View Full Version : Black Cat- Pastel ACCEPTED- Ken Tiessen

04-22-2015, 01:05 PM
In this memorial portrait of her black cat, the client gave me a lot of freedom to develop a creative direction of my own, and for this I am appreciative. She loved the color of the cat's eyes, an emerald green, so I developed this arrangement to emphasize them- most of the elements were created in the initial color sketch. The actual reference of the cat was very washed out, and I added in a lot of color. Working at the very darkest end of the value scale is difficult in pastel, but I was happy with the color, edges, and textures that resulted. She's not seen either the sketch or finish yet, so wish me luck!


water girl
04-22-2015, 07:20 PM
Ken, I hope Robert will drop by today, because he'll really like this one. I have to admire your color choices here. Playing with the peach tones, the greens and spots of blue are brilliant. Painting a black cat or dog is ridiculously difficult, but you've run with it. Nicely done!

04-22-2015, 08:03 PM
Great pastel Ken

04-22-2015, 08:40 PM
It's beautiful! I believe your client will cherish it. ♥

04-22-2015, 10:09 PM
Very nice Ken, I'm sure she will love it

04-23-2015, 12:12 AM
Great memorial portrait! Great looking cat, looks masculine with his small ears, wide face and solid strength. Love the textures and values, you got his black nose perfect - my cat's nose is also black on black, that cute look of a dull highlight over quizzical muzzle is fantastic. Lots of expression. This is a true portrait, every individual quality of features and expression enhanced. I think your client will be in love.

04-23-2015, 07:37 AM
Beautiful portrait! You did a great job on those eyes and in showing the sheen of the fur with its warm highlights. A very minor crit is that the leaves and vase are just a bit confusing (although you've done a beautiful job on both!) because I can't tell if the leaves are behind the wall, or if they belong to a plant in the vase, the top of which is even with the top of the wall (if that is a rim on the vase). If the leaves are coming from a plant behind the wall, I think I'd go ahead and make more shadows on the wall above the rimless vase. If they come from the vase, a suggestion would be to add a couple of stems connecting the plant leaves to the vase, maybe extending diagonally across the corner.

04-23-2015, 08:28 AM
🍀beautiful and interesting!It looks like this is a story .

04-23-2015, 08:34 AM
Beautiful. Love the composition and colors and textures. The cat's right leg might be off and the inner part of the eyes don't seem to go down enough. I may be wrong.

04-23-2015, 08:46 AM
Ken, a departure for you, no? I'm used to your beautiful landscapes.
Your cat is lovely. Something is bothering me about the mouth? Of course, I haven't seen the cat but it strikes me as small? Just an observation. I'm not a cat person.
I would love to see the reference. And no tail? Did I miss it? Fur is just beautiful.

04-23-2015, 09:32 AM
Your colors are beautiful.


04-23-2015, 01:48 PM
Hi Karen- Thanks and I hope he sees it! The reference was essentially colorless and all color was invented in the sketch- so glad I did that. It allowed me to play with that, and experiment. Check out this revision image- it has some careful refinements and the values should be closer to the actual work- the first was too light. Dark things are touchy to paint and shoot!


04-23-2015, 01:48 PM
Thanks Scott!

04-23-2015, 01:50 PM
Hi Barbara- Thank you! This one has great drama and I hope she does, too.

04-23-2015, 01:51 PM
Deanna- Thank you! We'll know soon-

04-23-2015, 01:55 PM
Hi Robert- Thanks very much! I hope we are there- I've done some small refinements all over after some review of her information- it's really tricky to get the super darks in and keep them, as they come only from a big stick. I really appreciate your comments! Here is just the cat showing subtle changes-


04-23-2015, 01:59 PM
Hi Blayne- I see what you mean- that alignment is deliberate but a bit close. What I've done in the revision (see above) is to alter the value and surface-- smooth the area a bit with lights to help separate and smooth the surface. Hopefully this helps- do you think it does?

04-23-2015, 02:02 PM
Hello Jiemin- Thank you! She did not provide too much, so the story here is my expression of cats-- they are like this... enigmas.

04-23-2015, 02:05 PM
Hi Mary- Thanks for your comments! It was poor reference (point and shoot flash, you know). I've done some revision and worked a bit all over, but including the legs and eyes. The eyes shapes were very close in the first, so I brought them a bit closer. What do you think?

04-23-2015, 02:28 PM
Hi Jay- In what way? I'm happy to have painted many things in commissions including a babies, boats (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1256602), a rabbit (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1120692), dogs (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=620882)- I could go on. It keeps the work interesting and certainly challenging.

I've done a revision making some subtle changes all over, including the eyes, nose, mouth- made the tail a bit clearer (lower right very dark), etc. The reference was pretty washed out shot with a point and shoot flash, so all color is created.

Here is a detail showing just the cat-


04-23-2015, 02:32 PM
Ken, I guess I was always struck by the beautiful landscapes and never knew about the other talents!!
I like you revision very much. GOOD job!

