View Full Version : Sunday Morning WIP

04-25-2007, 01:44 AM
This weekend I went to my sister's to faux finish her bath. On Sunday I was able to get this photo ref to do a pic of her cat Fabio

I already know I'm reaching over my skills a bit, so I'm being brave and posting it as I go, tho I have no idea if I can pull it off. I know there will be many who can help me so here goes

What I want to capture...the special morning light, and the very special realationship she and her cat have.

Stage One: Initial lay in with drawing
did a more detailed drawing than usual as it is so complicate. Based the composition on triangles, that are everywhere, and emphasized that by altering a lot of the shapes, in subtle ways. so the painting will not exactly follow the photo. Plan on simplifying the drapery and fur, going for less is more, and not doing every hair and wrinkle, a slightly more painterly style without letting the style become the subject either.
16x20 pastelbord, mixed soft, hard and pastel pencil
for the lay in I put on pastel and then used water, but kept it very light and fluid, so it looks just like watercolor, I need to be able to see the drawing thru it.

thanks for C and C especially anyone who's done white drapery!

04-25-2007, 01:55 AM
Here are some details of the layin wash. this could be done in watercolor, but I find doing pastels is just as easy and gives me a chance to try out colors I may use, as well as letting me make more subtle changes as I go. Once its wet down it stays in place and doesnt mix that much with more layers as long as you are light with it. ;)

About now I'm wishing I was Merethe, and could just draw it on and do it corner to corner, I am completly unable to work that way I've tried, it looks so much more organized and sure than my building up and poking around. However, it's just how I am and so I have to go the way I do and hope for the best.:smug:
Detail 1, I've tried to show the "watercolor"
Detail 2, looks like I might be able to "paint" some of the fur without having to draw it all on...well see at least this is a trial

My Best,Colleen

04-25-2007, 02:05 AM
Stage 2
I just spent 3 hours on the top few inches and the confounded white sheet. I started there because I cant face the stripes I will have to do for the pillow. I would have left them off, but the texture will be needed I think and if I can pull it off will set off the fur, skin and white sheet, (if I ever get that done:evil:)
I'm working to keep my sisters face and the upper parts in shade, as the cat will be the main actor in this scene. so everything will have to subordinate to that....I have 3 ref photos, with a nice wide awake cat, but chose a sleepy eyed look to match my sister sleeping and there is a beautiful glint of light in one of Fabio's eyes if I can ever do that. The cat will be easy compared to this dang sheet.

Donna T
04-25-2007, 07:18 AM
Colleen, this is awesome! I really like the subject and especially your composition. Great drawing too, that's always half the battle. Your initial wash with the pastels looks good enough to hang as a watercolor ( I really like that style). This is coming along very nicely and I'm sure you won't struggle too much with that white sheet. How do you like the pastelboard? I've never tried it but it sure would be nice to do an underpainting on something somewhat affordable that doesn't warp.

Donna T

Piper Ballou
04-25-2007, 09:52 AM
Colleen, what a compositon, this will be outstanding, and a very natural pose. I like what you have done so far.
I think you are best not to paint "corner to corner' on this piece, you will stay looser if you do an overall painting, at least that is what I find with my paintings,
looking forward to seeing the progress on this one, glad you posted it as a WIP

M Douglas
04-25-2007, 10:22 AM
This is looking great, the undercoat could easily have stood on its own. Can't wait to see the finish!!


04-25-2007, 10:35 AM
I already know I'm reaching over my skills a bit
That is one of the silliest things I've ever heard! This is truly a wonderful piece of work you are creating. Your composition is lovely, your underpainting is dead on in value, I love how you are playing with the washes (something that I am not brave enough to try yet) to achieve texture, and your soft sense of light is really striking and really going to add so much to this. I love how you have captured the fabric. I'm going to be following this one, and no more self doubt! If we didn't get a little brave from time to time then we would never get anything accomplished. You are most definitely getting this accomplished!

04-25-2007, 10:48 AM
Hi Colleen,

Fabulous - I looked at the first posting and was just smiling away. I have a similiar photo of my sis and her can in the evening light but never tackled it - now you are inspiring me!!!

Darks... I'm thinking you are going to want to darken her face a whole lot. As I squint down I don't see shadow - I see mid-tones. It's going to serve to frustrate you - remember you can always add the lighter colors as you build (or at least i think you can - never tried pastelboard before).

