Winnie Cat Portrait Session 5

After 5 sessions of work I’ve finished the portrait of our late cat Winnie. My wife loved the Winnie cat portrait when she saw it last night, and I hope to have a better picture of it soon.

Winnie Cat Portrait Session 5
Winnie Cat Portrait Session 5

I haven’t done a painting this large in a long time and with it’s size I have learned a few things. First, my iPhone is really terrible at taking good photographs of artwork. I have known this before but it wasn’t so utterly apparent with the smaller paintings as it is now. Literally there is not one photo of this painting that is not blurry, or of horrible color and value. Part of the problem is my small studio setup, it’s not the best setup for taking high quality photos.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 digital camera was suggested by and it seems to be a very good choice for taking high quality photos of my work, but the price point is still way above what I’m willing to pay at the moment. Currently if I purchased it new with a lens and a tripod it would cost me around $700… ouch! This is something that will have to wait for the future when I’m painting larger works hopefully destined for a gallery.

The second thing I have learned is that I paint not only dries too fast, but it also dries very unevenly. As seen in these photos there are huge areas of this painting that are so matt looking that the values are several steps off. I’m going to have to find a good medium that adds a gloss to the paint and keeps it from drying so fast.

The medium I’m going to try is as follows:

  • 10 parts Gamsol
  • 5 parts stand oil
  • 1 part refined linseed oil
  • 5 parts Venice turpentine
  • 2 parts oil of cloves

This medium recipe will slow the drying time, lower the viscosity, and increase the gloss. Although I may need more oil of cloves for the burnt umber and less for the white. I’m getting this information from as I prefer Mr Carder’s pragmatic approach to painting and after researching the properties of each ingredient I see that it does what I need.

Winnie Cat Portrait Session 5 , setup

5 thoughts on “Winnie Cat Portrait Session 5”

  1. First, sorry about your kitty’s passing. One of my two cats had to be put to sleep a couple months ago and it’s so sad. Your painting does her proud!

    I appreciate Carder’s instruction as well and did one of my favorite paintings using his approach after buying his DVD (before he created the free instruction on the DrawMixPaint site):

    At the time he had you prepare your paint by squeezing a whole tube of paint into a jar, mixing your own medium (I have the recipe somewhere, but it was different than you described in your post, few ingredients and only smelled of clove oil, and then mixing the medium into each jar of paint until it was creamy. It was quite nice to work with. I also varnish my paintings with Gamvar to equalize the matt/shiny areas when it’s dry but I know that doesn’t help with the change in value in areas while you’re working. Carole Marine has a medium mix that maintains a consistent shine: 2 parts linseed oil | 1 part stand oil | 1 part Gamsol (mineral spirits). I use that occasionally and have been using Gamblin solvent free medium lately but it dries quickly, not slowly.

  2. Thanks Jana, that still life looks great and the shadow box you setup is so simple an easy I think I’m going to do it, I already have the black foam core. If my current medium doesn’t work out I will definitely try the Carole Marine medium.

    • She says that she doesn’t varnish her paintings because the medium maintains the gloss. There are other good reasons for varnishing though and the newish readymade gamvar makes it easy.

  3. First of all, I got teary-eyed when I saw this painting. It’s such a beautiful gesture and we will cherish it always.
    Second, I completely agree that our settings aren’t conducive for seeing your art for what it truly is worth. It’s not ideal, but hopefully we will have that remedied within a couple of months.
    This has me thinking, though, which of our literally THOUSANDS of photos of the Kid would you use for his portrait?


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