Daily Archives: June 6, 2012

Shadow Cat


"Shadow Cat", mixed media by Kerry McFall

This is a cat who is no longer a kitten, a cat of unexpected consequences.  I set out to sketch from a photo I stumbled into online of a fluffy yellow kitten, all wide-eyed innocence.  (I would credit the photographer, but I can’t find it again on the Internet and I vaguely remember it was by someone using a pseudonym that had the word flowers in it.  Sorry!)  I saw the photo and immediately thought – hey, cool shadows.  Very exaggerated.  Wonder if I could make that work?  Without even making so much as a pencil guideline for placing the eyes, I grabbed my Pentel brush pen, drew a border, and slapped on a couple of whiskers.  Footdang – too bold to capture the kittenish fluff.  But I was already committed, so I kept going.  Not bad, but with each stroke the cat got older, further and further away from generic cute kitty.  Closer and closer to a real personality.  Interesting.

I switched to colored pencil, then watercolor.  The watercolor wash wasn’t dark enough, and the paper wouldn’t take another wet layer, so I let it dry and switched back to dark colored pencil.  Still too pale.  Back to the brush pen – bingo!  I don’t think I’ve ever felt as good about contrast in one of my sketches as I do about this one.

As usual in a portrait, there’s something not quite right about the mouth, or rather the chin.  But what a sense of accomplishment.  And next time, I will draw those few pencil lines just to get my bearings before I bring out the ink.


Dogface Butterfly… is that an oxymoron?

"Dogface Butterfly", colored pencil sketch by Kerry McFall

I learned when we visited the Santa Ana Botanical Garden (Claremont, CA) last month that the state insect of California is the Dogface Butterfly, not perhaps the loveliest of names.  I literally had to sit down and draw out a dog’s face on my sketchbook before I could see where they got the name… if you stretch your imagination, you can almost see a black-eared yellow dog laughing in the upper wings.  At the garden’s butterfly house they had specimens of the Dogface under glass, but no live ones, which was disappointing, but my recent Google search offers the excuse that they are very fast flyers.  That search also showed that a yellow-only version of the Dogface also inhabits Peru, which is where my daughter Corey has just started her new job.  It felt kind of like karma that during her graduation visit I had stumbled upon a butterfly that she might actually see in her new town – that is, if she goes to the Inkaterra hotel to see their butterfly garden.  Having a butterfly garden at a hotel sounds like such fun!  I wonder if it lives up to its potential?