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Forget the Cat: What About the Background?


I met Rickey Tikki Tavi's family years ago on a trip I made to Ohio. His sisfur Parker had a pawpular blog, and through that I met his family IRL. Rickey was a sweetie, and I tried to memorialize that after he went to The Bridge a few weeks ago.


I had to try several versions of a background before I felt one was finally going to work. I had decided to keep it simple, just a subtle abstract that set off RTT's obsidian coloring and brilliant green-gold eyes. This was the 2nd background version I tried as I was working on the initial underpainting:

It became obvious that the "shrill" yellow/orange version above would take focus away from the subject. A few more layers (aka poor choices) later, I decided that seafoam green and a cadmium yellow or orange would work if toned down a bit with a gauzy layer of white. (The titanium white paint was applied in small dots on the canvas, then tamped with my fingers.)

Then I used an acrylic paint pen to add some fur detail (see first photo above.). Because he is black, I opted to use violet (and a tiny bit of blue) to the fur pattern so that there is some contrast with the black fur.

The final touch? I added a cat tarot card featuring a fellow house panther. Beads spell out his name below.


I couldn't get other photos to show off the detail in his fur, so the finished product depicts him as a big black blob, which he decidedly is not.


Don't give me the "Good Art Won't Match Your Sofa," line in response to my choosing colors compatible with their's. Geez, it's just cat art; we're not at MOMA! RTT's family immediately hung him on a yellow wall that matched beautifully!