Fletch is my elderly cat. A tabby with a flabby belly that we have had since he was 6 weeks old. He’s now 17 and is so rarely seen that visitors to the house ask if he is still alive. Taking the lessons I learned from the Christina Langman tutorial on fur and eyes (Snow Leopard), I worked on a painting of Fletch, taken from my own reference photo. Again, no work-in-progress shots but I do have notes with this painting.
I began this piece on Daler-Rowney Murano paper in a sort of sandy shade. This paper is best used for pastel/pastel pencils but it’s toothy and robust, ideal for coloured pencil. Plus you can layer the pigment without abusing the paper, ideal for my heavy hand.
I used Faber-Castell’s Polychromos for Fletch. These are oil-based pencils and don’t suffer from the dreaded wax bloom. I began sketching the outline on tracing paper, relined on the reverse in pencil then transferred the outline to the Murano paper. I began with the nose, layering Red Violet, Burnt Carmine, Light Flesh, Pompeian Red, Mid Cadium Red, and Cinnamon. I blended with the White Polychromo.
Next, I embossed the whiskers. Using a Derwent Embosser, which is a wee metal tool with a little metal bead at the end, I ‘draw’ in the whiskers, pushing the paper back so that when I paint over with layers of coloured pencil, the dent of the whiskers remain, making it easier to fill in the whiskers with white at a later time. Think of the way moviedetectives find out what was written on the notepad. It’s impossible to get a true white for whiskers on top of layers of coloured pencil and the embossing technique works beautifully.
The fur is blend of Brown Ochre, Dark Sepia (is this my favourite pencil?), Ivory, Cold Grey 2 & 3, Cream, Burnt Sienna, Terracotta, Sanguine, Warm Grey 1, Burnt Olive, Walnut Brown, Light Flesh, White, Olive Green Yellowish, Cold Grey 6.
The eyes, left to last and my favourite area to paint, were a local colour of Green Gold, with May Green touches and a selection of browns from the fur choices. And I learned my lesson – white Caran D’Ache Neocolor II for the reflection/highlight.
Lastly, I filled in the embossed whiskers with the White Polychromo. So what do I think now of my little Fletch? Well, I love the eyes, the fur… I need to be lighter with my touch. I can see the pencil marks and it ain’t fluffy. Neither’s Fletch now to be fair, coarse old-age hair has set in, but let’s remember him in his prime eh?
Daler-Rowney Murano, Faber Castell Polychromos, 14×11.5cm