May 16, 2010

Oh, those lovely Colors!

Turvy - crop (5 x 7 pastel) sold

When an artist uses colors correctly, it makes our eyes yearn to view the image again and again. It’s addictive. Suzanne Berry’s painting, "Ciree" is such a fine example of the skilled use of color!

Biscuit is often referred to as a black and white cat. Ha! I am pretty certain I have used nearly every color in my pastel box to get all the colors in her fur correctly represented. There is not much restraint here as I start pouring them onto one of my favorite pastel papers; Sennelier La Carte.

Once the patches of color are established with Unison and Diane Townsend pastels, I use NuPastels to blend them together and to define the fur. I don’t want to overdo the blending process; otherwise the colors will turn muddy and lose their sparkle. Eventually, I work over the entire painting, defining shapes, adjusting value and color as needed.

I will intentionally leave some of the edges undone and fuzzy to give the viewer’s eyes some resting spots and to allow her to participate in filling in the blanks. I also add a few token hairs and/or whiskers to give the “feel” of fur without actually putting in every hair. Each painting tends to dictate just how much detail is required to make the story believable. I err on the side of less is better.

This is the uncropped version of the painting:

Purrs, Sandy.


  1. She's beautiful! Love how her fur reflects on the polished wood floor, and the bright glints in her eye. So much personality.

  2. Wow, Sandy, you're good! Purr away because you deserve it... Not only is this a gorgeous bit of artwork, but your words have painted a beautiful image as well. I especially like what you said about allowing the viewer to "participate in filling in the blanks". You do this as well as any artist I've seen. (Thanks for mentioning Suz, who is another of my favorite artists.)


  3. I love the way you have handled the colour and hair Sandy, you have a lovely touch.

  4. Sandy this is amazing! My sister has asked if I would draw her friend's cats for a birthday present and I was going to use pastel too, as I did with the dogs. Your posts on cats will be a huge help to me as to how I should go about it, so thank you so much for sharing!

  5. R,thank you for stopping by and for the kind comment about Miss Biscuit. She is a little purr-body!

    Don, Love that "wow" and thanks for such a nice compliment.

    Sam, thank you - hope you get a chance to see the latest post :).

    Hi Sandra, I am so glad this post will be helpful. I have a LOT of cat paintings on my website and some links to youtube videos under the LEARN tab (on my website so hopefully you'll find something helpful there, too.

  6. I love your artwork, and have seen lots of it in magazines. Your comment on my thread in was very appreciated and such a wonderful surprize!!! All your calves are great, and love your cats---and all your work!

  7. Thanks so much, Ida. That is so kind of you!

  8. Realistic and beautiful! I like the light on the cat + the painting reminds me of our neighbour's cat which we all loved... Great works!