View Full Version : Satin n' Sweetness WIP, opinion on background please

05-22-2013, 05:04 AM
Hi all

Although this kitten looks great in the source pic lying on all the red satin, I'm not sure that to follow it is going to work - I get the feeling that more red would be overkill. I am thinking of doing another background colour, (or just leave as is), and would love suggestions. I was even wondering about stripes, like a striped wallpaper, to mirror the stripes in kitty...but i guess it would depend on colours/value. I'm open to all ideas!

Also open to any other suggestions for kitty or the fabric, though I haven't finished him yet (his rear foot needs attending to, and the stripes on that leg). PS the shadows in the red fabric folds are much, much darker in the original print out of the source pic compared to how it appears here online, hence mine has the 'purple' shadows in the folds and is closer to the original print out of the source pic).




05-22-2013, 05:09 AM
i love this its great the colour is amazing so real how beautiful what medium
hi im harleylady im acat fan

05-22-2013, 05:13 AM
Thank you, Harley lady, it's got a way to go yet before I will be happy with it (and maybe never!).

Medium is soft pastel on pastelmat.


05-22-2013, 05:38 AM
Hi Donna, this is one cute kitten, no wonder you painted it! I love the colour scheme. One suggestion, though; with such a close-up, the camera's depth of focus is very small so the kittens's back is already blurred. The eye though adapts so we see everything in focus. My idea would be not to copy the photo but to paint it's fur as one would see it IRL. Background-wise: why not continue the red but grey it down towards the back to give the illusion of depth.

05-22-2013, 06:05 AM
I say continue on...and possibly...softening the folds as they recede. Also, look at Dianna Ponting's satin, she gets a sheen that is awesome.
Here is one.

05-22-2013, 09:40 AM
Wonderful so far. Sounds like some good advice from others. Once you get further along, if you feel too much maybe crop just a tinny bit off the top but too early to tell. Have fun. I'm off to pastel class tomorrow and hope to get help with a fish in a painting that looks like a cartoon - that sums up my talent but learning. :wave: Pam

pastel lover
05-22-2013, 04:01 PM
Great job on the face & eyes, just beautiful. On the BG, I would soften & darken the red on either side on the kitten so that line doesn't lead the eye off the painting. I would leave the gray but add some softened, dark red flecks around kitten, just to vaguely indicate the red fabric & try in front to back. I would also add a few darkened flecks of the kitten's eye color to the upper center BG. Just a suggestion, of course, looking forward to see what you decide.


05-23-2013, 05:55 AM
Thank you all for your valuable advice...satin like Diana Ponting's?! Waaaaaahhhh.......
thanks again

05-23-2013, 12:06 PM
Thank you all for your valuable advice...satin like Diana Ponting's?! Waaaaaahhhh.......

Waaahhh is right! I took a workshop with Dianna and worked on a painting with satin. I made a complete mess, so she provided some instruction...four years later I still can't do satin like she does! :lol:

05-23-2013, 12:25 PM
I think one of the most striking aspects of the photo is the contrast between the grey kitten and the red fabric, so I would continue the red above the kitten, too. It can have some gradation to make it recede into the distance, or course, as others have suggested.


05-23-2013, 04:42 PM

Lisa M
05-23-2013, 07:19 PM
What a striking composition! I'd love the painting, but I really want that kitten. . . . :heart: :D I can't wait to see the finish, especially how you tackle that satin. I'm with the crying group on that skill. :(

05-23-2013, 11:07 PM
This could be on big sob-story ...satin hanky, anyone?;)....

Tanja, thank you for your background suggestions, I *think* I get what you mean, but whether what I deliver matches the picture in your head..no matter, you'll all set me straight.

Dororthea, thanks for the advice about the fur. I guess I didn't think about that, and it's a good point about depth of field. So make it more textured, as in more definition and individual furs? (I was hoping to get away from that for once, I do so many animals, and fur can be really tedious, that it was nice to think I could go with a soft, undefined look. Still, whatever is best for the pic....

