View Full Version : cats and other animals

09-04-2010, 03:13 PM

This series will be taken from several different books, in different sizes but I thought I'd show some of the sketches I've done of our cats.

This one was done from life.

This little tiger has a real fetish for boxes - no matter how small she'll try to get into them. She's quite a big, long legged cat but she managed to squeeze herself into this lager box and settled down to sleep - I think it was a 6 pack.

Done, I think, with a carbon pencil.

09-04-2010, 06:49 PM
Sweet kitty. Yup, cats and boxes go together. :cat:

09-04-2010, 07:50 PM
What a gorgeous kitty. She is so cute in there. Must feel nice and safe for her. One of my cats love boxes the other two are fanatical about bags, esp noisy supermarket bags. But they love sitting on them rather than climbing in.

09-04-2010, 09:33 PM
:lol: like it - this new thread is going to be a favourite I think Vivien!

09-05-2010, 05:51 AM
She likes bags as well - but getting inside them is what she loves


This was a pastel of her (from a photo this time) in a bag of papers I was sorting out for the bin. She was a lot younger then :)

She was all excited and naughty (mind your fingers) but then fell asleep there

09-05-2010, 09:04 AM
Vivien, this last pastel is simply lovely! I love her expression :)

09-05-2010, 06:31 PM
thank you :) she's got a lovely expressive face - she was an orphaned feral kitten that we took in and raised from the age of 2 weeks, the size of a hamster, weighing 25 grams. (3 hourly feeding 24/7)



09-05-2010, 08:00 PM
Looks like mischief in a fur coat!

09-06-2010, 12:39 AM
Gorgeous creature :) Love the upturned gaze and the kitty in the bag, in the boxes, in .... :)

09-06-2010, 02:45 AM
AaAaaAWwWwww... These are so adorable.

09-06-2010, 10:12 PM
Very cute kitty in a bag. Kind of you to take her in so small and helpless. She's beautiful.

09-07-2010, 12:21 PM
Vivien, she is adorable! Both of these are so spectacular. That first one, in the six-pack box with "Caring" as a label - that ought to be enlarged and printed as a poster. I'm not kidding, you would sell 100,000 of them or more. You could sell that to a card or poster company for royalties and cash, just get a really good high resolution digital image and shop it around exactly as it is. You wouldn't even have to let go of the original.

Beautiful pastel of her as a baby kitten in a bag - and you could do much the same thing with the color version of her wicked youth too. I can believe it. I've had too many adorable kittens not to recognize a big-eyed meat grinder when I see one. Your photo is spectacular too. May I please draw from it? I'd love to see what I could do with that mischievous little tiger.

She sounds like such a sweet cat. So cool that you raised her from two weeks old, bottle feeding her. It's rough keeping to the schedule but it's so great a feeling once they're past that age to have managed to keep them alive - bet she thinks you're her mom. So happy she lived and you still have her -- she's gorgeous and I hope you keep sketching her often!

09-07-2010, 02:53 PM
thank you all :)

You are welcome to work from it Robert - do show me what you do.

I love her dearly and she can be very very sweet - her feral side can come through when she's cross though! Having brought her up she doesn't have the normal boundaries and respect of most cats - she'll smack people quite hard if her warning growls are ignored! or when playing (though more my husband than me - she knows that if I say 'don't you dare' I mean it) and she has the most terrible line of bad language - her gutter origins show when she's cross! She's also the original scaredy cat and runs away from any and all strange noises.

I get more of the cuddly side :)


This was attempting to sketch her from life in watercolour, with no preliminary drawing - and her of course not keeping still

09-07-2010, 09:01 PM
Very well done. You've captured her likeness even if she was moving.

09-08-2010, 09:50 AM
I think with cats (well I suppose with any animal or people) it's essential to get the skull structure right.

