Two black cats

Stuck for something to draw quickly today, I ended up looking at our cat, Peat, curled up peacefully. Why not? He was in that deep afternoon slumber which usually means very little movement for quite some time. I decided to mix it up a bit by getting out my brown paper sketchbook, and working in ink.

For a while I’ve been thinking about putting some Indian ink into a waterbrush to see how I get on, and I finally acted on that. Getting the ink in was a bit of a trial (tips and tricks gratefully received – I don’t have a tiny funnel). I’d previously had water in the brush, and although I’d emptied and shaken it, it wasn’t really dry as I added the ink. This meant that for the first few minutes of sketching with the brush the ink came out rather dilute. Doh! But even that’s got it’s own character.

Peat’s a totally black cat, which gave me some challenges when trying to show the play of light on his fur, and his shape. The brown paper doesn’t take a lot of liquid before bleeding through, so in the end I didn’t get the blacks as dark as I’d have liked.

Peat ink 1

I tried a quick second sketch, intending just to do a line drawing, but made some poor decisions about how to show the rear haunch. This spurred creativity as I tried to fix it,  and settled on going for an approach where anything less than 50% shaded I left uncoloured, and any area over 50% shaded became black. It’s produced quite a graphic feel, which I rather like.

Peat ink 2


28 thoughts on “Two black cats

  1. Love the second one, Rebecca! Really gorgeous work! I hope you keep trying your cat because our black cat passed in May of ’14 and I’ve wanted to bring him to life on the page now for quite some time. He too is all black and I find that a huge challenge. I only have one photo in which all of his features can clearly be seen. Every time I attempt drawing him, well suffice it to say those pieces never make the blog. I’m quite sure I’ll be able to learn something from what you’re doing. Quite a challenge. I keep thinking all I need is a really good photo of a black animal. Do you think it’s that simple? I’ve found white animals much easier. But they’ve not been as white as the black animals I’ve seen are black. I hope we see more of your cat! There’s something really satisfying about drawing a cat (particularly a sleeping one, so peaceful). 💛

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    • Thank you Laura. It’s always sad when you lose an animal from your life, so I understand why you’d like to make a portrait of him. I think it’s very hard to capture the feeling of an animal you have known well. I’ve tried drawing Peat before – but a profile seems rather less difficult than face-on. I guess as always the challenge is to look very hard at identifying the areas of dark vs light (which are still there, even though our brains try to tell us otherwise), and which create shape in what’s otherwise quite a featureless expanse of black fur! Keep on trying – it’s obvious you’re making giant strides. I look forward to the day you feel able to present your cat to the world. 🙂 Meanwhile, I’m sure I’ll return to draw my cats…they are magnetic to the eye.

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      • Thank you, Rebecca, and your other one is wonderful too. How many cats do you have? Ink was a really good choice! I’m determined to master black animals. I think finding an area on which to focus is really huge for me right now. If you think about the endless challenges out there in oodles of faces, both animal and human, you could just buzz around the room with it. I can’t stop drawing, I draw whenever I have a minute to sit. Black animals are the hardest thing I’ve tried, but I’m pretty determined. Cats are wonderful subjects, so much grace and freedom in their lines. I’ve never found anything more peaceful than a sleeping cat. Looking forward to more, but honestly whatever you do is wonderful to me. Glad to see you posting again!

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      • We have two cats at the moment Laura, a black lad (Peat) and a ginger girl (Erik), brother and sister. They are both tricky to draw in their own way. I really admire your determination to focus and improve in one area, since I just do whatever grabs me at the time. You’re right, sleeping cats are super, not least because they are enviable in their dedication to the cause! 😉

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      • Lol, nobody does it better! Thanks, Rebecca! I like both of your paintings today, by the way, just really love the second one. I think you captured the form perfectly. Having cats most all my life, you’d think they’d be easier subjects, but I don’t find them easy. They’re a challenge and I think you’ve done a great job. It’s nice you have two siblings! I would love to see a picture of your ginger cat. Is she on the blog at all? I’ve been drawn to gingers lately. I do think it’s easier to draw other people’s animals than our own.

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      • Haha, I like the second one better too, although my husband prefers the first. Each to their own. As you’ve guessed, Erik is on my blog – go to the Welcome page and select Cat from the ‘Things to look at’ category dropdown and you’ll find a couple of posts featuring her. She’s gorgeous, and has a sweet nature to match (unlike her brother). Maybe it’s easier to draw other people’s animals because we know our own so well and can tell immediately if we don’t get it *quite* right… 😉

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    • I’ve such a lot to learn! I’m thinking about filling a couple more brush pens with say a 50% and 25% ink mix to give some other options – any thoughts? Thanks for your encouragement. 🙂


  2. I love both of your cats! I agree black cats are the hardest to paint, I’m forever attempting to draw my black cat but end up giving in. Well done for sticking with it, the results are great 😊

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  3. Both are lovely and have that lovely slumberous feeling that can only come from a snoozing cat! I really like the style of the second, very graphic indeed; it’s fun to visualise those dark areas reforming as he stirs and stretches. It would make a nice stop-motion! 😉

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