How to paint a short haired cat

I was commissioned to paint Gumdrops the cat for fellow blogger, Kate. I thought it would look really striking on a tall thin canvas, walking proudly, tail in the air.

To Create a painting of a short haired cat, you will need:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Large flat paintbrushes
  • Small rounded brushes
  • Play mat
  • Water
  • Palette (or foil case)
  • Canvas (I used 75cm x 30 cm)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Photo to copy.

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Gumdrops was posted off to Gibraltar, and has safely arrived with the proud owner.
I got this lovely email, which just makes my work SO worthwhile!

“I’ve collected Gumdrops the painting and he’s wonderful! .. you’ve really captured his essence .. thank you so much for all the skill, care and attention you’ve put into this lovely painting :)”

Refer

 

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So you want them to actually READ your CV?

I, Imi Woods, Animal Artist, have given myself a metaphorical kick up the backside and decided to start contacting galleries, shops and (gulp) agents.

I looked up “How to write an Artist’s CV” on Google.
It depressed the hell out of me.

“Avoid any formatting at all if possible. No columns, tabs, multiple spaces, words all in caps, quotation marks, or bold formatting. The only formatting needed is italics for exhibition names, article titles and prize names. Stick to one typeface for the entire document. Preferably something simple like Arial or Times Roman. Leave creativity for the art. The CV needs clarity.”

As a self-trained, as yet barely exhibited young Artist… I don’t yet have the facts to speak for me. I have passion, raw talent, beautiful paintings and lots of happy customers… but not the lists of Relevant Education, Exhibitions at the Tate or MoMA, Associations, Publications and Awards that they are really looking for. Sorry, I forgot, I do have the Year 9 Art Prize and I write a blog. I’ll be sure to put that on my CV…

I know that I am going places… I just need a leg up to get on the ladder.

So here are my tips for creating a memorable and interesting CV. The sort of CV that will help the Emerging Artist who doesn’t yet have all the facts to talk for them. It might just get you to the top of the pile… or at least keep you away from the bottom.
Feel free to use ideas from my CV below if you would like.
Please note, this is applicable to other industries too!

print screen of CV

1. Design an interesting layout. Note: a few columns and bullets does not mean interesting. Challenge yourself! Using a table format in Microsoft Word is easy and keeps all of your information in the right place. Keep it clean and functional… but with a bit of pizazz. I put a column going down the left hand side with my name and job title, separated by a block line.

2. Use a bit of colour. I know, not everyone is like me and excited by colours. But one colour as a strong theme running through the CV will draw the eye directly to your CV for the right reasons.

3. Be creative with photographs. This is what is the biggest selling point of my CV. I cut the background out of a photograph of me next to my Artist’s Statement and put it into greyscale. I virtually framed a couple of my paintings too. They are my biggest selling point at the moment, so I see no reason for them not to be put onto my CV. I also cut out the background of a photograph of me painting. I kept the painting in full colour, and greyscaled myself. I guess it says “my art speaks for me”.

4. Do your research about where you are applying to. Angle your CV to bring out qualities that are important to that institution. But don’t fabricate information, tell the facts as they are.

5. Keep your CV focussed. Don’t be a Jack of all trades but a Master of none. I cut out the paragraph detailing my current work on this CV. I feel I have learned a lot in my role as a Submissions Assistant, but can see how galleries would fail to see the relevance.

6. Oh my gosh, proof read your CV! Or get someone else to. Learn how to use that apostrophe correctly. Learn the difference between you’re and your. It’s not that difficult!

7. Show your enthusiasm. I know. Risky.
But right now, my enthusiasm is what is getting me places. People like enthusiastic, friendly people and want to work with them and give them opportunities. On applying for a display space recently in Reading, I was incredibly enthusiastic. Embarassingly so. I was excitable and probably showed my naivety, but received the following as a reply:

“You sound a really enthusiastic and friendly person, just what we need!! Look forward to meeting you soon, oh, and don’t change a thing, you’re fine as you are!”

Wouldn’t you rather buy artwork from someone who loves what they do than someone who is just doing it to pay the bills? I know I would.

*Disclaimer: I don’t know if this will work. Please don’t blame me if you follow my tips and your CV does get put to the bottom of the pile. Maybe galleries and agents are not kindred spirits. Maybe they really do want lists and no formatting. It’s surely worth a shot though, right?

Going off photo when the photo is… off

Caution: the following includes an artist with a serious case of “a bad workman blames his tools” syndrome.

As an artist who strives to get animals as accurate as I possibly can,
going off-photo goes against all my principals. 

Funnily enough, it is only when I perceive the photograph to be “wrong” that painting stops being a lovely relaxing experience that comes naturally to me.

Instead, it can instantly become stressful, and I can be heard muttering “hate this stupid dog / eye / leg / insert anything here”.

It’s at that point that I know that a quick fix is not possible. The photograph looks all wrong, and to avoid my painting looking all wrong, I have to go off book, or find a new bit of photograph to copy.

Exhibit A… the loveliest little King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Bertie.
bertie

Look at his lovely face, fluffy ears and glinty eyes.
Awww. That makes for a lovely relaxing painting session, with a hint of a challenge.

Now scroll back up and look at those legs.
What the heck is going on there???
They are all over the place!

Paws are conveniently cropped out of the image, so I can’t really even work out what is back leg and front leg, what is body and what is tail.

I am left stumped as to what is going on and to how on earth I will paint this random assortment of white limbs.

So I painted it as per the photograph.

And as expected, it looked all wrong.

My own mother gave herself the role of “Quality Control” and told me I needed to change it.

Grumble Grumble.

I love painting, but I don’t love repainting a painting that I thought was a finished painting.

 Back to the drawing board!!

How to paint long grass in acrylic

I have already written a How to paint grass guide here.
It may surprise you to know that this is my most popular post ever, so I thought I would write another focussing on long grass. It is a different technique and a new skill to learn after all.

You will need:

  • Paint for Grass: Sap Green, Olive Green, Burgandy, Violet, Lemon Yellow, Raw Umber, burnt umber, black, etc.
  • A Canvas –  I use 30cmx40cm as standard
  • Playmat – I use a big old plastic table cloth
  • Paintbrushes – a large flat one and a variety of small round ones.
  • A pot of water
  • A palette – I use foil cases from quiches.
  • A photograph to copy – I have mine up on my laptop screen with gridlines drawn on
  • A pencil
  • A ruler.

Canvas Preparation

1. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same.

2. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

Painting Long Grass

1. Create a colour wash over the grass area in a watered down sap green using a large flat brush.

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Here you can see the watery wash over the background

2. Start to pick out areas of light and dark with a small rounded paintbrush. Use gentle dabbing with your paintbrush in a watery white to create little soft focus flowers.

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In the right hand corner you can see the beginnings of flowers

3. Pay attention to the direction of the grass, and use a variety of watery shades and a quick sweeping  movement to get that feeling of motion.

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Here you can see the grass being blown around through the directions of my brushstrokes

4. Make glints of sunlight with a Rich Gold paint, and break up dark shadow with longer strands of grass in paler colours 

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Have a look at part 2 – Finishing the Golden Retriever. 
I haven’t yet given her to her owner so can’t ruin the surprise on here!!