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Portrait of a cat

Build your watercolour confidence as you paint a portrait of a cat in sunlight, with David Webb
Tiger Portrait (sepia painting), watercolour on 425gsm Bockingford NOT watercolour paper, 10x14in. (25x35cm

T he subject of animals encompasses so many varieties, shapes and sizes that it can be difficult to know where to start. For this short article, I will limit the topic to furry varieties! Scales and feathers can wait for another time.

Drawing is important in any subject but is the key to success when trying to depict animals with any degree of accuracy.

From life and photos Sketching animals and birds from life is always time worth spent, if you want to paint them convincingly. Take a pad and pencil to your local park or zoo, and spend a couple of hours just observing and drawing. You’ll probably end up with lots of half-finished sketches, but the process allows you to familiarise yourself with the animal. Every time you draw even a little piece, you are learning something about your subject.

If you have your own cat or dog, you have the perfect opportunity to sketch from life. I, like many artists, also use photographs as a source of reference, but these should be used as an addition to life drawing, as the camera lens can distort limbs by making them appear longer or shorter than they really are. I advise using just your own photos, too, as you will know more about the subject as you were there. It also helps avoid any copyright issues if you intend to sell a painting or enter a competi

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the May issue of Leisure Painter. This month we have practical advice, step-by-step demonstrations and instructional features on drawing and painting with watercolour, acrylics, ink, oils and coloured pencil. Try 12 confidence-boosting exercises to help you draw and paint figures, be inspired by the travel posters of the 1930s to produce contemporary-looking poster-like paintings, and learn to paint a plethora of subjects, including landscapes, animals, birds, flowers, seascapes and more. Enjoy your month of painting with Leisure Painter.