People are often inclined to shorten the forehead too much and flatten the face and make the nose/mouth area too wide. Robert will know what I mean with all his work on Ari :)

09-08-2010, 12:10 PM
Hi Vivien,

Great to see a critter journal from you. Wonderful cat sketches! Looking forward to many more here!

09-09-2010, 05:57 PM
thanks :wave:


madame sleeping, pencil

09-09-2010, 07:49 PM
Cute! Like the looseness of the sketch Vivien, and you've certainly captured the position so well :)

09-09-2010, 09:21 PM
Awww that's a sweet sleeping cat! Looks so contented. Wonderful proportions and softly rounded, natural pose. Fantastic cat sketch. From life? She looks so regal curled up there, like she's taken up the middle of your bed and expects you to curl up around her rather than wake her up or anything.

09-10-2010, 04:18 AM
Beautiful sleeping kitty sketch.

09-10-2010, 08:00 AM
oh yes, she doesn't expect to be moved Robert! and yes, from life

thanks everyone :)

09-10-2010, 10:26 PM
She looks so sweet and lovable, like I'd want to just curl up around her and start scritching, get a gentle purr.

09-11-2010, 06:38 AM

This is a very badly focused picture of her at about 3 weeks old with her brother, held in one hand! Sadly her brother who was only 20 grams didn't make it - he was beautiful, a very soft pale apricot sort of ginger.


This is her in the bag of papers again but getting drowsy, so not with the intense, naught expression. She fell asleep in there after this. Good excuse to stop tidying :)

Vivien Maloney
09-11-2010, 02:24 PM
Wonderful cat sketches. I love the way you've caught the different expressions. I laughed at your comment about her bad language when she was cross. Our old cat used to do the same thing. Muttered and growled and warned everyone how cross he was. I'll follow this Sketchbook with great interest.

09-11-2010, 04:15 PM
Vivien, she is so adorable. I love the blurry baby kitten photo from when she was three weeks old. She looks so fascinated with her own foot! So sad about her brother, he was beautiful, such gorgeous color.

Great drawing of her in the bag of papers! She does look sort of vague and dozy there, eyes open but not really focused, she's so sweet. Of course that's a perfect reason to stop cleaning, you don't want to disturb that adorable kitten's beauty sleep. Not when it's so effective in keeping her that beautiful! I love the way you did the papers too - that frames her and sets her off perfectly. All the lines lead back to the lovely kitten, she looks so solid next to all the flimsy paper.

09-11-2010, 05:45 PM
Awww...so cute and adorable. Splendid drawing of her in the paper.

09-11-2010, 09:29 PM
She is so so cute and adorable. I love that you rescued her and were able to keep her alive. Pity about the brother :( Your sketches are wonderful, so full of love and character. She is gorgeous in the bags. Really nice sketch of her sleeping as a big girl. She looks so cosy and snuggled.

09-12-2010, 09:23 AM

This is a very quick charcoal sketch of a much loved previous cat - no longer with us. She had the longest fur, sweetest nature, the emptiest little head and never scratched anyone in her entire long life.

09-12-2010, 09:31 AM
She was such a beauty" Wow, she did have very long fur, I love how you captured its softness. She looks so cosy and comfortable. She sounds like a complete darling, what a wonderful feline. I hope you'll draw her again many times, she was a beauty and deserves to be remembered well.

Never scratched anyone? She reminds me of Gemini, who put up with toddlers dragging her around by her head without scratching them.

09-12-2010, 10:36 AM
Very nice, Viven! We had a couple of long haired cats years ago, and you've captured the look - a peek of ear here, hint of an eye there, one paw showing and everything else is just a kind of cat shaped fluffball. :)

09-12-2010, 10:21 PM
Gorgeous kitty.

09-15-2010, 10:03 AM
thank you :)

yes her fur was terribly long and a nightmare to brush - I said never a long haired cat in the future! she was another 'arrival' - a stray kitten.


