I was commissioned to paint Bert and Twiglet as a Christmas present.  Pieced together from several photos the idea was to have the two cats fireside.  From a range of photos I created this layout and began the long journey from background to foreground.

I hope you enjoy their progress and some of my travels in Spain where I was while I painted them.

Bert and Twiglet finishedThe finished painting 18″x14″ soft pastel on velour.

catphotosThese were the main photos I worked from for the cats.  The fireplace was a seperate photo and I then used Photoshop to piece together a composition before starting to draw it out.  My main problem was getting the lighting to come from the same side on both cats.  Twiglet, (middle and right photos) needed to have the same direction of light as Bert, so I decided to paint the lighting from the one on the right.  This led me into some bother which you’ll see later on.

bert-twiglet1At this stage I’ve got the two of them sketched out and am beginning to block in the rich colours in the background.  I want it to be quite dark in around the stove so that the cats really stand out against it.

bert-twiglet2While there is a fire lit, there are also lights on in the room so I can’t quite go for full on fireside lighting.  I hope I can make the stove dark enough though to make the fire appear to glow.  I’ve also started to lay in some of the darks on the rug in the foreground.

bert-twiglet3Some of those warm reds and pinks added to the rug.  At this stage it’s taken me about three days, not counting the time to come up with the composition.  So much time goes into actually drawing it out and getting it ready for the easel.

pic1One of the first places we visit when we crossed into Spain is Figueras where Salvador Dali, one of my favourite artists was born.  This is the museum where he created every room.  The whole museum was like being in a Dali painting.

pic2Sharing just a couple of the images from my visit as I took so many photos.  I will have to do a seperate post on the Dali museum I think!  This room was amazing, each piece of furniture serving a purpose which became clear when viewed from a little balcony area where the whole picture came into view.

pic3This painting of Gala, his wife, was so stunning.  He was a masterful painter!

pic5The big painting on the wall is one of my favourites and I used to have a print of this on my living room wall.  From a distance it looks like Ab Lincoln, and then you get closer and see what it’s really made up of.  It was great to see how big it is and how amzing it is up close.

pic4Of course Dali not only painted, but designed jewellery, sculpted and many other artforms.  I loved seeing this piece along with his preparitory drawing of it.

pic6Back in the motorhome to get some work done. But I did treat myself to a few Dali postcards at the museum.  Postcard size is perfect for that Ab Lincoln piece when you live in a motorhome!

bert-twiglet4Beginning work on Bert first.  Because he is right in front of the fire, I want to use some oranges and zingy pinks around his ears and inside them to hint at the heat behind him.

bert-twiglet5Working my way down Bert’s face, trying to make sure that those soft edges have a good contrast to the background.

bert-twiglet6Making use of some of Unison’s lovely warm greys and lilacs for the undercoat.

bert-twiglet7bert-twiglet8This part of Bert’s body will have to be in shade as Twiglet is sitting next to him.  I try to save all my whitest whites for those lit areas.

bert-twiglet9That’s Bert nearly done, now onto Twiglet.

pic6aAfter visiting the Dali museum, we travelled over the mountain range to Cadaques on the coast.  This is a journey Dali would have made, going to this town he loved to holiday in and paint.  Picasso was also a regular visitor, and later Dali settled on this coast with Gala.

pic6bThis is Cadaques on a very still evening.

pic7pic8A statue of the man himself in Cadaques.

bert-twiglet10Back to work on Twiglet now and again starting from the top.

bert-twiglet11Here you can see the progress of one eye as I block in the main green colour.

bert-twiglet12Twiglet’s face worked over, but something isn’t quite right at this stage.  I continue down her body, but that face will be returned to!

bert-twiglet13bert-twiglet14Starting to get a feel for how they will sit together.  It’s not always easy piecing together photos to work from as there are so many things to consider to make it look real.

bert-twiglet15That’s both bodies finished and I’m quite happy with how they look on the rug.  Now for the tweaks that will make Twiglet look like herself!

pic10Just as I’m nearing the end of this piece, we reach Barcelona.  Our first trip into the city is in the evening and it looks so beautiful all lit up.  Such a stylish looking city.

pic11pic12We also manage to go look at Gaudi’s crypt which is close to where we are parked.

pic13Everywhere you look around here the architecture is really interesting.

pic14I also thought I’d share a photo of us parked up on the outskirts of Barcelona.  This spot is a popular stopping place for many travellers and we met so many people during our days here.  At one point we made a nice collection of Classic Hymers.  Our Freda is the far right.

twigletcompare1Over the next three or four days I spend time re-working Twiglet’s face.  Most times I get a likeness first go, but the odd time something just doesn’t quite fit.  I think my main problem here was working from two photos of Twiglet which confused the shadows on her face.  I also found it difficult to see the outline of her face in the photo reference.  But after many hours and much walking away and coming back to it, I started to see the changes I was making were working.  I kept showing Twiglet’s human the progress and she was great at steering me in the right direction.  I got there in the end though!

twiglet-closeupThis is a close up of Twiglet’s finished face.  I was pretty relieved to have found her in there!  I don’t know where she was hiding.  But that is the beauty of pastel, it can be worked and moved around for quite a while until you figure things out.

pic15I’ll leave you with one last image from Barcelona.  The day I finished Twiglet we went back into the city to buy ourselves some Christmas treats.  It’s always good to treat yourself after some hard work!

I hope you enjoyed my progress on this one.  Call back soon for more fresh work and arty travels.