Yay! Am back to drawing kawaii characters again after a brief stopover with abstract art. Both are fun doing of course but I like to add variety to my work, produce what’s on my mind and discover interesting stuff. I’ve been working on this watercolour and gouache combo for a few days and now ready to share! Upon completing the piece on Catwalk, I noticed how fun it was to draw the cat as large as the models. And then I decided to develop the thought about cats being larger than life!
I dampened and taped down some watercolour paper to stretch it out and once dry, I began sketching with a mechanical pencil. Little One flanked between two kawaii kittens. Or could be two kittens with a Little One dolly. Say what you will. It’s been quite a while since Little One has been featured. I missed her so much! Now, the challenge was making the two cats the same size with even pairs of ears. I nevertheless managed and decided their bodies look different from each other for fun, one looking more cat-like with a tail, the other a fantasy with arms and legs rather than paws. The tail is hidden behind. And actually the way Little One is tilted a bit was pure chance. With one arm turning out longer than the other, it looks as though she’s reaching out or pointing to the ground. Then I somewhat made the rest of her look like that. Not sure if I would have been able to draw that had that been the intention!
Once happy with the sketch and adding more details like the eyes, I painted away! The background was first coloured in green using a wet brush and some dried out watercolour paint from a previous piece. I used Dr. Ph. Martins’s Hydrus Liquid Watercolour. As for the rest, I initially had a go with Jane Davenport’s watercolours for the grey cat but I was not too happy with how the colours spread. I then decided to stop there and resume with paints of a more “professional standard”. My set of Gansai Tambi Japanese watercolours was first considered, but then I thought it would be a nice change to switch to the western Winsor & Newton paint pans. Both brands are great, although with the Gansai Tambi the colours are more intense. I used a selection of brushes designed especially for watercolour; Mastertouch Aquamarine Watercolour brushes were purchased on Amazon. They are very good quality, especially as the strands don’t go stray.
I had a go with masking fluid in the tiny areas for this piece. Drawing Gum by L’Aquarelle Sennelier is quite good because it comes in a small flat squishy bottle with a long needle-like 0.5 mm spout you can easily squirt out. Cleverly, the cap has a needle that fits exactly in the spout hole so the fluid doesn’t dry out. One disadvantage, though, is that the fluid is so watery that you need to watch it doesn’t spurt out suddenly and make a mess. I recommend tapping the bottle gently on the area and then with a toothpick or satay stick, spread the fluid within the area you want to mask out. When it’s dry, you can paint around it, even over it, then when the paint, in turn, is dry you can rub the masking fluid off. Apologies for the bad photo but here is an example. The whites of the eyes were masked out. The result, once fluid is rubbed out, is the upper left one.
Touch up with Gouache
I don’t get to use Gouache much and thought this would be a perfect opportunity. It goes well with watercolour when you want to intensify the colour of certain details, i.e. eyes or items of clothing etc. Here, I used Holbein’s Acryla Gouche which come in tubes. You just need just a small drop as a little goes a long way. As you can see below, I applied gouache on the cats’ eyes, red scarf and flowers on the ground. Also on the details of Little One’s pink dress for some added kawaii (pink flower and dots on the collar). And to make the whites of the eyes pop out more, I dotted on some white gouache. Finally, I painted on the eyelashes and cats’ whiskers with a watercolour brush pen (Kuretake Clean Color). Et voila!!
So wonderful to go back to the kawaii again. I guess I was in the mood in between producing the more dynamic mind-stimulating abstract stuff and wanting to regress to my inner child. As I keep repeating, it’s always good to be flexible and see what suits yourself according to your mood and state of mind. One thing is certain, though. I love working with bright vivid colours and bringing life to my work!