Practice Drawing – Cats, cats, and more cats!

I am slowly working my way through the book Craft-a-Doodle, playing with the tutorials for drawing fun little doodles. I got stalled on the exercises in the second chapter though, which was about drawing pugs. The tutorial is very straightforward. The problem is, I didn’t want to draw pugs. To me, pugs seemed to be the signature motif of the artist who wrote the tutorials for that chapter – Gemma Correl. Her pugs are adorable, but they’re also her pugs, and I’m not doing this drawing practice so that I can perfectly imitate anotehr artists.

I opted therefor, to draw cats instead. I know nothing about pugs, but I’ve lived with cats all my life. We have three prime specimens in the house right now, in fact! So, after reading through Gemma Correl’s pug-drawing tutorial, I set baout drawing cats.

The basic idea behind Correl’s pug drawings is that they’re very simple and very cute. Everything is composed of basic shapes, mainly circles and triangles. So I tried to stick to that idea when I drew my cats. However, things didn’t quite workout the way I wanted…

I drew my first cat in Paper on my iPad and immediately ran into problems. Paper doesn’t give me a lot of control over how the tools work. I can pick a tool and I can pick the color to draw or paint with, but I can’t make any adjustments beyond that.  And there’s a definite limit to how far I can zoom in. In some ways, that makes Paper the perfect app for doodling, but in others, I feel crippled by the app. I can’t draw as smoothly as I can in other, more sophisticated apps, nor do I have the tactile advantage of working with more traditional media, like markers and card stock. Anyway, I drew the first cat, and here’s how he turned out.


Okay, he’s not bad, but I wanted to draw him with a thicker line and I didn’t have the option to do that. The result was a scratchy little drawing that just disappeared on the page. Since the lines were so thin, I thought maybe coloring him would help him pop out more. I opted to give him Siamese coloring, and discovered that the watercolor brush in paper has some quirks when it comes to blending and layering colors. Frustrated, I decided to redraw my cat in another app.

Here’s cat number two, drawn in Tayasui Sketches. Again, I did a simple pen drawing with watercolor.


To me, this was even worse. The water color blended better, but I had such limited control over the size of the brush that colors were constantly bleeding into areas where I didn’t want them. Keep in mind, I wasn’t using the pro version, of Sketches, although I did pay to unlock all the features in the version I am using, so I’m not sure what the differences is between the two apps. I also don’t know if the pro version would allow me more control over the brush size. That’s something I’m going to ave to investigate. But the biggest problem I had with Sketches was that it worked sooooooooo slooooooowly on my iPad. There was a definite lag between when I drew a line and when it actually appeared. I don’t know what the problem was, but that’s something else I’ll have to look into.

Anyway, frustrated with both Paper and Sketches, I finally opened up my favorite drawing app, Sketchclub, and drew a cat in that. Sketchclub has a pen tool, excelelnt zooming, panning and rotating capabilities, layers, and shape drawing tools. It doesn’t have water color brushes, but it does have plenty of other tools that I think make up for that. And since at this point I was damned and determined to draw a cat the way I wanted to draw one, I ditched the whole idea of a simple doodle and pulled out all the stops to draw a Siamese cat. And here it is!


Again, not a doodle at all, and the complete opposite of the point I think Gemma Correll was trying to make, but this was the one cat drawing I was happy with, so there you go.

This is not the end of the cat saga, of course. I had not accomplished the goal of the tutorial, and I refused to be beaten by this, but I did set the tutorial aside for a while. I’ll show you the results of round two next week!

February Cats – Days 17-25, Cats vs Crafting!

I mentioned this was going to be a crazy month, due to Girl Scout cookies coming in, and I did not lie. Since my last post, we have celebrated Princess’ birthday, my birthday, and picked up 1200 boxes of cookies which then had to be sorted out into each individual girl’s order. The girls then have to take those cookies and sort them into individual customer orders. And then we have to start making deliveries. And did I mention that booth sales have started? Crazy, crazy month.

