Cats Gone Underground!

And here are my little cats and kittens going underground and hiding whilst preying for that big fish jumping up in the air. And who are they accompanied with today? Their little friend, Pet Rock! Another painting from our Tuesday evening abstract art classes. And the first one with water-soluble oil paints. How exciting is that! Another excitement is developing ideas by inspiration from other artists: This time it’s the turn of Corneille, another COBRA artist.

Who and What?

So who is Corneille and what is COBRA, you may be wondering. Let’s start with COBRA, which stands for COpenhagen, BRussels, Amsterdam. It was a movement dating back between 1948 and 1951 in Northern Europe during the aftermath of WWII when there was a sudden rush of creative freedom and a breakaway from the repression of the War and sterile art style. In other words, it was the beginning of abstract expressionism! Corneille Guillaume Beverloo, otherwise just known as Corneille, was one of such artists. He was born in Belgium but moved to the Netherlands with family. Like many of his contemporaries, his work is heavily influenced by the drawings of children. Many of his work feature animals including lots of cats too! In later years, he was further influenced by African art which reflects his colorful style. Find out more a bit about him here.

The Start

Our tutor, Dieter, showed me a book about the COBRA movement featuring the artists involved and their amazing work. Among a number of paintings, this work by Corneille caught my eye. This one doesn’t feature cats unlike some of his other work but I decided I would develop it into my style and introduce some of my cute feline characters. This was also a great time to try out a new medium I’ve yet to have tried: Water-soluble oil paint! Coincidentally called Cobra, they are linseed-derived and as the description suggests, can be spread and diluted with water. A great invention since conventional oil paint uses turpentine which not only is smelly but can be toxic. No surprise then that the water-soluble version is apparently used in art schools in the U.S. now as they are safer. Let’s give it a try!

Paint Away!

For this piece, I went for a Gesso Board. It is like a canvas board but smoother and has no weaving surface like canvas does. Another experiment on a product I haven’t tried yet! The Cobra paint took a while to get used to, especially with the amount of water to spread it with. Whilst the application has a smooth and even silky touch to it, the paint can come out quite streaky as you can see below. Also, when wanting to add another layer of paint, you need to wait till it is dry which, being oil-derived, takes at least a week.

Nevertheless, I managed once I got accustomed to this new paint. First I worked on the upper background of the top half then worked my way down to the bottom. Worth noting is that I started with five tubes of colors in black, white and primary colors of red, yellow and blue. That way I can mix colors which saves money compared to buying a range of colors especially when experimenting for the first time. Thus, the varying shades of grey and the secondary colors of orange and green were possible.

My painting is a bit similar in composition to the original Corneille piece, but I made my own alterations to suit my style. Although the upper half such as the fish, sun and bushes remain, the characters on the bottom half were replaced by kawaii cats! The painting took a few weeks to complete as I had to wait for the paint to dry at least a week before adding another layer. Nevertheless, it was worth it as I am very happy with the result. And it was a lot of fun painting with the Cobra paints; I’m glad I quickly got used to it. And here it is, my Corneille-inspired masterpiece!

And what a wonderful session that was! I always enjoy my Tuesday evening classes as they give me so much inspiration and ideas for my painting. And whilst I am inspired by other artists, adapting it to my style is part of the fun. The water-soluble oil paints are great to work with, and I will definitely be using them again in future although I need to be aware each layer takes a week or so to dry before more can be piled on. Lastly, Corneille has quite a few other pieces I’d be interested to develop into my work! Let’s see what I can come up with….

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