan on updating or changing my website again, though, until I figure some things out in my life. I might be going through some major changes. But, I won’t know if it will actually happen until I take the big step in really finding out if it’s the right thing to do or not. I’m not quite sure if I am ready to share it with the entire world just yet…. I think I should wait until I have some solid answers first. Why bring it up if I don’t actually do anything about it? That’s what I think. It’s kinda a scary thought, but it will bug me for the rest of my life if I don’t try. Just so I can never say to myself “What if I tried?” as I get older. Some of you already know what I am talking about, as I’ve only shared it with a few close friends and family.
As far as future artwork is concerned: I am opened to do a commissioned piece. It does not have to be strictly animal. It can be people, or people and animals, or something fantasy or… Anything…. Until I get another commission, I will be working on other personal projects that I have in mind to paint. A lot of it is redoing old pieces (to make them better) or finishing concepts that have come from inside, whatever the reasons they are, or things or people who have inspired me to express myself in a certain way.
I hope the start of 2013 is going well for you all.
Til next time….