Z fails to draw part 12. Z draws a cat

I have a favourite photo of Eloise cat from September 2015. What I particularly love are her forward-pointing ears and her little snub nose. So I thought I’d draw that.

I am not going to pretend it was a success. Frankly, both Tim and I agree that the muzzle is more dog- than catlike (I really appreciated his constructive criticism, it was a help and confirmed what i thought, but would be fine if it was something I hadn’t realised, too). I didn’t get the brow bone right, nor the curve of the nose. The legs are actually the wrong way round, it looks as if the left leg is at the front but behind the right one. However, I know what I did wrong and I’m going to try again until I get it right.

What was good about the experience – I observed carefully and concentrated well and I took some trouble over the shading. The eye isn’t right but I managed a bit of highlight and I got that pale streak at her neck and on her leg. The ear isn’t quite right, but it isn’t bad. Next time, I will just do the head and see if I can do better.

I had tried to do a drawing of her, using the picture plane, asleep on my lap. But I had to balance the plane on my stomach and it moved every time I breathed. I can use it to draw my hand and I could put it against a window to draw a scene but how to hold it while drawing freehand puzzles me. I just can’t keep it still enough and, if it moves the least bit, the whole focus changes. I don’t have anything to rest it on and Betty doesn’t explain. So I’m just going to get better, for now, at what I can do and return to the book when I feel able to. I get the principle of negative spaces and I can look for them – but a drawing of a chair is both difficult and boring and carrying on with that is, for now, setting myself up for failure.

8 comments on “Z fails to draw part 12. Z draws a cat

    1. Z Post author

      Yes, I agree. I’d noticed that from the start but it was only when I uploaded the photos that I realised the legs were completely wrong. Literally back to the drawing board! – but it’s engaged me again. I did look for negative spaces around the legs, at any rate. I do think I need to consolidate and practice before I try to make more progress, this is all quite difficult and new for me. It’s like trying to make sense of a musical score for someone who can’t read music. You can see it going up and down, but there’s so much to take in!

    1. Z Post author

      First thing I thought when I did it was that it looked like a dog and, unprompted, Tim said the same thing. Yes, it’s a very poor sketch and it doesn’t matter, at least I’m having a go. I’m not massively enthusiastic, admittedly, but hoping for a breakthrough.

  1. Allotmentqueen

    If you look at the outline between her eyebrow and her nose in the photo I feel it looks more like a gorilla (bear with me) whereas the angle you have the nose in your drawing is right but the downward bit before the angle is too short and straight, instead of longer and slightly more concave.

    And yes, the right leg needs to be shorter, and if you’d drawn the line of the windowsill first that would have helped you. Also if you look at the photo you can just see the outline of the left leg carrying on upwards against the fur of the body, and you can see the underside of the body in front of the right leg.

    And fur is notoriously difficult to draw.

    Right, end of drawing lesson critique for today.

    I did ‘A’ Level Art (and somehow got a B, which was quite good in those days, before they invented A* as the only grade worth getting), but I find it quite difficult actually drawing from life. I’m really good at copying someone else’s drawing (I once did an 8-foot Sarah Bernhardt poster!) but I find it’s difficult to translate a 3-D object into a 2-D drawing. What I did find useful, though, was back in the late ’70s when I used to go to a life drawing class on a Friday evening.

    Having spent all week teaching (in a primary school so small that my class of 7-9 years olds – only four classes in the whole school – had such a wide ability range that one could barely read words of four letters, and another had advanced plans for being a television producer in a few years’ time) I found that spending three hours on a Friday night concentrating solely on things like negative spaces was the most refreshing thing I did all week. If you draw someone lying down with their feet towards you, so that the feet are effectively way bigger than their head, and legs appear to come out at funny angles – if you draw what you can actually see, however weird it feels, then you do end up with something that looks quite realistic.

    So go ahead, draw your chair – but lay it on the table at an angle, and draw the negative spaces you can actually see.

    (I did actually buy the book recently, as the concept intrigued me and I thought if you can do it, so can I, but I find I’m suffering from lockdown apathy)

    Oh, and congrats on the anniversary. I did actually consider restarting blogging last year, and nearly did so but it never quite happened. Ah, well….

    1. Z Post author

      Thinking about it, I realised that I failed to draw what I saw because, as you say, it’s so gorilla-ish that I didn’t really believe it.

  2. Blue Witch

    What you could do with that picture is several photocopies (with the settings on their lightest), and then work onto them to make the changes you’ve realised, or people here have suggested. Keep the original untouched though.

    And/Or turn your photo upside down and do the same exercise again (as you did before), then you’d draw what you saw, rather than what you think you see.

    I think it’s better than you think though, and it wouldn’t take much face-to-face teaching for you to rapidly make a lot of progress.

    1. Z Post author

      I’ve had exactly that idea, BW, to draw it upside-down. Although the original was deeply unsatisfying, the point is progress and not to be ashamed of the steps on the way. So yes, all drawings are being kept.


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