See where her cheek is at least as dark as the cheek of the cat - that's where you are aiming.

I'd be proud to have this as my own and I agree with QueenBart - you are never reaching over your skills - just laying down new ground!!!

Wow~~~ Keep us posted. Oh and the fabric - SUPERB!!!


04-25-2007, 01:41 PM
How wonderful to wake up and find such great encouragment as I face this work this morning....how did I ever do this before joining WC!:wave:
Barb re the Darks....Since I don't know how to "do" pastels, I've noticed its hard to get the lights clean if I get too dark to quick, and I will watch the cheek I didn't see that...to my eye the greatest contrast areas are the hair and the top of the cats head and the back of the cat, since that area is near the edge I will soften that an play up the other as that's where I want the attention. Have to disagree on the fabric... it's too stiff, and I can't seem to get the light to "travel" thru it...ie where the highlight is and then the shadow, the shadow should fill with some light shining inside that space...sorry words are hard to use, you get what I mean..it's puffed up there and in the space light would gather and create a glow of sorts. this is where it would be great to work from life, also having trouble finding pastels of the right tones to use
QueenBart I like your attitude, I wish I had it! maybe I can borrow yours:)
Piper I really spent a long time on the composition. adjusting folds and overlaps in very specific ways to create movement...a lot was suggested in the photo, but needed tweaking, I spent nearly a day before I got it, now the challenge will be to keep it going with the color and values
Donna I love pastelbord, maybe because that's mostly what I've used, I do sketch a bit on colorfix but it is so much slicker and fills up so fast, it will however take water, but the pastelbord also solves my framing, which I do directly on museum glass, and it's economical because if I really don't like the end product it can be scrubbed off and used again.

04-25-2007, 03:28 PM

I'll be happy to let you borrow it, as long as I can have it back by Friday! I'm going to take a dive on my challenge, a portrait of 2 children, and I don't do people *gulp* I swallowed my fear last week when I did my boss's wife on her horse but the face was so small it wasn't critical to be detailed, plus it was in heavy shadow. This one will be just the opposite. I got your back if you get mine when I post WIP. Thankfully, everything that I have had to walk up to the edge and dive into has worked out, I just have to kind of catch myself off guard with it, if that makes any sense, and it may not as it's a difficult thing to do*lol* Keep up the good work, I'll be following your progress :-)

04-25-2007, 08:32 PM
I think it's a really nice work. I love the blues and how the colors are working so well together. The cat's face is superb. I'd slightly soften the dark line on the upper lip of the women -- possibly a redder tone (your sister?), but otherwise, I think it's wonderful...


04-25-2007, 08:54 PM
right now the only part I've worked up is the sheet, everything else is just underpainted, when I get to my sister, I'll keep what you said in mind, tricky part is to make sure she stays in shadow in the background, won't really know how to make that tone until part of the cat is done...thanks for your comment

04-25-2007, 08:55 PM
its a deal! QueeenB

04-25-2007, 11:19 PM
I am joining the audience here....looking fab so far!

04-26-2007, 12:22 AM
I love this intimate little scene, it's going to be gorgeous! Coming along really well, looking forward to more....

04-26-2007, 12:48 AM
OK here is today's work

I spent 3 hours more on the sheet, ( see sheet try) then decided it was too busy and took it out some and worked another hour...also tried a sketch of the actual sheet from the photo, used white colorfix and just put in the shadow pattern, this helped me understand some of the shadows are not folds but cast shadow from another fold. It however did not help me much when I went back to the work. The big problem is I changed the photo and since I have little experience with white sheets, I don't know how to fake it right either., at any rate hopefully when the cat gets done it won't matter so much, I'm thinking of going to the still life forum for help, tho for this piece I will accept it pretty much as it is, after all the sheet is not the focal point.,
But oh my during the struggle, I could see just how exquisitely beautiful a white sheet in the light is!
final attachment is the current stage where I'm begining to start on the cat.
thank you everyone for looking and comments
My Best,

04-26-2007, 01:02 AM
This is looking great so far, what a nice scene, something different and captivating. That cat's gaze has caught me already, lol!

04-26-2007, 01:19 AM
thanks, the cat is easy compared to that white sheet, could you tell me what LOL means? lots of luck?

