View Full Version : WIP--critique or suggestions welcome!

08-26-2013, 09:38 PM
This is my first cat... about half done-ish. I just finished working on a pastel using the Mi-Tientes Touch and really liked it, but for this I went back to regular smooth sided Mi-Tientes, and I feel like I really overworked it and now it's driving me a bit insane.


Particularly would love any suggestions for depicting black fur... trying very hard to avoid using black, but ended up using more of it than I wanted and I feel like that muddied up the area, but am unsure of how to fix it. Tempted to just toss the whole thing and go get some Touch paper tomorrow to start over.

I might be less irritated if my own cats hadn't puked in my studio this morning... sigh...

08-26-2013, 09:46 PM
This is looking good! I don't see anything even remotely muddy. Keep going and I'm sure it will come out fine!


08-26-2013, 11:08 PM
using black to do an area that is solid black (fur) won't muddy things - adding black as a means to darken an area will but in this case you should be fine. Adding highlights and areas where the black gets lighter (perhaps with blues or cool colours) could really help.

The biggest problem I see at this point is the viewer's right chin/eye which if you look carefully at your reference appears to be quite wide. This will ultimately distort your perspective if you don't address it before you go too much farther.

so far so good!

Kathryn Wilson
08-26-2013, 11:09 PM
I see a lot of blues in the black of the photo - take another look.

08-26-2013, 11:57 PM
I certainly wouldn't be throwing this one out!

As Kathryn says, there are blues in the photo - try some deep deep blues or purples for the shadowed areas in the black fur and lighter blues for the sheen/highlights. I'm also seeing blues and purples in the white fur, so you should get some nice unity there :)

Don't forget - value does the work, colour gets the glory - if your values are correct you can use some artistic licence with the colours - looking forward to seeing this one finished :)


08-27-2013, 04:01 AM
I'm moving this to the studio as that is where all pictures/WIPS should be...but don't worry, I'm leaving a redirect in Pastel Talk - just in case!

08-27-2013, 09:29 AM
Thanks folks! And Justin, thanks for pointing out the spot by the chin/eye--I see exactly what you mean and might have missed that 'til too late. :)

I'm feeling like I don't have enough really good deep darks to draw on... I've been using a purply-blue as suggested in the black, but I still don't think it's quite deep enough. I think that and the 30% off coupon I just got in the mail for the local art store are a clear indicator that I should go shopping...

08-27-2013, 09:33 AM
You're off to a great start. Your question about the black fur brought to mind this dog painting done by Deborah Secor that I always admired, especially how she used the purples and blues to enhance the black


Hope you'll post the finished piece.

08-27-2013, 09:54 AM
Good work so far! I agree about the far side of the face, great that it can be easily remedied. If your blues/purples aren't dark enough you could use black as a base and then put the colour over. The black should darken it considerably but it won't "just" be black.

08-27-2013, 09:27 PM
Thanks again for the suggestions! Think I'm mostly finished, although again, any additional critique is very welcome. :)


08-28-2013, 12:27 AM
Hi MarvelousSauce
I think you are doing a good job, but agree about pushing the darks. I too see blue in the fur. It can take a little while to get the hang of it so keep practicing.
Here is a picture I did of a black lab puppy. You can see my use of blue and also eggplant/dark magenta in the fur. I did use a little black, but only selectively, and it was always under or over something really, really dark like a dark charcoal or a really dark olive green. As was mentioned, it's the values that matter.

One way to check your values is to print out your photo of your painting in black and white and compare it to the reference picture. You will see instantly where your pic needs to be adjusted-usually much darker than you thought. This method isn't fail-safe, as photos are not always accurate - I seem to recall Jackie saying something about photos making shadows appear darker than they are (or something to that end), but it can still be an enormous help.

Still think you've done a pretty good job.

08-28-2013, 07:53 AM
Thanks! There actually is a lot of blue and reddish/purple/eggplant in the fur, but it's not coming through much in the cell phone pic again... will have to see if I can try bumping up the saturation on the image on my computer or something to show that more clearly.

08-28-2013, 10:07 AM
This turned out beautiful, I think you've resolved your issues extremely well. Using black in black fur works so long as you use color with it, and it seems you've figured that out. Sometimes getting an accurate photo of the artwork is harder than the actual painting, I go through great pains to get that right! Again, beautiful painting!

08-28-2013, 11:40 AM
lovely. i especially enjoy the delicate white whiskers over top of the dark fur. This is a secondary focal point to me (after the lovely eyes).

The only suggestion I would make (for next time) would be to try to have more interaction with the background. It doesnt have to be fully developed or anything but something to tie the foreground with the background would be a nice touch.

08-28-2013, 01:16 PM
Thanks! Justin, that's definitely something I'd like to work on... I really like drawing animals, and find background stuff boring in comparison, so I do tend to just ignore its existence... but I definitely recognize how much more interesting it would be to have something other than just flat colour there. I'm about to start working on my first entire piece--a horse looking out of a barn door--in order to force myself to actually do all that boring stuff of wood and greenery and snow. ;)

08-29-2013, 07:49 PM
Lovely finish - glad you persevered with this one!


08-29-2013, 08:12 PM
Sarah, you pulled the right side of the face in and got back a marvelous depiction of the cat's expressive face...well done!! :thumbsup: