It was my lucky day the other day! One morning when I looked out the window from our attic a little brown bunny was meandering at a distance around the trees our neighbourhood farm. It’s not so often you see one at this time of the year. Then later in the day, I see the farmer’s cat roaming down the path across from our garden. She is very unique looking, with multicoloured brown fur but white on the chin and around her mouth. I have no idea what her name is but I’ll call her Root Beer. She kinda resembles Root Beer with her brown fur and white “froth” around her face! And how else did I come up with that idea? Well that same day in the afternoon, I saw from a distance another cat, this time wandering down the communal front lawn towards a house. It turns out her name is Pepsi who belongs to the house across from us. What a cute name, and so perfect, it suits her! So why not Pepsi and Root Beer? This of course inspired me to do a cute little story painting of my day.
Making a Sketch
I knew exactly what I had in mind but how to illustrate it? Then I thought of going back to the Story Painting Class I had with Tracy Verdugo some months back and decided to adopt her idea; putting all the stories into one painting. The left would be the woodsy area of the farm where the bunny was, followed by the path across our garden where stands Root Bear, and finally the communal front yard across which Pepsi was marching. The three separate locations in reality are nothing like the painting but I joined them together as a fantasy landscape. After having drafted my ideas on a small sketchbook, I transferred that on a large A3 Watercolor paper (Cansons) using a dark blue watercolor pencil.
Time to Paint!
Acrylic inks were used for this painting. Further adopting Tracy’s idea, I limited myself to five colors by sticking to the green palette; three in Greens (Sennelier Abstract Bright Yellow Green, Sennielier Abstract Permanent Green Light and Daler & Rowney Emerald Green), one yellow (Daler & Rowney Lemon Yellow) and one blue (Daler & Rowney Marine Blue). In addition to that were the neutral colours of Payne’s Grey, Antelope Brown and Titanium White all by Daler & Rowney. Only Marine Blue was used for the water which separates our backyard from the farmer’s territory. By mixing and matching where suitable, one can produce different tones and shades of green for the background. Another is to dilute with water to get the desired transparency or opacity. So much fun painting away! I just kept continuing and just adding layer by layer starting with the background and then adding details. I used a dropper from the bottle and bamboo skewer for the outlines and fine details like the grass and trees.
And Now the Animals!
Once I was happy with the background for now, I painted brown bunny, Root Beer and Pepsi. Now that was a challenge! It is not often I get to paint animals as specifically as possible as I am always making them in one color like orange, black or white! Incorporating stripy bits and getting them multicolored were something new to me, once again going beyond my comfort zone. And why not? Challenge is always fun. Here, I used a combination of Antelope Brown, Payne’s Grey and Titanium white, with the fine details scratched in with a bamboo skewer and a white gel pen. Although the animals are not exactly as the actual photos, it was my intention to make them cute and animated. The great thing about this exercise is once I can paint a proper cat it’s much easier to do so in future!
Adding More Details
Once the animals were painted in, I then had a better idea of how to improve the landscape. I left the houses as they were and didn’t add any details like windows or doors so as not to distract them from the animals as the main subjects. However, I felt the trees and plants could do a bit of texture. Dots, circles and lines were doodled in on the plants and barks of trees with a white gel pen which was also used on the wave ripples of the water. I again used my bamboo stick dipped in the colored inks to add further streaks and dots on the plants as well. Once again wanting to emphasize the cute animals in my painting, I decided not to add too much to the background, and now I can say that I am happy with this piece. And how cute do my animals look amid the beautiful greenery!
I thoroughly enjoyed creating this painting. It took me a bit beyond my comfort zone, although I have followed classes in the past involving elaborate landcapes and animals being drawn in more detail. I now realize that landscape painting is another area that I should like to explore more. Also since challenging myself to drawing animals in more detail, I now have more confidence in incorporating that into my future work. What further made it all the funner was that this painting is based on actual incidents which are so memorable that I had to illustrate them on paper. I should work on story painting more!