Did I Hear There Was Milk?

tortoiseshell cat curved in bath

Graceful Kelly

Kelly shapes herself into a graceful curve in mid-bath as I open the refrigerator door.

I don’t give my cats milk very often, but Kelly gets on these kicks where she demands it whenever I open the refrigerator door. I don’t usually give it to her, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask because every now and then, on my silly whim, out comes the little milk dish and Kelly gets a treat.

But Kelly is just so pretty here bathing gracefully in front of the plants. In fact, Kelly is graceful no matter what she does.

And I think it may be time for me to grab that sketchbook as often as the camera since I’ve been visualizing sketches and paintings in greater detail every day. I used to sketch something each day, often it was my cats though it might be an interior scene or something in my yard, usually in pencil, but sometimes in other media, just to keep my fingers in the mix. So much has happened in the last few months it’s been difficult to focus on quick sketches, which demand more attention than larger works, though for shorter periods of time.

So I decided to use a little help from PhotoShop to see what Kelly would look like in a rough, impressionistic sketch. I used the same photo as above, applied the “dry brush” filter and made the brush strokes fairly large. But the filters in PhotoShop don’t produce a realistic effect. If I was teaching I would grade the products of PS filters around the mid-range, but then it’s a computer making the decisions, and creative effort is one area of human endeavor where a computer will never produce work as individual and insightful as a human being.

For instance, I work in pastel, but I’ve never seen anyone produce a pastel sketch or painting anything like what PS produces with its “rough pastels” filter, but the “dry brush” filter is somewhat like what I’d visualize in pastel. But it looked a little dull so I also had to fool around with the contrast and brightness, and I also added a 35% deep yellow “photo filter” to warm it up a bit.

Still, I want highlights and deep rich areas, and I want to see orange in Kelly and green in the plants and it just wasn’t happening, even when I went back and adjusted the original photo. I think I’d also take the red from the medallion at the top and from the bricks and add it elsewhere in the painting so everything wasn’t in basic earth tones. Those are the artistic judgments I’d make before I even started, and it never ceases to amaze me how far I wander from my reference images while painting, and yet the finished painting is perfectly acceptable. Guess I’d better get out the pastels. In the time I’d spent on this I could have had a passable sketch done! But still, this gets the little painterly cells firing in my brain. And right now Kelly is over there meowing for her dinner, so I’d better get to it.

photoshop effect on photo

A painterly version of the same scene.

3 Comments on “Did I Hear There Was Milk?”

  1. Chris Davis says:

    What a stunning girl!

  2. Ingrid King says:

    What a beautiful photo of a beautiful kitty!

    • animalartist says:

      I think Kelly is your favorite here! Truly, if you met her, you would find her hard to resist. I’m so glad that long-ago person decided to save her from euthanasia just because she was shy and frightened.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s