Day One of Pet Portraits Class

Today I started the first of five classes (one each night this week) on painting pet portraits in oils. I have several portraits I’d like to do, all based on some of the darling animals that I pet-sit, as well as the cat and dog that we had while I was growing up. I no longer have pets of my own due to allergies, but for the special people in my life, I drug myself heavily and pet-sit for them. It’s how I get my pet fix and earn some extra money, too. :)


My kitty-niece Penny

I had printed out a number of photos, then I had to narrow down the choices. I ended up choosing the picture of my best friend’s cat, Penny. I’m really pleased with the picture and still can’t believe I was able to get her in such a good pose. It has some good contrast going on (especially once I played a little with it in Paint Shop Pro) and it just brought back a lot of memories from when I watched her that time. I was thinking of some of those memories driving home from class and they’ve given me some ideas for the background. I’m still not sure which I’ll end up using.

It’s a sweet picture of a sweet, affectionate cat. She is, by far, the most attention craving cat that I have house-sat. Most of the cats will come up every once in a while to be loved, but this sweet girl would hang around for hours. Books and laptops don’t deter her, she just plops down on top of them, demanding to be petted.

Anyway, back to class. I arrived and got settled. Recognized some old faces from previous classes I’ve taken with the artist, Linda. Chatted a bit amongst ourselves, then got down to business. We introduced ourselves, went over some basics and talked about drawing the animals, trying to get the angles and proportions right, etc. Then we settled down to sketch.

Cat sketch in progress

There are times, rare and marvelous times, when I sit down to sketch and the lines just seem to flow on the page with little effort. This was not one of those times! Trying to figure out what’s beneath all that fur, getting the angles right, double and triple checking measurements, and then erasing it and starting over again. That’s how my night went. But thank God I love a challenge! I get riled up and refuse to quit. I refuse to let the sketch defeat me. :)


Linda stopped by as she made her way around the room and she was able to pinpoint what was messing me up. I knew something was up around the mouth area, but just couldn’t figure out what was going on. Once she took a look and steered me in the right direction, things started going much, much better.

Final cat sketch

I spent the last bit of the night working out the last of the kinks. By the time class was over, I was quite happy with the results. I gathered up my things, hopped in the car, and stopped for some Haagen Daz on my way home. :) I figured all that hard work deserved a little treat!

Tomorrow during my lunch hour and before class, I’ll be playing around with different background ideas. The thing is, my favorite idea involves adding yet another creature to the painting. LOL! I guess I really do just like to challenge myself. :) Then once I get to class tomorrow night, we’ll begin the process of sketching the drawing onto the canvas, or gessobord in my case, using the paints. So yes, I get to do it all again!

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