Paintings and Drawings of Cats

Real Cats: Bitty

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The painting above I made from a photo of cat on a rock in a pond - it was such a cool photo, I had to ask - how did the cat get there? And, why would she ever leave the rock? The rock seemed like such a cool place to be, surrounded by water and flower petals. 

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Real Cats: Marl

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I wanted to make a painting of my cousin's cat, Marl, who is a striped cat with beautiful markings. It was fun to paint Marl basking in the sun on a checkered carpet, it was especially fun to paint Marl's little footpads. 

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^ Here is Marley Cat hanging out at my cousin's place. 

Real Cats: Flash

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One day in Houston at my grandpa's house, a mostly white kitten appeared and stopped by to eat the kibbles of grandpa's much older cat, Xena. Fairly common in Houston, stray cats tend to come and go -  everyone in the family was expecting the wayward white kitten to move on to another house, but the kitten decided to stay. The kitten would appear intermittently and would race about the yard, and so the family named the kitten "Flash." He was fully adopted and now has his shots/tags and is overall here to stay. I made the above drawing of Flash in the garden, and the below drawing of Flash in Clip Studio Paint. Flash is white, but I reimagined him as a cat in the shade. 

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Imaginary Cats

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I started out this series of colorful cats in oil with a sort of "Wayne Thiebaud Cakes, but with Cats" kind of take. The thick oil paint makes the bright colors stand out quite a bit. I'd love to do more in this sereis with non-pale backgrounds, maybe more with leaves/foliage or household surroundings. Overall these were just fun to make. 

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Painting this cat's feet was fun. ^ At this level of thickness in paint, the paint takes on a sculptural quality, and I'm not even painting so much as sculpting or building dimensional form. I often start out paintings like this with a small undersketch in orange (so that it is easy to see) and then I fill out the full-bodied paint forms from there. It's interesting how no matter what kind of paintings you make, it all starts with the foundation of drawing. 

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Cats but with watercolor or acrylic ink. 

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For Inktober 2017 I made the cat above, what's interesting is people see a lot of different shapes in this cat. It's a bit like a cloud in this way.

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Several cats also make an appearance in Tilted Sun, a sci-fi fantasy comic that you can check out on TiltedSun.com. 

Four Key Takeaways from The Keys by DJ Khaled (For artists!)

Here are my Four The Key takeaways from The Keys: 

 

1. 🔑 Major Key: Stay Fresh.

"If you want to be treated like a boss, you've got to look the part." 

DJ Khaled even says it's good to get a haircut twice a week. The logic here is, you never know when you will get a chance to prove yourself. You might meet Jay-Z tomorrow and you should have great hair at all times just in case. Although Khaled does recognize that not all of us can afford twice-a-week haircuts (until we've made it, that is), he is a huge ally for self care and respecting yourself through dress.

This does make sense for your everyday visual artist - while I prefer to have paint-splattered clothes in the studio, it is nice to add a good piece here or there for wearing to shows and museums. 8) 

 

2. 🔑 Major Key: Pick up the Phone.

Khaled tells us: "If you have a situation, you pick up the phone. You set up a meeting and you talk among grown men and grown women." 

It's easy to resonate with this major key because... sometimes you can't solve everything through email, Twitter, or chat. It's much better to pick up the phone, take time, listen, and solve problems as grown men and grown women.

While Khaled loves Snapchat, he isn't the biggest fan of social media or the culture of online witchhunts. "I can't imagine a bigger waste of time. Who has all this energy to stir things up? People who aren't successful and people who aren't working hard, that's who."

I loved this piece of advice from DJ Khaled because, as artists, we need to work on our work - stirring up trouble online is a short term game to win attention. Good work and solid art are the keys to longterm success. 

 The book THEY don't want you to read

The book THEY don't want you to read

 

3. 🔑 Major Key: Real Talk, Don't Jetski at night.

Just search Youtube for DJ Khaled Jetski Night. You'll see why this is a Major Key. 

The incident of the jetski at nighttime also made DJ Khaled more famous. When Khaled got lost on the water and started up his SnapChat app to document the experience, it showed that he cared about his fans and that his fans cared about him. When he was in trouble, he couldn't call the police, he couldn't exactly call home... but he could call his fans in the time where he needed them most. Like the poet Saul Williams once said, Vulnerability is Power.

Yet... be careful about Jetskiing at night.

 Art I made in 2015 of DJ Khaled Jetskiing at night

Art I made in 2015 of DJ Khaled Jetskiing at night

As far as how to not jetski at night as an artist ... I suppose it is a matter of having fun and taking risks, but not taking too many risks. 

