For Throwback Thursday, here is the "how-to paint a cat" from August 28, 2017. I still use this method with a few variations.  As I type this additional paragraph to update the post, I have finished one wood slice commission for Christmas 2019 (coming soon on the blog)...and have three canvases prepped for larger commissions, all dogs. I am doing happy dance here because clients are ordering in advance of the busiest season!

How I paint a cat: the steps to a finished product

In this post, I demonstrate the step-by-step process of painting a cat. While working on any portrait I take many photos of the process leading to the finished product.

"If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. " ~ Mark Twain.

Cats do seem very purposeful wouldn't you say? Especially so when their owner wants something from them such as a good photo.

Cat owners must be very patient, not to mention wily, maybe offering a little toy or treat, in order to take just the right photo of their pet.  Kiwi, like most cats, has a bit of an independent, catch-me-if-you-can streak.

When my godson recently reached a milestone birthday, I felt I had to mark the event with something special.

After going through many photographs on two Instagram accounts, his and his partner's, and seeing oh so many cute photos of Kiwi, I knew he would appreciate a painting of his well-loved cat!

I was searching for a different pose than the ones I had done of previous animals so I chose one of Kiwi looking up as though in expectation of a treat.

Or maybe he heard the can opener and is waiting for his moist food to be plopped in his bowl.

Whatever it is, I loved this photo of sweet Kiwi taken by Julie N.

painting cat process - first step

Above is the gallery wrapped canvas that has been painted a mix of yellow and green and an outline of the cat has been sketched on the canvas with a blue Stabilo All Aquarellable pencil. I then added some white acrylic to start marking the shapes.

comparison image as part of the sketching process

This is the photo I printed to guide me as I painted. After adding white to the Stabilo blue, I have lost some of the shapes within the cat on canvas so it is necessary to go back and recover the blurred or lost lines before adding colour. This is the first push/pull feel of the painting. Or you might know this as one step forward, two steps back.  A normal process of any art work.

In order to achieve a likeness, first the shapes must be accurate, and then I strive for accuracy in colour although I do allow myself some liberties. Adding unexpected colours here and there bumps up the interest in the end result.

roughing in of colours for cat portrait

Above, I have started roughing in the colours.

comparison between image and painting

At this point of the process, I will spend lots of time comparing the photos, adjusting colours, and shapes. I might even make changes. Notice the difference with the tail from the photo to the portrait?

Working on all the fine details such as whiskers, little wisps of fur, glints of light here and there, is always the most time consuming part of the whole process, but also the most enjoyable part for me.  

"Kiwi" - acrylic portrait of cat on 5 x7" gallery wrapped canvas

Gallery wrapped canvas - no frame required.

I really like gallery wrapped canvases such as the one I used for Kiwi. There is no need for a frame which can be very expensive not to mention difficult to find.  How many times have I searched for frames and not found exactly what I wanted!  Too many times!  No such problem with this type of canvas as it is ready to hang as is.

I used the same type of canvas for several of my recent pet portraits such as here, June is butterflies, flowers, shade, and one relaxed dog

and here Schapendoes or Dutch Sheep Dog; commission painting

"Kiwi the cat" - 5 x 7" acrylic painting on gallery wrapped canvas

Kiwi the cat wrapping paper and sticker

Kiwi was wrapped in paper my hubby created using the Avery template for stickers that we bought at Walmart. In the envelope are the stickers themselves.

I think that stickers made professionally would be better than the Avery brand we used, but I wanted to experiment. The colours are not as vivid as in the actual painting and the stickers are dull so if I got them made elsewhere I would be looking for a glossy finish.

Kiwi the cat portrait being unwrapped

The reveal...

Kiwi the cat portrait


For information on commission paintings, please send me a message.  At this moment, I am accepting commissions for November 2019.

Visit my Custom Pet Portrait page for information and to see a portfolio of different styles of pet portraits.  Also, wood slice portraits are available and were very popular last year at Christmas time.

This is a gift that is appreciated on any occasion. It is truly something unique and memorable to give to someone special or as a keepsake for yourself.

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