Dave is my mandolin teacher. He is the greatest. The place where he teaches recently expanded and we now have a lovely new practice room with big, bare walls. I said, "You need a painting." He said, "Yeah! Do me a painting about music and cats!" (He loves both.) I said, "Okay, I can do that."
I had an idea of what I wanted to do immediately. This is an unusual way for me to start a painting, with a preconceived concept. As it turned out, my idea didn't work and I ended up painting over it. That'll teach me to have a preconceived concept. No worries, though. It just made the surface more interesting.
The original idea was to start the painting with a technique that I learned in a Nancy Barch workshop. A collage is applied as the first layer, a cut out of a shape is positioned over the collage and the area around the shape is painted so that when you remove the stencil the image remains.
I had a 24" X 30" wood panel onto which I had been cleaning off extra paint from my pallet, being one who hates to waste paint. I drew a shape of a cat to fit those dimensions and cut it out of brown craft paper.
The collage part was made up of pieces of sheet music and pictures of some of Dave's favorite musicians ~ BB King, Dylan, Hendrix, Elton John.
The cat shape cut out is placed over the collage.
I used black gesso to paint around the edges of the cut out, using a roller so that some of the colors that were already on the panel would show through.
I peeled off the cut out to reveal the collage.
Details were added ~ eyes and nose, a moon, a bird, whiskers. But it just wasn't working. Maybe if I had made the pictures of the musicians more varied in size? I dunno. I just didn't like it. And besides, the matte medium I used to apply some of the pictures picked up the pigment and smeared it, so that everything looked dirty. I should have sprayed the pics with polyurethane. I tried to clean it up with a white oil pastel and as I was doing that I got the idea the stripes of the cat should be staffs of music.
And I wanted to change the colors. So, blue background, orange cat. At first I had the stripes going the wrong way until I looked at my cat Lily's stripes and saw how they curved around her hip. (She just happened to pose perfectly for me at just the right time.) The stripes are made from the sheet music for the song "Little Maggie", which is what I named the painting, even though the cat ended up looking like Dave's orange cat, Bimmy. The landscape in the background finishes the piece. Dave liked it and it now hangs in his music room.
As a bonus, with the left over black gesso, I made a monoprint on deli paper by pressing it onto the wet gesso and scratching into it with my finger nails - another Nancy Barch tip. I'll put this in my file of collage material.