Just when I was driving off from my BF’s place the other day, what do I see crossing my path? A black cat! Uh oh hope no bad luck, one might think. Of course, it’s just a superstition that black cats give bad luck. And I disagree with the superstition, they’re too cute to! I’ll bet you didn’t know that in Japan, black cats are actually a symbol of good fortune as they ward off evil. Yes really! And now few metres after that kawaii black cat crossing, what should appear in the next corner I turn? A white cat! Hmmm, very interesting. Now, a white cat is quite commonly used for Maneki Neko or Fortune Cats so is definitely auspicious. I wonder if the successive appearance of a black and white cat should signify something. Perhaps something good will come? Hope so! And of course to seal the fortune, I thought it would be an idea to paint about this!
Starting out Catty
I wanted a vividly colourful background for this piece, considering the cats will be painted black and white. The paper, from my Strathmore Mixed Media pad, was firstly coated with gesso. This time, though, I thought I’d experiment with clear gesso instead of the usual white and combine that with a few drops of Cobalt Violet liquid watercolour by the Dr. Ph Martin’s Hydrus range. That transparent appearance looks really cool! I should use clear gesso more often. Once dry, I scribbled in some text with my Van Gogh oil pastels, “white cat black cat” before gluing on some cat-shaped cut outs from scrap Japanese-language newspaper. These shapes were all cut out free-style with scissors and glued on with some Matte Medium
Layers of stuff were added thereafter. I sprinkled on in various stages various acrylic inks in pink, magenta, turquoise and blue as well as fluid acrylic paint in violet, spreading them around with my fingers. In addition, I smeared on some heavy bodied acrylic paint in Medium Magenta with a palette knife. Some cats faces were further doodled on with oil pastel and more newspaper cat shapes were also glued on for more effect. I repeated the layers over and over until I had a good background on which I can work.
Drawing in the Cats
This time, I wanted mirrored images of the two cats but how would I go about that? I drew on a scrap piece of paper the cat and cut it out with a pair of scissors so I could trace over it. In hindsight, I could have taken that paper and fold it in half and cut out two cats but instead I just traced it on another paper and cut it out. Having two cut outs proved handy so I could see where in advance I could position them. Once I was happy with the positioning, I simply traced them onto the painting with pencil.
Time to Paint!
I first retraced the outlines with some acrylic markers. Then I worked on the black cat by mixing black acrylic paint with some Golden Gloss Gel to achieve that glossy look. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out exactly as planned. I was hoping to get some transparency so the fancy background would somehow show through. Although this worked on the body, the head was not as effective. I realised that this was because when using gloss gel, brush strokes appeared on top of which I then painted another layer to make them disappear. That of course made the black too thick! Not to worry, I should keep that in mind in future. The focus is on the cuteness of the cats anyway, so I’m not too disappointed. Luckily, the white cat turned out better. There, I firstly brushed a thin coat of white gesso with a bit of water and once dry, used the similar method of mixing white acrylic paint with Gloss Gel. The final touches were done by adding some bubble wrap imprints with yellow paint to add some balance to the purply background colour. And now….
At this point, I decided not to add faces on the cats and preferred to leave them as silhouettes. It is possible that in future, I may add more but for now, I like it the way it is. Despite the little trouble with painting the black cat, I did enjoy working on this piece. I take it more as an experiment and should look at the experience more positively. Like I said, what counts is the cuteness of the cats and furthermore, the thought behind what had inspired me to paint them in the first place. Black or white, these cats symbolise luck and the good fortune which hopefully ought to lie ahead!