An in-depth look at paintings
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A2 Oil on Canvas
Image: Tig in the garden
Handsome Tig (Tigger) was a young stray who came to me when a neighbour asked me to take him for a while, as her dogs didn’t get on with him. Needless to say, he didn’t go back.
He was a cool, calm and very affectionate lad who loved cuddles and my company.
You could find him either asleep on the garden wall, or, when I was at work, his favourite place was the meadow behind our home, where he spent the day until I came back. Then you could see him bounding out of the spinney to greet me. He also enjoyed taking a walk around the meadow with me, which caused one of two surprised looks.
A lovely lad truly missed 2001-2017
The aim of this painting was to be light and bright, and to capture Tig’s loving and playful personality.
A large A2 canvas was used in combination with a close-up composition of his face. This allows freedom of brushstrokes, while retaining definition and detail in features such as the eyes, nose and whiskers.
To achieve this, a style nested between realism and impressionism is used.
For example, the eyes are painted in a realist style, using slight saturation of colour to make them stand out and be the first thing which you notice when observing the piece.
Adding colour to "white" fur
If the painting were to be in a realist style, it would have needed more neutral tones including more greys and darker shadows in the fur. Instead, brighter colours were used by using both pure oranges, yellows and purples and lighter tones of each, which were then mixed with each other on the canvas using the paintbrush.
A more impressionist style may have required looser and larger brushstrokes and a more ambitious range of colours. For instance, blues, greens, a wider variety of pinks and darker shades for his stripes. Some slight touches of green and blue are used but all in all the painting has a bright yet fairly restrained palette.
Colour Focus: Yellow Ochre
Yellow ochre's slightly duller tone seemed to be the glue in the painting which connected the brights with the lights, working perfectly with magenta, orange and yellow. When using natural pigments, yellow Ochre derives from Iron Hydroxide, which is also called limonite, an earthy material which produces golden browns and yellows.
The light, clay-like characteristic of this colour gives a natural feel to the piece which adds subtlety and tones down some of the more vibrant, and slightly “artificial” pinks and purples.
This painting didn’t have a plan as such, other than to have a close up of Tig’s face! Therefore, it went through several changes in both the early and late stages of its creation.
At first, Tig was going to be painted in an impressionist style, sat in a meadow with flowers and grass surrounding him. However, by using thick iridescent paint applied with a palette knife for the darks of the grass, it became mucky and grey. This is because cheaper, or alternative oil paints have a large amount of “filler” in proportion to colour pigment and linseed oil. Consequently, they may look vivid, or iridescent, individually but when mixed with other colours often lose their shine and colour.
It turned out that the colours could have worked, if it weren’t for the contrast in styles used for Tig and the background colour. The pink was simply too deep in comparison with the light tones used for the fur. As a result, there was a slight clash both in colour and in style.
Having completed the entire painting, there was a slight dilemma. There was no solid edge between cat and canvas; Tig’s fur overlapped with the background. Therefore, by painting a new background, the fur had to painted over and then redone. This was slightly tricky, as the pink wanted to invade both fur and background and as the paint was still wet, the blue mixed with the yellows to create greens.
Nevertheless, the decision to use a light, sky blue was a good one as it both contrasts with Tig’s warm fur and ensures that the light palette used for the fur is not overpowered. All that needed to be done was to add some subtle tints of green into the whites of the fur adding a subtle, extra dimension of colour and for the white whiskers to once again overlay the background and become a prominent foreground feature.
Because of the dull tones being produced for the background, the paint was wiped off to leave a pinky/purple stain which was then covered with a deep pink from Windsor and Newton’s “Winton” range. This colour was going to be used as a solid background as a sort of experiment to see whether the clash between the bright pink and Tig’s ginger fur would create a contemporary look . . . or just clash.