04-23-2015, 02:39 PM
Jay- I really appreciate that! I feel that staying challenged and taking on everything (I do mean everything!) builds strong skills and versatility. It can be sometimes a bit overwhelming, so one has to watch for that. Thanks for your comments about the revision.

If you look at my profile (clicking on my name at the top of a post), there is a link to an 'all threads started'- many of mine are portraits (mostly people, but... you know!).

04-23-2015, 04:00 PM
I know what you mean about the challenge. That's why I did the copy after Hndell....with rocks.....???

And I have seen and admired your portraits, of course.

04-23-2015, 07:13 PM
This is lovely Ken!
I love the light on the fur - notoriously difficult as said previously in this thread, but you did a fab job - a beautiful warm painting.:clap: :clap:

04-24-2015, 01:05 AM
You have really captured a black cat they are a little different. He looks very much like mine except mine has a small patch of white under his chin and more yellow green eyes but it is his wide eyed stare. Really well done.

04-24-2015, 10:43 AM
Jay- It is a good path! Handell's work is great- his simplification and interpretation makes him an excellent artist to study. I'm glad you're familiar with my portraits- more progress to come.

04-24-2015, 10:47 AM
Thank you Jilly! Pastel does so many great things- working at this very low range of darks was a good experience (for now!)

04-24-2015, 10:50 AM
Hi Jen- I appreciate your kind comments! The shifts between the deepest of darks and the next lightest were very sensitive- the super darks being easily lost. Terry Ludwig has a few intense darks that were very helpful in this one!

ural jones
04-26-2015, 02:20 PM
Quite honestly, I like both images. In the lighter image, you have bounced the light off the floor and off the jar to reflect nice color onto the fur.
The second image is a nice one also. I believe the darker shadows are very well chosen and this is a very nice memorial for your client.
I had a black cat when we lived in the mountains. That cat tried to attack a bear that she thought was after me!
The Vet. said he wasn't surprised.
My cat looked like this cat and you did a beautiful job of reminding me of her!
Thanks for showing us.

04-27-2015, 12:09 PM
Ural- Thanks! Having the image match closely is always a challenge, and neither has the exact effect of the original. I've seen that in other settings, and just come to accept the fact- it does make the real thing more exciting to see in person, and an excellent reason to own original art.

04-27-2015, 05:08 PM
Ken, you've done a simply terrific job! I think the revision really makes the cat stand out.

Throughout my life, I've usually had at least one black cat. They each had wonderful personalities, so I can understand your client wanting a permanent memento. She will love this!

04-27-2015, 05:57 PM
Terrific image Ken!

04-28-2015, 12:25 PM
Hi Blayne- Thank you! The revisions were relatively small- the second images reflect an adjustment in the image to better reflect what the art really looks like.

I take it over this morning, so I hope she does!

04-28-2015, 12:26 PM
Marcus- Thanks! Much appreciated-

04-30-2015, 09:13 AM
The portrait was delivered yesterday, and she was very happy! How well the client accepts and connects with the work is a significant measure of how well I've reached that mark- one that I never take for granted. She has bought a several of my works through a gallery, but this piece was the first of several potential portraits that were being considered. I am grateful she enjoys what I do- a new client!

04-30-2015, 09:37 AM
I like the revisions and love the way you showed the black cat in the shadows, letting it be a low key painting instead of something high contrast. That is so beautiful and the quirks of that cat's features are so unique I know you've got a true likeness. Love that little tilt to the head. That's a loving black cat. Makes me think of getting a second cat if I had the space, though that wouldn't be fair to Ari. I always liked black cats.

04-30-2015, 02:18 PM
Congratulations, Ken! I'm so glad she liked your beautiful painting--and you have a dedicated client!

Robert, you can't go wrong with a black cat! Ari might love a little female (spayed, of course) companion.

04-30-2015, 05:31 PM
Congratulations Ken. So nice to be appreciated.

05-01-2015, 09:20 AM
Hi Robert- Thank you! I do work to evoke feeling in the paintings and have learned to trust instinct more- I'm glad you like it. She was all of those things from the conversations I shared with the client. Every cat is something of a mystery-

05-01-2015, 09:27 AM
Hello Blayne- Thanks! Sales can take place out of the blue, but good relationships with clients don't just happen- especially when it comes to commissions. I do everything I can, both creatively and from a business perspective, to build the best possible.

05-01-2015, 09:29 AM
Hi Jay- Thank you! It is always a wonderful validation that I'm doing the right things.

05-01-2015, 10:03 AM
Congratulations, Ken! I knew she would love it. It's a beautiful painting. Here's to more commissions and happy clients. :thumbsup:

05-01-2015, 03:38 PM
Hi Barbara- I appreciate it. Truly- I never take this for granted. Especially that the direction and painting was entirely finished when she first saw it, and the finish looks nothing like the reference (other than, of course, the pose and details of the cat itself). Thanks for your encouragement!