4. 🔑 Major Key: Keep Two Rooms Cooking at the Same Time.

In this chapter, DJ Khaled reveals that as a producer, artist, and CEO, he knows how to do every job, even the smallest, most menial jobs in his organization. He stays humble. Knowing all the parts of the machine and working on at least two projects at once keeps up the momentum in his production studio. 

In our world where focusing is as prized as gold, and where industries push their best and brightest into hyper-specializations, it is nice to know that at the end of the day, it's not only okay to be a renaissance man, or a jack-of-all trades ... but... it's cool. It's a good thing to have experience in every dimension of your business. It's okay to take on more than one project at once. In fact, crossovers of knowledge and overlaps in projects can fuse together and make the most rare and valuable beat of them all: something new.

The practice of keeping two rooms cooking at the same time works for visual art as well. When the paint is drying, it's good to start another painting or pick up a new drawing. With the technology and resources that are available today, artists are able to be so multidisciplined. #D animators can be poets, collage artists are businessowners, and sculptors are painters. Never limit yourself. Or, as Khaled would say "Don't play yourself."

David Hockney at the Metropolitan Museum

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Despite the fact that this show will close in about seven days, The David Hockney retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum was packed to the gills.

Usually, the best time to see an art show is long after opening night, where you can stand in a gallery and look at a painting for several seconds without interruption or without being aware of people. It's nice to get lost in art.

Very few things are more annoying than someone walking in front of you while viewing a painting, and rest assured - I annoyed as many people as annoyed me at this David Hockney show. I was only able to get the photos for this article because I am fairly tall and I can hold my iPhone high above everyone else. 

Solitude is just not going to happen at a David Hockney show. He's too wildly famous. He's too good. And more, he has something for everyone. 

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 Hashtag Showerthoughts... 

Hashtag Showerthoughts... 

Hockney's earliest paintings shown in the show aren't even depicted here - the first gallery after entering the exhibit happened to collect the worst Hockneys I have ever seen, pieces that the artist had done as a young art student that were quite bad.

I wish I had taken a couple photos of the 'Bad Hockneys' to prove that there is Life after Art School, but, everyone already knows that, I hope. If anything, the muddy gray Bad Hockneys existed solely to help attendees appreciate the later Hockney even more.

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Hockney made a couple of these shower paintings, a resplendently gay take on bather motifs from Degas. 

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With Hockney it's easy to forget he is using acrylic paint, and as he was painting the above Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy in the early 70s, he would have been one of the earliest painters working successfully with the medium.

Though just as bright and as pigmented as oil, fast-drying acrylic doesn't blend or save itself for later. Acrylic favors fast thinkers, fast action, and commitment. If you make a mistake in acrylic, you have to paint over the mistake with no blendability into the bottom failed layer -  and mistakes can stack up quickly.

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In these realistic paintings, Hockney is a master of drybrushing and scumbling acrylic in order to create atmospheric light. The wall behind Mr. Clark isn't a plain brown, but a sienna with slate blue and green brushed over in smoky clusters. 

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As you get closer to these large paintings, the imperfections show up a bit more - the checkered backing of the chair isn't made up of perfect Lichtensteinian dots. The base of the lamp above is a bit wonky, but the phone is entirely convincing. This is Hockney's magic - not everything is perfect, but we know enough, and we are impressed enough by the color,  to let it slide. 

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This Hockney Pool painting, or as I refer to it in my mind: "The most SoCal Thing That Has Ever Existed" allows similar up-close imperfections to emerge. I always thought of the painting as a realistic piece, but for some reason, in person, it is more like looking at a painting of a unicorn.

The unicorn feeling is less present in the pool painting below, given the absence of any fancy people.

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The show also collected some of Hockney's drawings. Hockney is great at capturing faces, hands, feelings, and fashion. In the three drawings below, each sitter has incredibly expressive hands.

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In the book "That's Thee Way I See It" Hockney discusses a series of painted portraits he made of his friends, eventually revealing that none of his friends really liked the paintings he had made of them. These drawings I feel must be different than the paintings, I feel that these subjects must have really liked the drawings. Either that, or they must have been difficult to impress!

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The show included a couple of Hockney's paintings of the Grand Canyon - both perfect in the way that the canyon takes up the entire canvas, and the sky is just a small stripe of blue, if anything. I had to love Hockney's use of pale purple and blue on the red canyon walls. 

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In Hockney's more abstract landscapes, it's hard to know exactly what is going on. The primary and high-key colors attack the eyes.

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Abstractions considered, we all know that Hockney can reel it in with landscape paintings like the one above. Overall that is what I like most about Hockney's work - it's studied, it knows where it is going, yet it is also so free.

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