So often I am asked to paint a cat portrait after the animal has died – whether by accident or old age. It is true that one does not usually give much thought to capturing its spirit and character whilst the pet is still alive and thriving, although my good friend Carrie has commissioned me to do several portraits – both dog and cat portraits – of her numerous pack. Obviously an avid animal-lover, she is also extremely generous in her gifts of dog and cat portraits to friends of hers, and I am lucky enough to be commissioned to paint them. This latest portrait is of Lotte, a much loved cat who was unfortunately killed in the prime of her life in Australia, where she lived. Her owner is a life-long friend of Carrie, who thought that a cat portrait might help to ease the passing of her beloved companion as well as being a lovely reminder of the good times they had together.
Pet portraits for me – especially dog and cat portraits – are all about capturing the animal’s character and spirit rather than getting every hair or whisker correct. This time I was lucky enough to have a fairly good photo from which to work. I tend to leave the backgrounds fairly loose and abstract as it’s the animal that’s the central figure. The bench worked well and the garden setting was just indicated with a little green. Most importantly, getting the white “moustache” correct was vital – and it seems I succeeded as the owner was delighted to receive this surprise cat portrait all the way from Antigua (FedEx is so useful for sending artwork – as Carrie just sent the paper with stiff backing and without any mount, the cost is minimal).
I must say I really love painting cat portraits: each one is a challenge as more often than not I have never seen the subject in question – and also, more often than not, I have to work from bad or very low res photos. The same goes for dog portraits. But this cat portrait was a success and I enjoyed painting it.
Watercolour 12×16″ 30x40cm