04-26-2007, 07:11 AM
lol means 'laugh out loud'... internet slang!

I think the white sheet looks great as is. This is going to be wonderful! :)

Donna T
04-26-2007, 07:44 AM
The sheet looks good to me, too. Like you said, it's not supposed to be the focal point. Hopefully when you get the cat started the sheet will fade into the background and not be an issue for you. I really like this because it's such a unique view and it's so cozy looking.

Donna T

cal studio
04-26-2007, 08:19 AM
This painting is becoming one of my favorites so far!!!!! Awesome. Look forward to seeing more.

04-26-2007, 09:31 AM
Wow! How did I almost miss this one???

Definitely staying to watch... so glad you're sharing this one with us Colleen.

04-26-2007, 10:42 AM
I know how frustrating it is when you have a look in your mind & can't seem to make it appear in the painting. But, that said, your sheet looks great to me. I think this is going to be just wonderful. It can help when your laying down where the darkest & lightest values are to put the reference in greyscale. I do this from time to time. Think I need to to do that on my current painting. :cat:
Pulling up a chair,

04-26-2007, 04:02 PM
I got an interesting response on the still life forum, a suggestion to posterize the image, it helped to see some of it anyway. Just put in the darkest darks. Now the whole range is there the lightest I can go and the darkest. By now the entire drawing is lost, and I have to go back in and establish it otherwise all my careful composition will get off everywhere..esp in my sister's face it's really lost. When I put the darks in I go too dark as it will lighten up as I work on top of it. the sheet still distresses me, but it's also still the best I can get it.

C & C welcome

04-26-2007, 04:48 PM
I've been thinking I should use Dianna Pontings method of keeping the drawer taped in place so you can lay it back over to refresh the lines. I could have used that on my current painting but I didn't do it.
I think yours is looking good.

04-26-2007, 08:01 PM
This is such fun to watch! I'm sure it is going to be fantastic....can't wait for the next installment! :thumbsup:

04-27-2007, 12:11 AM
Hey Tammy good idea, however I find I always change things a bit as I go and the original drawing often doesn't work... but it's worth keeping in mind.

04-27-2007, 12:13 AM
Thanks for the encouragement Deb, I'm about to start the striped pillow, something I've really avoided...it may take awhile before I post again expect it will take several hours, hopefully not as long as the sheet!...have to figure out the perspective, the wrinkles, and then make all those little stripes even...not my kind of thing at all, but the work needs it so here I go

04-27-2007, 12:40 AM
Hi Colleen

I went back to your original photo, trying to see what might be bothering you about the sheet, cos I think you've done a tremendous job with the light on it... and I think maybe I have found a clue...?

In the ref pic, the sheet is actually QUITE dark in value, except at the top left where the light hits it... maybe that's what's bothering your eye? Just a thought...

04-27-2007, 12:41 AM
Oh, and same for that strip of "white" fur on the right side of the cat's back... again, not NEARLY as light as you've painted it so far...

Hope this helps. :-)

04-27-2007, 12:43 AM
Oh, and you're gonna hate me now... there is a VERY dark triangle in the middle of the photo ref where your sister's chin meets the top of her pyjamas.

OK, shutting up now before you hit me with a wet mackeral <G>

Only trying to help... really, truly! :-)

04-27-2007, 12:45 AM
OK I lied... one last thing before I get killed... my art teacher has lots of helpful little sayings... one popped into my head just as I hit send on my last post... "the darks MAKE the lights".

That's it for now, I promise!

04-27-2007, 08:37 PM
not much time to work today, and it was all on the stripes so no post. In answer to Ann's points. I've put dark in several times there, but later work takes it out, so I'll wait til the end for the last touch...also lost the jaw line and had to take it out a bit and redraw.

In more general terms, I agree with your art teacher...but just to play with you...look at the portrait of Yahzee....there is no value there darker than an mid tone yet the whole thing is sufused with light ...right?:wink2: so the usual way to create light with dark, may have some subsets...

My Best,

04-28-2007, 02:22 PM
tho you may have to look hard, I promise I have worked a few hours more. I roughed in the pillow...imagine light and shade for the form, then each stripe changes direction at the wrinkle, AND each stripe changes value as it goes into the wrinkle highlight and shadow, plus the green stripe was not a single one of my 12 green pencils or 20 green pastels. To get the local color I ground up several and made my own and I'm mixing pencil strokes to get it to "wrinkle" on top. I misstated the size at the first post, this is 11x14 so the stripes are quite small.