This is our other cat - another rescue one. He's a tough, tree climbing little boy, who has an extra toe on each foot - so looks as if he has a thumb on his front paws :)

09-15-2010, 08:20 PM
Vivien! what a lovely collection of work you are creating here! Such a tiny little kitten and gorgeous. I realllllllly like the last one (pastel?), the colours in his dark fur are beautiful, and what a bonus - an extra toe!

09-15-2010, 10:56 PM
Delightful. He looks full of mischief.

09-15-2010, 11:56 PM
Vivien, I love your work. I am enjoying sketching my black lab, and from very cockeyed beginnings I am improving a bit with each try.

09-17-2010, 01:59 AM
Vivien, that little black kitten is wonderful! Extra toes so it looks like he has a thumb? Is he more dextrous? Sounds like a little bit of lovable trouble there. His nose is so cute, reminds me of Ari's cool little black nose with its strong highlight. Those eyes are wonderful. He seems so lost in what he's doing, thinking his kitten thoughts, deciding when and whether to swat or pounce on something... like he's tracking a bug or an imaginary mouse. Beautiful painting.

Carole A
09-17-2010, 10:44 AM
Thumbs on a kitty :cat: That reminds me of the book, The Art of Racing In The Rain. The central character is a dog who obssesses over his lack of thumbs and the things he could do if only... He also believes he could talk if he had a more human tongue, not a long flat one. I'm making this sound like a silly animal story, but actually it's a very good story of an auto racer, family difficulties, terminal illness, but if you decide to pick it up and read it, stock up on tissues first.

Well that was off topic, wasn't it. I do love your kitten. My dog is a black lab and it's hard to even get a decent photo of him. Did you use masking for the white bits on his hair? Or go back over with gouache?


09-17-2010, 11:05 AM
thanks everyone - yes pastel and charcoal - so the lights were put on last with no masking. There is actually colour in the eyes but it isn't picked up in the photo.

Yes, he's very dextrous and can juggle paper balls and catch things using that 'thumb' and he balances on the thinnest branches in trees.#


This is a sketch of a gorilla at the zoo - from life - that I did some time back. I had free entry to go and sketch there, which was lovely. Unfortunately the zoo is a little way off across country so not very convenient. I would love to do another spell there working. I concentrated on the gorilla and orang utans.

09-17-2010, 11:07 PM
Incredible life sketch of the gorilla, that is so powerful. You give a sense of how big he is and how strange, at once in some ways humanlike and in others not. Very cool charcoal drawing. I love charcoal for powerful, expressive sketching. Haven't done anything like that in ages but probably should.

The little black kitten is spectacular. He's still one of my favorites. So cool he does pick things up and juggle them and climb on thin branches - sounds like a great little cat! I can see color variations within his eyes that are gorgeous and subtle, they're showing up online well. I didn't mention that because you'd gotten his nose so well and that's something wonderful on a black cat.

09-17-2010, 11:16 PM
Great gorilla, Vivien! Charcoal can make for some amazing sketches.

09-17-2010, 11:19 PM
Awesome gorilla.

09-17-2010, 11:35 PM
The first one's so cute (in box)

Joan T
09-18-2010, 11:18 AM
These are wonderful!!! I was enjoying seeing all the cat sketches, that the awesome gorilla took me by surprise! lol

09-18-2010, 12:29 PM
Wow, the gorilla in charcoal was a stroke of genious for subject + medium. Love it.

09-18-2010, 12:51 PM
thank you everyone :>) I think it's so much better to draw from life - the results may be rougher but there's something else there.

The gorilla was moody and looking at me like a New York gang member. When I leaned forward to pick up another bit of charcoal from my bag, he headbutted towards the glass between us at HIGH speed, stopping half an inch from it. I jumped back 6 feet and he sat back Very Very Slowly, holding my eyes and if he had a leather jacket he would have been adjusting the collar!

The orang utan mother was so different - she was fascinated with what I was doing and was just the other side of the glass from me, watching intently. She was so interactive.

