Theo, cat portrait. 12×8 inches in pastel

So it is a bit of a rarity to get cat paintings, so it is a real treat to get some. Last year I had quite a few commissions of cats at the beginning of the year, but this year has been quiet on the cat front, apart from Daisy, watercolour portrait I had in January.

So this week it is all about the the cats. I have this one, Theo, and a triple cat painting, Leo, Tottie and Rosie. Let’s see if I can get confused over Leo and Theo. I bet I do. It is confusing enough having a son called Leo and a dog called Luke, bearing in mind both their names begin with ‘L’ I am always getting them confused. They don’t even sound the same unlike Leo and Theo!

Theo is a beautiful black and white cat and they wanted a portrait of him sleeping. I don’t often paint sleeping animals, most people like their eyes in, but as this is the position they remember Theo being in the most this is what they opted for. It reminds me of my Murray, he lies like this, normally over my laptop, preventing me working hahaha!

Here is the reference photo for his portrait and it will be in pastels, and we will be replacing the grey rug with some sort of blanket I think. Something that looks a little nicer.

I didn’t quite get round to finishing Theo’s sketch yesterday. The beauty of doing per portraits from photos is you can change certain elements, such as what they are lying on, for example, in Theo’s portrait as I discussed yesterday. Ears can be brought forward and eyes opened. Older animals made to look younger.

I haven’t really sketched out the background yet, I think I will think about that more as his painting progresses. But below you can see the sketch. I have outlined the bits where he is white, in white and black in black, just to make sure there is no confusion when I start filling him in.

I would like to really get some good progress made on him tomorrow and I also the same with Leo, Tottie and Rosie. See now I wanted to say Theo! I am going to have to really think as I type whilst working on these cat portraits.

Today has been the first day I have really managed to settle into anything for a while. My life has been one big roller coaster ride with all sorts going on.

I have started blocking in Theo’s portrait and I hope with a good, well better session with painting tomorrow I will get quite a bit more done. It’s really lovely to visit the cat portraits again. I am also craving a horse portrait, so I have something in mind to be done for general sale and prints! Watch the blog space!

Any back to Theo’s portrait, the more I think about it, the more I am liking the idea of a reddish blanket, something similar to the colour background I used for Molly’s portrait

I shall email my client and see what she thinks about the idea. Anyway below you can see the progress I have made today. Most of the outlines re-established and the blocking in process started. The whites on Theo are warm whites, so I have been using warm greys and raw umber for the base with the white highlights to go on later.

Well my week of dramas continues, but finally I have grabbed some painting time which is lovely and always, without fail makes me feel a whole lot better.

I made a return to Theo’s portrait today and have managed to finish on the blocking in and add most of the details. All the white whisps of fur and so on. I am pretty much firmly stuck on the idea of the reddish blanket as I mentioned earlier in the blog. I have emailed my client with this suggestion and I am waiting to hear back. While I wait I am going to make a start on Leo, Tottie and Rosie. Sometimes I feel like a blank sheet of paper with just an outline drawing quite a daunting task, but once I get those first basic strokes in and outlines established again I feel much better.

Below you can see how Theo’s portrait has progressed.

All the final details will now be added to his portrait when the background has been put in.

Finally managed to grab another couple of good sessions the last couple of days on Theo, yippeeeeee! The discussed the background colour with my client and she decided she wanted something that was paler than the red, more of duck egg blue. So I blocked this in today.

I was looking for a dreamy, floaty effect with it as Theo is sleeping. To make him look soft and comfy, a bit how we feel in bed I guess. I think I have achieved it. My client certainly seems pleased with it. Unfortunately the scan has showed the shadows between his fur a little darker than they are in reality. I have taken a second look and whilst they aren’t as dark as the scan is showing, I did feel they needed lightening somewhat, so I have done that. I need to rescan it tomorrow show my client, but I will share the current scan with you in the meantime.

Pastel portrait of cat on blue blanket

I think you will agree it does look too dark here. I am looking on an un-calibrated monitor now, on the list to do, but it definitely needs tweaking on the scan and in real life as well. although the actual portrait isn’t as dark as this!

I think this scan is a much better representation of Theo’s portrait. I have sent it over to my client and hopefully she is pleased with it.

I think you will agree it looks much better.

Final scan of Theo's portrait
Theo