Another problem is this board is very rough for some reason, wouldn't you know it? on the one piece I need to have pretty smooth for the detail. So in each area I am filling up the tooth to the right state without over filling it.

Now the major challenge is to get the values right, this is my weakest skill, so it's a good lesson. I'm working left to right and top to bottom so at this stage where I'm at the most delicate color changes, I have to get my sis done, before moving into the final stages of the cat and pillow. My biggest issue here is to get her face in shade but keep her alive and breathing, as I shade she tends to get more corpse like...I'm giving her a bit more color than the photo, but then she pops too much so any C and C from anyone who's faced this issue is welcome. appreciate all comments!

My Best,

04-28-2007, 05:02 PM
Oh Colleen this is going beautifully! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

04-28-2007, 11:33 PM
Hi Colleen

I didn't mean any disrespect or to offend, so my very humble apologies if I did do that - sometimes I dash things off "in shorthand" and later realise I may have come across differently than intended.

Very good point about the light in Yahzee's painting, and I'm still watching with great interest as you continue down the path with this painting. And feeling very glad it isn't me trying to deal with that stripey pillow!

On another note, I've been away for a couple of days unexpectedly, and have just come home to my pastel box being overturned by my dogs, most of the pastels EATEN, and an incredibly damaged, multi-coloured carpet - yikes!!!

04-29-2007, 12:38 AM
Oh ann, hope the dogs are ok , It's hard to get some pastels out, the Ludwigs really stain, but other will wash up...of course I'm not at all offended, that's why I said I would play...I'm happy to hear whatever comments come, and consider them when I work...fresh eyes are part of what we have to offer one another...When I was a young artist, things could get to me, but that is one of the graceful things about ageing, (at least for me) one can be much more objective about things. It's hard to critique, I read a wonderful post about it tonight from the Pastel Library in the poll there is a link to a great article where I learned some great things, you guys have probably already read it.
Your comments were valid, and you are always welcome to express your opinion I value it.:wave:

My Best,

04-29-2007, 02:26 AM
Missed this. Colleen, this is going to be awesome :)

04-29-2007, 02:34 AM
maybe Patrick...have to see ....between the stripes, her neckline, and the value changes in the white of the cat...it's pretty dicey Im at that stage where I'm geting sick of it and want it to be over....but there is a way to go yet so I'm telling myself how wonderful it is to practice patience :-)

Pat Isaac
04-29-2007, 04:24 PM
I have been following this WIP as I think it is a wonderful slice of life. I think you are doing just fine with it, coming along.....just hang it up where you can see it and just look at it for a few days, then go back with a fresh eye. This is a winner so don't give up. Your last post looks quite fine, the focus is away from the sheet.


04-29-2007, 08:15 PM
Thanks to all who are on this journey with me...I expected to be done by now, but as you know I'm finding this a huge challenge. Well now one more has shown up....All along I've found this particular pastelbord very hard to work with, it has an extremely rough surface and it is uneven some like boulders, some like sand,and where it changes is not always helpful, so starting on the cat, I find it very rough and I will have to give up my usual way of working with a lot of fine detail, fortunately this cat has a long coat so I may be able to get by with it, but will have to give up fine work and let things go loose. In this area it feels like drawing on pavement...if I use my pencils it actually leaves a dotted line.

It is pretty well finished to just below the cats eyes, and I put a detail so you might be able to see the "abstract" painting that each eye is... I'm considering a correction on the hair, you can see the new line there but not filled in yet.

Have to finish soon, as I have a commission to start,

All comments welcome, especially if you can help me see what"s wrong with where the cat"s paw rests on my sister, it's very stiff there.

My Best, Colleen

Donna T
04-29-2007, 09:15 PM
Colleen, this just gets better and better. I like how you did the stripes on the pillow and how the cat's eyes are the same green. I'm not sure what you should do about the paw. In your reference photo is the paw sunk down into the sheet at all? Seems like it might be easier to cover part of it up. Keep at it, you're almost done!