We also had two cases of a stomach bug in the household (me and Princess, the perfect gift for the birthday girls this month). And thanks to the cold damp weather, my arthritis is acting up. I don’t like the arthritis at all. It makes me feel old. But not nearly as old as getting birthday greetings from my pharmacist and my financial advisor. Nothing says, “You’re almost a senior citizen!!” like birthday wishes from responsible institutions.

But back to cats and crafting, because that’s what this post is really supposed to be about. Yes, during the past week I did manage to get some crafting done. I just didn’t get the chance to write about it. I made another cat bolster for Princess for her birthday. Hers is green with big black eyes. She’s calling him Clover. I also did more work on the Catbug pillow, though I don’t think I’m going to finish him this month. I will keep working on him though. Then I stole some time to work on these beauties… 

Acrylic resin pieces

Ooooooooh, pretty things!

 

Now, you might look at these and think, “Helen, this has nothing to do with cats!” And in a way, you’d be right. These pieces are not cat-themed at all. But I had to work to keep my cats out of them!

You see, a long time ago, in a glaxay far, far away, I used to have a craft room/office. It was a room all to myself where I could write, sew, paint, make jewelry, and otherwise create a mess, and best of all, I COULD SHUT THE DOOR AND KEEP THE CATS OUT. That craft room/office is now Princess’ bedroom. So these days, I do all my crafting and artwork either on the couch in our living room (and you guys have seen plenty of pictures of that), or in the front half of our kitchen where we have this lovely beat-up old cargo box table that is perfect for working on. Unfortunately, the cats have decided that said table is also perfect for napping on, and anything they find there gets knocked to the floor when they want to snooze.

The pieces above were made with a two-part acrylic resin, which takes at least 24 hours to dry and cure. There was no way I could leave these pieces out on the kitchen table and expect the cats to stay out of them. So while I did all the mixing and pouring in the kitchen, I had to let these pieces dry in the only room I could keep the cats out of – our tiny downstairs bathroom. And I had to put up a sign saying “Do NOT use this bathroom” to keep the rest of the family out as well, because these people do not know how to shut a door to save their lives. And since the door WAS closed, and it had something in it that was NOT for the cats, the cats immediately crowded around the door begging to be let in. Thankfully, the family paid attention to my sign and kept the cats out.

Of course, the cats were not happy about that, so they took revenge by sleeping on the fabric for my next cat-themed project and left that covered in cat fur. Because it’s all about them anyway, right? Riiiiiiiight.

I hope to spend some time today sewing on the afore-mentioned cat-themed project, and then post pictures of the results tomorrow. We’ll see how much cat fur that project collects between now and then.

February Cats – Busy Day, Sleepy Cats

I got up early this morning, spent 2 hours at karate class, did a bunch of crafting stuff with the kids, worked on a painting for the school auction, and then squeezed in a little time for the Catbug pillow. I didn’t get enough done to bother posting a picture of the work in progress. However, Princess managed to record a quick video of one of our real live cats taking a snooze. Turn up the volume (I promise, this is not a trick) and listen carefully…

  
Yes, that’s Mister Big, and he is snoring! Which is what I’m about to do right now. Good night!

February Cats – Day 05, 3 Spots Down, 3 to Go

 

Catbug's spots!

Technically, it’s really 3 and a HALF spots down.

 
So today, I was able to scale down the egg pattern to make a smaller spot, and now I’m working on scaling it up to make the really big spot in the middle of his shell. Hopefully, I’ll get the big spot done tomorrow or Sunday.

On a completely unrelated note, I spent this afternoon with Girl Scouts who volunteered to make bag lunches for a local homeless shelter. These girls put together about 200 lunches in under an hour! Way to go!

And now I’m tired, so I’m going to bed. Good night!

ACW Episode 286 – An Important Fact About Cats

Webcomic!

Click on the image to see it full-sized.

Sing it with me folks. “My cat has fleas!”¬†Or rather, my CATS have fleas. All three of them. Do you know how hard it is to wash three cats? There’s a lot of bleeding involved. A LOT of bleeding.