Don, thanks for your affirmation of others' advice. I do love the pastel forum...

thanks again all

05-27-2013, 08:10 AM
could you give any tips on how you got that face so real? There seems to be a big jump between pics - it went from really good to photo real.... DId you stub it or what?

05-27-2013, 10:53 AM
Melinda, the second one is the source photo.

Donna, you have done a beautiful job on that little face! So adorable! I do agree that surrounding the little guy with red will put the attention on him, where it belongs, even more than a background that is black and grey like he is. The red would also make those blue-green eyes (that you have painted so nicely) pop even more :) My only other thought is that it may be worth softening the intensity of that curved shadow behind his right shoulder (our left). I look forward to seeing the finished version!

05-27-2013, 07:04 PM
Aww cute, nicely done.


Peter Forster
05-28-2013, 03:56 PM
I'm a beginner who cannot offer advice, but I've learned stuff by reading through your thread, for what it's worth I love what you've done and look forward to seeing its completion. Peter.

05-28-2013, 11:21 PM
Hi again all
thank you so much for your compliments and advice. Grinner, I spotted that, too, and agree with you.
I've gone with the red background, will post shortly. Have a problem though with a bald patch (see another thread) in a obvious spot, so got to sort that out.
Peter, welcome! Thank you for your kind words. I feel like a beginner, too, I haven't done many pastels, this is about my 4th or 5th, if that. It's a lovely medium. Hope to see some of your work

05-29-2013, 08:40 PM
Hi all

Here is the updated version with some of your suggestions incorporated. Slight issue with the light patch of satin that his left eye is just above - there's a bald spot on the pastelmat that won't take any colour. I've had some advice as to how to fix it, but in the meantime, wanted c's and c's. Also, the picture is actually bigger than this; I cropped it for this post as I thought this would be about the size and shape, however I have plenty of room to extend it either top of kitten or below kitten, and a little on the sides, if you think it would help composition. I tried to incorporate the kitten's blue/green eye colour into the shadows in the background, however it perhaps still comes out a bit on the purple side.
I did try and put more detail in the fur, too.
thanks for looking


05-30-2013, 12:28 AM
I love his sweet face and you have captured his " kittenishness" not sure that is a word but you know what I mean!

05-30-2013, 03:44 AM
Donna this looks great, coming together really well. The bald spot you talked about, I was wondering if perhaps working it within the painting as it's causing so much agro. I know your ref photo does not have anything there but don't think it's gonna hurt by changing that area slightly

05-30-2013, 09:10 PM
Hi Twiglet
I thought about that, but wasn't sure what to do. What do you suggest?

05-30-2013, 09:15 PM
Yes, the red in the background makes it better already! And I canNOT get over how cute that face is. Such nice detail, even down to the strands of fur in the ears. :) I enjoy looking at this one.

I would offer two other thoughts: 1) there is still something about that area where the shadow is - kitty's tummy/back come forward where they should go back. I would double check against the ref photo, then brighten and fluff out the chest and all along the top of that front leg to make it clearer that those are in front. 2) I see a "V" in the background just above where the indentation is above the neck. You may have repeated that shape on purpose, but in case you did not, I feel my eye being pulled over there instead of to kitty :cat:

05-31-2013, 10:44 AM
This is beautiful Donna! I'm really not a "cat" person, but this sweetie could easily change my mind!
:clap: Kris

Avena Cash
05-31-2013, 10:47 PM
I think the red could be spectacular but it is very hard to integrate if separated in parts. I do not know how this painting will work out but I would suggest in future that you rough in the background colors all the way around much earlier--then your eye will be balancing the colors and values of the fur against the red instead of against the deep gray of the paper.

You do not always "have to" do this if you are good at visualizing the final appearance as you work and have good control of values and color but it is extremely helpful.