Donna T

Jo Castillo
04-29-2007, 09:33 PM
This is so nice. Been following along. I think the paw is fine. What I see is the line of white fur just under the mouth of the cat ends right there in your painting and that makes it look like his chest is there and the paw is outstreched or something. If that line continues on just a little (toward the paw), then he would be looking over it, his side. Do you see what I mean, there is sort of a dark 'v' shape. You have done such lovely work on this. Wow.


Pat Isaac
04-30-2007, 09:22 AM
Beautiful piece. I think the paw is just fine also. I do notice in the photo that that whole paw area is in shadow and that may be the white line of fur that Jo is talking about.
I really llike the calmness and beauty of this painting.


05-02-2007, 03:55 PM
Well here it is mostly, I'll tweak a few areas of fur and maybe a few other places, but the changes will be small. I've been pet sitting the last few days and one of my charges decided not to come home for 2 days, so I've not been able to finish this til now, he came home last night, perfectly fine.

If you see anything, you can be picky :D please speak up....If you'be been following this you know I've been pretty challanged.
The most important new discovery: things in shadow can cast shadows in the shadow! and just try to make the values work!

What I learned I need to get more info on:
skin tones, mine got pretty muddy, think I need some instruction, if you know of a thread on WC please let me know. Ditto for the white sheet.

What I'm happy about:
I'M DONE , the composition, the feel of light, and getting the unusual perspective. I'll work a bit more on the fur to get the light to travel more around the body,see the detail on fur..also this shows how rough this board is and why I went to a looser treatment for the cat.

thanks to all who helped with encouragement and comments

My Best, Colleen

Pat Isaac
05-02-2007, 04:39 PM
I would certainly be happy with this painting. It is such a wonderful slice of life and the lighting and colors all work so wonderfully. It speaks volumes. I have been enamored of this painting from the beginning.


05-02-2007, 05:48 PM
It turned out great.

05-02-2007, 06:15 PM
You did a great job on this! The pillow turned out really well and I love the cat's eyes. Well done!!

Terry Wynn
05-02-2007, 06:16 PM
Colleen, hi, this is GORGEOUS! Thanks so much for posting as you went along. Beautiful painting.


05-02-2007, 06:32 PM
The fur is beautifully painted.
You sure did pick quite a few areas to concentrate on: portraiture, fur of the cat, folds in fabric....very nice!

Jo Castillo
05-02-2007, 06:47 PM
This turned out sooooo well. Congratulations on a well done painting. Especially with all the complicated items. Very nice. I enjoyed reading all the advice as well, thanks.

Donna T
05-02-2007, 07:38 PM
It's done! It's beautiful!!!!!!!

Donna T

05-02-2007, 07:46 PM
Yep! It's a beauty! Terrific job!

05-02-2007, 08:18 PM
Hi Colleen,
What a stunning piece of work! I think Pat summed it up perfectly when she called it "a real slice of life". The only thing I didn't see..........your signing it. Well done!!

bruce johnson
05-02-2007, 08:22 PM
Excellent finish Colleen... this is one to be very proud of...

05-02-2007, 08:43 PM
Hi all,
whew this was a marathon for me, Cindy has it right, it just had so many elements in it, when I started I just thought about the cat. Now I see if I want to expand my animal work, I need landscape, and maybe some portrait ( I'm holding that off, I hope) and still life...It's great Im on this forum as each of these have represention, plus I can go to the subject matter areas too...So much to learn! I found some white iris today, I hope to upload to the RL if anyone wants to work on white...I'm still open to change if anyone sees something that jumps out.

C&C welcome

05-02-2007, 09:23 PM
I'm so glad you kept at it. It's a great result and a real lesson to us all in perseverence. :clap:

05-03-2007, 02:12 AM
Wow Colleen, it's turned out lovely. Man, I'd hate to tackle that pillow... I'd have chickened out and just made it a solid colour :-)

Thanks for sharing the journey so generously.

05-03-2007, 11:13 AM
Hi Ann,
I would have loved to make it solid, but then the whole composition would have been compromised...part of my ideas about composition are "musical" ie motifs are repeated, so the stripes, the folds in her sleeve and the bars of light arcross the cat all go together...also that texture is needed to offset the mass of the white sheet. so I had to put them in, it took hours, and even then I sort of faked it some...made folds that lead the eye to the cat instead of what was there. :heart:
My Best,

05-03-2007, 11:35 AM
Colleen, fabulous finish to your personal challenge of skin tones, stripes and cat. Your painting is beautiful.