Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Cat and the Barometer

10" x 8" watercolor on 140 lb. on Fabriano Artistico Hot press paper

I am endlessly fascinated by this apartment building.  It's cheap living.  It appears that college kids and single professionals live here, judging from the folks wandering in and out as I painted.  There's a dumpster right out there in the front.  Nothing exceptional about it.

But to me there is the strong geometry, the shape of the building against the sky, the outside stairs, the column of windows lined with brick and vertical design, the open hallways, the grand field of white, and the undersized door.  The dumpster also contributes to the strong diagonal, I think.

And at a certain time in the morning, oh, 7:30 a.m or so - the shadows.

I did take a few liberties.

I added a cat.

What is that cat so interested in?  The building?  Is she a feline achitect?!

Nah.  Do you know?

[Some of you may be thinking, How do you know the cat is a she?  The answer:  Why I invented her, of course!  She is what I say she is!]

And the leaves.  I saw some leaves on a sidewalk elsewhere, and thought that was just what the scene needed.

I changed the trees - didn't like the trees that were there.  Ain't art wonderful?

I tackled this building once before - in an ink and watercolor sketch.  It was in mid-2009, and you can see it here (there's a popular little story in that post, by the way).  That post was a few months after the drawing and I said that I thought I could draw it better even then.  Wil, of Carving Paper, commented at the time, "You should have drawn a new image of the same scene to see how you might have interpreted now versus then."

Well, Wil, I never forgot, and now I've done it.

Maybe this building should be my barometer - maybe I should paint it every 2 years or so until the day when, leaning unsteadily with my cane in one hand and paint brush in the other, my nurse is holding me steady in front of an easel.

I should paint until I am 100 I think.



  1. I agree with you about that building being a nifty building...! I don't care that people don't say nifty's a good word. You did a great job painting this..and I would think it would be a daunting challenge. It all impresses me, the geometry and how you handled the values. Perhaps what impresses me most is the "wee cat". The proportion and shape is exactly right...and cats really are tricky to paint (IMHO!) Great job all around..and as always I like the narrative that you wrote too. I think the cat is looking for you and wants to congratulate you for painting her so expertly.

  2. I love this!! I spotted the cat immediately, and the stairwell led my eye directly to the bird that cat is looking at. :) Trying to figure out if she can get to the bird from the stairs...

    I love reading your blog posts.
    Leslie in Alabama

  3. Of course, I had to read this when I saw "cat" in the title. I enjoyed this post and your thinking out loud. I wouldn't mind your painting hanging on my wall, so you know I love it. The first one wasn't bad either, and so totally different in your approach.

  4. Kitty could be watching the bird on the roof, but her head isn't inclined in that direction.. she is watching the hall way... waiting for a kitty buddy to come out to play, her person to call her in for breakfast? Did the artist wait to find out... I like this version of the building better than your first try... but they are both very well done...

  5. I like both versions Dan! If your heart calls to repaint, then by all means, do it. And you did it very well.
    Nice tree too. I like the kitty too!

  6. I like both of them too: the first one for the bolder linework and the second one for the colours abd very good values and shades and the cat too (I just love cats!)
    Please go on painting it over and over again until you are 100 or more!!

  7. Well I liked the first version but this is amazing.
    I love the light at the top of the stairs (and underneath). But the trees are fantastic - they are done so very well.
    I like this a lot!

  8. Wow! This. Is. A. Fabulous. Painting! I think the cat has his/her eye on the bird! Our cat Lucy gets like that...with her body rigid and her ears pked up high when she sees a bird. I think your cat is thinking how she might don a cape and scale the heights of the building to nab that bird! But really, what a beautifully done painting. The cat, the leaves, the bird...all seem like necessary elements, without which it would not be nearly so engaging. They balance the painting and provide a wonderful composition.

  9. I completely adore the shadows cast from the tree. It's inviting enough to pull up a chair under it and read a book. I think the cat is looking at something lurking under the dumpster.

  10. Your landscaping is outstanding; you may have missed a career there. But what caught my eye first was the cat. It brought the painting of a stark architecture to life. And the diagonal of the dumpster serves the composition well; it points to the doorway. Interesting painting Dan. Fascinating structure to keep your brain active when you're 100. I hope to comment on that post.

  11. Nice job! You got me when you mentioned "there's a cat in this one"! I DO think you should paint till you're 100 and beyond. And using this building as a barometer would be really cool. --different angles different light --it could become quite a series.

  12. Wonderful Dan. I love that you added the cat. The shadows are terrific too.

  13. I love the way that the cat, alive and sinuous, sets off the strong angles of the building. Perhaps she is waiting to see if it moves?

  14. When I saw the title, I thought this was going to be a drawing of a bar. Don't you think it would be a great name? Anyway, I love this building for all the reasons you listed, plus your lovely execution. A barometer, why not? After all you'll never sit in exactly the same spot, with the same thoughts or equipment, so there's no reason not to keep drawing it.

  15. Great painting! Love the cat.

  16. I think you should paint this every two years--put the address into your gps so you can find it. It's a beautiful work; you just get better and better.

  17. Good painting!! the cat is lovely :)

  18. I really like how you painted this one. I'm all for painting/sketching the same scene again & again, each time looking for a different way, vision or technique....the next one will always be the best!

  19. I do not know what I enjoyed more - the painting or your writing. None of the comments have mentioned the absolute hilarity of the visual you present at the end, quote...
    " maybe I should paint it every 2 years or so until the day when, leaning unsteadily with my cane in one hand and paint brush in the other, my nurse is holding me steady in front of an easel."
    The painting is lovely - yes, but what you wrote is hilarious and understandable to me as an artist and will stay with me forever!
    I have to thank L. W. Roth for sending me this way.

  20. Thank you all so much for your comments!! I am so glad you enjoyed speculating on what the cat is, er, speculating on. And that you enjoyed the painting and the writing. Your comments are so meaningful to me, and I truly appreciated it. Addressing a few of your thoughts:

    Celeste - I was actually thinking a bit of your cat drawings when I did mine. It means a lot that you appreciate it, as I know how nifty your cats drawings are! Yes, nifty.

    Leslie - You are right!!! At least that's what I was intending, when I painted it, the cat's attention appeared to divert downwards somewhat. It's like novelists when they say that their character takes on a life of their own - completely outside of the author's control.

    Clipped Wings - Thank you so much - it gives me much joy to hear you say you'd like to have it hanging on your wall. :)

    Captain - Thank you - I think you are right. The cat was looking up when I drew her - as I was intending for her to look at the bird, but she may have looked down a bit when I painted her no matter what I did to try to change that. See my comment to Leslie.

    Jennifer - I surely was intending for her to look at that bird. Neat that the rigid look is there, since frankly I don't know much about cats. Thanks for you comment about the balance and all of the elements. Neat.

    Mary - Glad you like the shadows, thanks. I think without the shadows I wouldn't have been near as interested in painting the scene.

    Linda - I look forward to your comment on my 100th birthday post.

    Sue - BARometer would be a neat name for a bar, for sure!

    Julie - Thanks so much for visiting my blog. This is just such a wonderful comment that I am glad I waited long enough without posting to receive it. I am grinning from year to year.