The above image was designed using a photo that my sister sent me of her cat, “BOO”, thinking he had hidden himself in the grasses around her home. The image was somewhat fuzzy and I felt I would not do him justice in watercolor. My creative drawing class will soon be working on a project where they will be asked to draw or paint with paper so I decided to give this image of Boo a go with that in mind. I decided to use papers that I created from National Geographics treated with the cleaning agent Citrasolv. For a tutorial on how to create these papers click here. I usually spend some time preparing and drying these papers, in advance, so that I have them stored for when I need them.
The above is the first step in my process of creating Boo. I drew him on a piece of 140 lb coldpress watercolor paper. I only include those lines that I feel are necessary to guide the bolder shapes as they are soon buried by the papers. I began with his eyes. I found a yellow page that had turqouise bubbles to use for his eyes. In order to get the shape correct, I first traced the shape of his eyes using tracing paper, cut them out and used those cut outs as a pattern over the colored paper to cut out the shapes I needed. This is how I work.
1. Trace the shape.
2. Cut out the shape on tracing paper.
3. Lay tracing paper over the colored paper I wish to use and cut that shape out again.
4. Glue it to the surface where needed.
I am careful not to cut out HUGE shapes as they tend to wrinkle more. I use acrylic matte medium as my adhesive. Sometimes I mix small amounts of water with it if it begins to thicken while I am working.
I then began cutting and glueing shapes for the background. I chose papers of the same value range as I was going to use for the cat because I wanted him to appear somewhat hidden. I chose warm colors for the background of the earth and cool colors for the cat so that there would be some differentiation and so the viewer could find the image. I tried very hard to create an interesting composition of colors so that the background looked like a painting.
I then begin to draw and paint the cat’s shapes with paper. Note that I cut crescent shapes of paper for his belly and several pie shapes for his haunches. This helped to give him a three-dimensional quality through the use of cross contours. Had I cut out one large piece of paper for the entire body of the cat, he would look fat and the paper would have wrinkled. I did not want him to appear as a silhouette.
The next step was the most difficult. This was because there were many variations of values and shapes needed to describe the face and paws. The paper shapes were tiny and difficult to glue down without them sliding around. I used a q-tip on some of them to rub them down flat, rather than my paintbrush. (I save aside several brushes to be used only for glueing with matte medium as they become stiff and damaged over time). There are 53 pieces of paper in the cat image, alone. By this time, I am actually feeling as though I am drawing and painting with the paper, for sure.
The final step was the most fun. I divorced myself from the photo reference and designed my own grasses and plant shapes to furthur camouflaging Boo. I worked them in and out and through his form to furthur increase depth. I was very careful to save parts of him that I wanted to show thru. The final step was to add whiskers and highlights to the eyes with white acrylic paint.
I have used these papers once previously to create a selfportrait, found here.
I thank Carol King for having originally introduced this process to me here.
More Citrasolv art may be viewed on the artist gallery page of the Citrasolv website here.