Here she is


She'd wrapped herself up in a sheet. They were in a heated enclosure but it was February and it was bitterly cold - I was in the cold!

Carole A
09-18-2010, 01:04 PM
Wonderful primates, Vivien! I particularly love your Orangutan. I think they are my favorite primate.


09-18-2010, 05:24 PM
Wow! These are amazing Vivien, and from life no less! I don't know how you do it. I'd struggle to do sketches half as nice from a photo.


09-18-2010, 05:46 PM
The orangutan looks as curious as you said she was. Beautiful sketch.

09-18-2010, 07:34 PM
I love your orangutan! She's beautiful, looks like she's curious and wants to learn to sketch. You captured that gorilla's dominant look so well too, thanks for the story of how he behaved. He looks like that - like he's adjusting his leather jacket being the Baddest Ape on his block.

09-19-2010, 12:48 PM
orang utans are my favourites too Carole :) I've never been particularly fond of chimps somehow. She was so gentle

I'm glad the baddest ape attitude came through :)

Funnily, it's easier to sketch from life David - you have to concentrate on the essentials and don't get bogged down in fiddly details that aren't really necessary. It was easier for me being winter because they were indoors behind glass and so I could get really close - though the public were out in the cold! it's not a big zoo but it's keen on conservation.


This is one of the orang utan mother with baby - baby kept rampaging about but returned to her constantly so each time he arrived I drew a bit more of him. She stayed there watching me, again with the sheet wrapped around her.

This is quite a big sketchbook - about 15 ins high. A spiral bound Canson.

09-19-2010, 06:32 PM
I can just see the little one from your sketch going "Hey, mom!? Mo-om?", sighing and going off to play again. It made me smile. Great job on this one.

09-19-2010, 06:37 PM
This is fantastic. It's cool the way you show her pulling the sheet around herself, and the baby's expression is so great. They are so true and real. I think you're right about drawing from life sometimes, based on all the times I do Ari from life. Sometimes it's easier to get his emotions and poses that way. I should try him in charcoal sometime.

09-20-2010, 08:50 PM
lol! the story about the bad-ass gorilla is spot on - I think the attitude and emotion you can pick up from the primates is amazing, it is usually one of my favourite part of a visit to a zoo or wildlife park to watch the chimps and orangutans (I love watching meerkats too!). Sorry now I am off track too Vivien - I love these sketches and agree with the drawing from life comment - definitely so much more spontaneity. There is a place for all types and methods of drawing ;)

09-21-2010, 05:11 PM
off track is good :D more interesting than straight lines


this one was a really really quick one - scratching around for nuts/sunflower seeds on the floor

09-21-2010, 08:07 PM
The blue highlights on the black kitten are beautiful. The apes are attention getting for sure. You were able to catch the different personalities of the different species.

09-21-2010, 08:15 PM
Interesting pose you caught on this one.

09-21-2010, 09:08 PM
Wow those orangutans are amazing!

09-27-2010, 10:11 AM
Ohhhhh all these are so gorgeous, you have an enviable sense of light and energy/life in them! I love the way you write about your cat as well, such a distilled sense of feline in it. :) What a shame about the other baby, we've spent the summer fostering tiny ones like in your picture and it's hard yards although when everything goes right it's rewarding beyond words.

09-27-2010, 02:45 PM
thank you all :)

eek raising more than 2 must be extremely hard work and the repeated heartbreak with the ones that don't make it - it's great that you do it.

09-27-2010, 05:01 PM
Very loose and powerful.

09-27-2010, 10:06 PM
Lifting jaw off the floor!!!!!!

THese are all SOOOOOO EXPRESSIVE and full of life and character.

THANKYOU for sharing!!!!!

09-28-2010, 02:37 PM

thank you!

charcoal is IMO the easiest thing for fluid quick sketches as you can change it rapidly with a brush of the hand if you want to change anything