Alphapets: E F G and H

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The Alphapets portrait project this week is brought to you by the letters E, F, G and H. My abecedarian poem to go with these letters and artwork :

Everett often warbles with glee

Farley is so easy to please

Gingerbread loves days when it’s snowed

Henry is sure he’s cracked the code

Here’s the artwork (somewhere on each piece is an alphabetical letter):

I did portraits of a Siamese cat, a poodle, an Alaskan Malamute and a tabby cat. While working I thought of a friends Siamese cat who “sings” constantly and I combined that with a memory of being in college art school which was next door to the music building and often hearing music as I went to class. While working on the poodle I remembered a poodle I knew in the 1970’s and the decor from that era – for some reason poodle haircuts remind me of the 70s. The Alaskan Malamute was inspired by a fairly recent portrait I’d done of a special person’s special dog – and I, too, love seeing snow. I am currently owned by a tabby cat who, I’m fairly sure, has this human figured out (and wrapped around his dew-claw).

All of this artwork was created with ink, gouache and color pencil. I love the forgiveness of gouache, the opacity of it, the buttery-smooth feel of working with it. It brightens my quarantine-days to make these Alphapets pieces – hope it brightens your day to see them.


If you’re just joining us the previous post is here. My Alphapets project is aiming to be both an art exhibit and an artist book. With framing eventually done by Aurora Gallery and Frameshop. https://auroragalleryonline.com/ as part of the Ambassador for Small Frames program. I want to eventually bring them all together in a book – with my abecedarian poem. More of poem will be revealed on each Monday’s post as I get more of the artwork done. More of my artist books are here.

Anyway, see you next Monday with more letters…

oh my gouache: learning new art media with cats

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art

As I posted recently (here) I’ve been playing around with a new-to-me art media: gouache.

Here’s my process of learning a new art media:

  1. Read 3 or 4 different sources that describe how to work in the media. While I’m reading I’m looking for “basic best practices” as well as what the “chief virtues” or strengths of the medium art and whether it’s advertised virtues might meet my needs.
  2. I look at artworks by other artists that use the medium. It’s best if I can see the art in real life – but seeing reproductions online or in books is helpful too.  I was lucky enough to get to see some real-life works using gouache at the Portland Art Museum (see my last post)
  3. Buy the best quality medium  materials that I can find.  I went with Holbien Artist Gouache. It’s a company that’s been around a while and the primary mixing gouache set I got for the initial test is professional quality. (I did not get the “Holbien Acryla Gouache” as it is more like acrylic and would not be helpful for my purposes)
  4. When I get new medium materials I do something with them as soon as I get them home. Even if all I do is put some paints on a palette and make a few marks. I find that the sooner I start the better my chances of developing a new habit/ability instead of having “something I always meant to try”.
  5. Then once I’ve dabbled a bit I’ll take a subject matter that I’ve done fairly well using other mediums. I use that subject for the first 3 or 4 times and render it as well as I can in the new medium.  This way I can focus on the details, methods and possibilities of the new medium rather than thinking of subject matter too.

Here’s what I did with my new gouache set (the primary mixing set) plus a few extra colors I knew I’d need (since I draw a lot of animals I knew I needed browns).

I picked the sheet music because the paper is very thin and fragile – even more thin than the paper in my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook. So I reasoned that if the paints worked fairly well on the sheet music then I’d be able to use them on other thin papers.

I picked Siamese cats as a subject because they’re, well, musical.

The result of my test? Oh my! I think I may be falling in love with gouache!