At least the kitties smell nice when the baths are done. Not that they’ll let me get close enough to snuggle after I’ve dunked them in water, scrubbed them with soap, and dunked them again. But that’s okay. I need the time to clean myself up anyway. Don’t want to bleed all over my freshly cleaned kitties.

February Cats – Day 02 & 03, Seeing Spots with Catbug!

 

Catbug's spots!

Oh Catbug! Why do you have so many spots?!

 
So, yesterday I went digging through my yarn stash (which right now really just looks like a huge mountain of yarn strewn all over the bedroom) and I dug out the Catbug pillow I had started last spring. I had managed to get the red part of the back done, as well as his light blue tummy. Then I started working on his purple spots and that’s pretty much where I stopped because I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THOSE BLOODY SPOTS!!!

I mean, seriously! Look at the spots on Catbug’s back! They are lopsided ovals! And lopsided ovals are actually not easy to make when you’ve spent a couple years learning how to crochet perfect ovals! Ovals with stitch increases at regular intervals! Ovals that grow equally in all directions while you work! I tried so hard, but I could not make the stupid bloody lopsided ovals!

Look at the big dark purple blobby shape on the left-hand side of the picture above. Do you see that? It looks more like an eggplant, or maybe even a mutated pear stricken with the bubonic plague. It does NOT look like an oval. But that’s the only shape I could come up with after several attempts! And do you see the pointy little purplish egg-shape next to it? That’s what I spent all yesterday and today struggling to make. It looks a little better, but still, NOT A LOPSIDED OVAL!!

Ugh. I’m tired. I don’t feel well today. And thus I am easily frustrated. I am sure (yes, I’m lying to myself right now) that with a little time, I will be able to figure out how to make Catbug’s spots and not tear out my hair in the process. I will continue to post my results as I work. But right now, I’m going to take a long hot soak in the tub and go to bed. I’m declaring tomorrow a sick day, since I don’t feel well and I know I’m going to be busy all this weekend with Girl Scouts and school stuff. I’ll see you later. Good night!

Cats Theme – Day 01, Let’s Start with a Plan

 

Kitty nap time!

Her Majesty Queen Marmalade is too busy napping to bother with a plan.

 
I started doing creative themes back in October, and none of them have had a plan yet beyond “make something related to a theme!” This month, I want to see what happens if I have a plan. I have a few projects in mind that I would like to make for the “Cats” theme, and they are…

  • A crochet Catbug pillow
  • Another cat bolster, this one for Princess’ birthday
  • A cat hat with built-in scarf and pockets
  • Crochet a Franken-kitty for Pixie
  • Maybe make a needle-felted Mitchiri Neko

That’s four projects for the next four weeks. The Catbug pillow is actually already started. I’ve finished two big parts, but need to get the rest done. So I’m thinking that tomorrow I will clean up my yarn stash and unfinished projects and pull that project out and get back to it!

Beyond that, I’m keeping expectations low. February is a busy month for Girl Scouts, with cookies being delivered this month.  So we’ll see how I do.

Creature Comforts – Day 29, Kitten Cuddles

 

Kitten Cuddles!

She is my constant couch companion.

 
I took another sick day today. I did feel better today, but deliberately kept my activity level low key. Even so, I had to get some volunteer work done today, both for Girl Scouts and the school. That kept me off the couch most of the day, but while I was on the couch, a certain fuzzy orange someone kept me company.

I’m not sure when Marmalade decided the couch and its occupying laps were her domain, but anytime anyone sits on the couch, she’s there, right in the lap. I can type on top of her, draw webcomics on top of her, and crochet entire blankets on top of her. She will not move. She is one with the lap and the couch, and she’s probably happiest that way.

ACW Episode 285 – A Belated Christmas

Webcomic!

Click on the image above to see it full-sized!

It took me soooooooooooo long to finish this, and for no other reason that I simply could not get my act together for the last month. And I’m still not able to get my act together, but I’ll keep plugging along anyway.

I should have another Creature Comforts post up tonight. It’s in the works right now!