Over the Shoulder

Over the Shoulder

Over the Shoulder • 30″ x 20″ • 2015

This one’s another commission from my friend Kevin. Merry Christmas Allie!

I worked from an Instagram photo of her two cats before a windowsill. The layout was the first challenge. Since the original photo was square, I mocked up a few options in landscapes and portrait orientations. This landscape option gave it a little more room to breathe, and is closer to what an observer would see. I made some small adjustments to the composition to remove a few ambiguous objects (between the cats, and on the far right), add a little more separation between the cats for a better silhouette, and scooted the vase over a bit.

The second challenge was getting an accurate sketch of the perspective. Between the windowsills and the blinds, I spent a little extra time on the sketch to be sure I got it right. This painting is a bit larger than I usually work so I used my massive T-square (3 feet long) to make the sketch. It’s so big I often only use it for mat cutting…or retrieving things that have rolled away under furniture. Nice to use it for its intended purpose!

Since the lighting is so bright, I used a few additional reference photos of the cats to get the colors right. They have a light tan undercoat with grayish stripes. The stippling texture I’ll often use in details worked out well here for their coloration. One of the most interesting parts to paint was the tabletop due to the window and vase reflections. I also enjoyed painting the cats, and in particular getting the ear positions right. They’re definitely listening here.

Original photo

Original photo

Initial sketch

Initial sketch

Yellow ochre

Yellow ochre

Burnt sienna

Burnt sienna

Burnt umber

Burnt umber

Adding blues

Adding blues

Green wash

Green wash

Adding reds

Adding reds

Blinds details

Blinds details

Cat lighting detail

Cat lighting detail

Blue cast

Blue cast

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