Smile more!

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Here’s my brown tabby, who follows me everywhere. He’s happiest when he knows where I am and likes to occasionally let me know how sharp his teeth are with what I’d like to believe are “love bites.” To create this portrait completed in a few hours, I first loosely paint the pale shadows across his white fur and palest color around his eyes and nose, as seen in the image below:

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Then the pale background wash is applied as negative space to the white whiskers and fur, but very quickly and without much concern about accuracy.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger
All images ©Bivenne Staiger

When the first background wash is dry, I add a few whimsical design elements from my imagination with frisket (perhaps not particularly obvious here) and let that dry before loosely adding a darker value behind him. Again, the whiskers are revealed through negative space painting. They could also be scraped out from damp paint.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Now the fur markings are added with a round brush in large spaces and a script brush in smaller. A large brush is used to add the local mouth color as a single shape. Several layers of pale blue suggest form around his head and mouth area. Form is key for realistic representational painting, though sometimes shadows and lighting are so subtle that nuances are difficult to discern. But an understanding of your subject helps develop such gradation.

Big Yawn, Watercolor, 11×15″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2020

Darks pull the whole painting together. Frisket is lifted away and other whimisical marks are painted as positive shapes to finalize this piece.pait

2 thoughts on “Smile more!

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