Anyway, notice what a soft and low-contrast salmon-y pink the red became behind the kitten? That will be more like clouds of pink compared to the bolder red of the foreground. It may be perfect if you focus on relating to that softness. Pink and gray play well against each other. That bright warm red you have in your foreground--you will barely even have cause to scratch a hint of it on at the edge of a few darks. You may also end up lightening or cooling the red you already have a wee bit when you reach the point of tying it all together. There's a lot of pink in all of that red and your kitty will stand out more :)

ETA: I only saw the first picture before I posted this! I replied to the first page only. Sorry! It's looking good in the new image!

Avena Cash
05-31-2013, 10:51 PM
I think the background is working but still wants work. The line of contrast between the pink and the dark sort of pokes the kitten in the neck. It seems like there should be less contrast back there and less of a sharp edge between anything further away like that.

06-01-2013, 12:13 AM
Thank you, Avena, I welcome your comments. I have not considered it finished, I just wanted to post the update for advice as to what to do next, particularly the background. I agree about the pink poking kitty in the neck, I will soften that down. Still need to fix that front bald patch near kitty's eye, will try some colourfix primer as has been suggested. Agree also I should have started work on the background earlier...although I had placed the pinks/reds in the foreground so I had an idea of kitty's fur. You are right, grey and pink are fabulous together...is actually my favorite eyeshadow combination (very pale pink for eyes)! LOL

06-01-2013, 09:17 AM
Its beautiful....the red background looks sooo good against the grey...


06-07-2013, 02:04 AM
Hi all

Another update, which has included various helpful suggestions sent to me. I jsut want to see if anything more needs to be done to the background before I start putting in the 'guard hairs' and whiskers and ear tufts...all the hairs that stick out of kitty and onto the red (right now the red abutts him and slightly overlaps in places). I did try and incorporate the colour in his eyes into some of the behind shadows; not sure if this obvious, if it helps, or even if it works at all! In the end I guess my fabric looks less like satin and more like a very comfy couch he's sinking into- I don't mind either way. I have still yet to deal with that bald spot in the pink highlight just under his eye (got to get to art shop for Colorfix primer).

All comments valued

06-09-2013, 07:14 PM
I think this looks wonderful already and it will be superb when he's softened into the background with the extra hairs - a lovely painting!


06-12-2013, 08:09 AM
Donna, this has turned out so well, congratulations! Fur looks great now, too. Lovely work!

06-12-2013, 10:25 PM
Background is great! I love the sense of volume, the way the kitten is sinking into that soft surface with the complete enjoyment of any cat with a good soft place to flop. You caught his character so well! He's adorable and has so much character. Can't wait to see the guard hairs and whiskers - was looking and something was off on his fur, the latest version is fuzzy but something... not... quite... right... texture on his back especially. But there it is, guard hairs, a few strokes to show the direction and establish texture.

This is fantastic. I love it. That exuberant ear, those beautiful eyes. I want to flop there with him and start waving something for him to swat at, this is such a perfect moment.

06-13-2013, 09:28 PM
Thank you, Nicole and Dorothea (I love your work).


06-13-2013, 09:36 PM
Hey Robert, so nice to see you, been a while! (unless we have just missed each other).

Thank you for your feedback; yes, it's the guard hairs, the whiskers and a bit more furry definition that is missing; I wanted to see if anyone had anymore to say about the background before I added those in.

I'm glad you related to the feeling of the kitten just sinking in to the fabric- as any cat worth his salt will do - the original pic has him on the satin, which is sort of flat, but as I went along, I wasn't doing so well trying to get the satin look, that sinking in affect started to emerge almost subconciously, and so I stopped trying to imitate the satin look (nothing like Diana Ponting's anyway!):o, and decided that kitty sinking into soft couch was a more authentic cat story than a pre-arranged cute kitty on a piece of satin (although it was the contrast between the red and grey and the cuteness that got me in the first place) and you - being the cataholic that you are - got the feeling, so thank you!
Welcome back, if you've been away, I always value your comments, and love your kitty paintings, so the comments from you are always held in high regard (and with pride!).

Donna :cat: