Category Archives: Watercolor

Words Matter

Standard

Thanks to Google translate, I now know how to spell “meow” in both Arabic and Persian, the two languages most spoken in the seven countries included in the current U.S. ban on refugees. And, while I know that words matter, (and I like to use words, sometimes too many words, ask my husband,) I’m just going to let my picture do the talking for me this time.Protest cat. #pussygrabsback #nomuslimban

As an aside, I was so interested in this idea of language, that I looked up a few statistics and found out that there are more world-wide native speakers of Spanish than of English, for example. English is the 4th most spoken language, followed by Arabic. (source)

 

 

Advertisements

All the Sparkly Things Remember

Standard

The ornaments on my tree all have an origin story. Some belonged to my mother. Others were made by my husband, or by me. Many more were gifts from friends or former students. Each decoration has meaning, and evokes the giver, the event at which it was acquired, or the location of purchase or creation. The Christmas tree, then, becomes a receptacle of memory, representing the strata of my life, and that of my family.

Watercolor painting of a cat ornament. Carol Parker Mittal

Do not eat. Not a real cookie.

As a cat person, I receive a lot of cat Christmas tree ornaments as gifts. This one, though, I purchased myself while celebrating a birthday dinner on a riverboat in Hannibal, Missouri. (Yes, the Hannibal that is famous as being the hometown of Mark Twain.) I liked this cat  for the whimsical arch of its back, and that it looks like a frosted gingerbread cookie. I’ve been staring at it ever since our tree went up a couple of weeks ago. This morning, I was compelled to document it.

I just want to say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to everyone, if that’s your thing, and, at the very least, Happy Solstice! This is as dark as it gets in the Northern Hemisphere. Be warm, safe, and thoughtful this holiday.

 

Dog Friends

Standard

After my huge build up to summer sketching a few weeks ago, I have to admit that I have not been spending much time with my sketchbook!  I was, however, inspired by a recent visit with friends where I got to pet the bellies of these two. Meet Boudreaux the Dog and Jodie Foster. Both are rescue dogs of unknown origins. In fact, both of them have such quirky personalities, I wish they could tell the stories of how they came to live with their current people.

Watercolor painting of two cute dogs.

Boudreaux tends to walk a little sideways and has a large vocabulary, while Jodie silently contemplates the world, often from a distance.

If you’re wondering how dogs ended up on my cat blog, I’ll just say that I love all of the animals, I just happen to live with cats. But, I would, if it were even vaguely practical, have my own zoo.

You can follow Boudreaux the Dog on Instagram. He’s just that adorable! Also, any resemblance of Jodie Foster, a dog afraid of doorways, to Jodie Foster, the actress is purely coincidental.

Recording Summer

Standard

I was an art teacher for 20 years, so I always considered summer as the time when I could “catch up” on my art making. I couldn’t wait for my schedule to be free so I could start drawing again. Now that I’m working full time as an artist, I draw with more frequency, but I’m still habituated to the arty pull of summer.

I like to record my travels as I am inspired by my surroundings. Sometimes these drawings are quick sketches, with impressions that are grabbed quickly to preserve a memory, color or thought.

Colosseum drawing, Ancona, and gelato

The Colosseum, the coastline of Ancona, and an empty gelato cup from a trip to Italy in 2011 demonstrate on-the-fly sketches I might collect.

Other times, I rework or create new drawings or paintings back in the studio after collecting sketches and photos. These entries are more complete impressions of my surroundings where I incorporate objects, scenes, and details to capture what has seeped in during my visit. Like with the quick sketches, colors, objects, and landmarks dominate the work resulting in a portrait of the place I visited.

St. Francis, Ganesh, and a wildfire

Top: My homage to Georgia O’Keefe after visiting her home and studio in Taos, New Mexico. Bottom: St. Francis and Ganesh were both images I encountered in the mountains of Santa Fe. I was there in 2013 while a large wildfire raged on the mountain.

I rarely leave the house without a means to record the world around me. I wrote a post about what to include in your portable studio, which you can see here.  I find that having a sketchbook is a great alternative to staring at your screen in the airport or on long car rides. The drawings don’t have to be perfect, just a sincere effort at recording your impressions. You don’t have to travel far to find something to put in your sketchbook, either.

Watercolor landscape sketch

The perfect spot to draw. This small beach is just down the street from my house.

After all, as an artist, it is your duty to find the beauty in the seemingly mundane things around you, to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I’ve drawn things ranging from other travelers to my kitchen serving bowls. I even spent one summer drawing the salt shakers in restaurants in which I was dining. You’d be surprised at the variety!

I hope you are inspired in your own way to record a memory this summer. Happy art, everybody!

This Is Not About Cats

Image

Today my route to work was dotted with bright yellow springiness. The daffodils have arrived! So, when I got home, I was inspired to make a drawing in honor of the official harbinger of spring here in the North.

Pen and ink drawing of daffodils.

I don’t usually draw flora, but I was happy to see these in my neighborhood.

Spring Cats by EriN Kotosaka

Postcard from Japan!

As I was inking in the values, I noticed the postcard I had received from the awesome Marc-Andre of Katzenworld lying on the table. And….I noticed….DAFFODILS! The artist is EriN Kotosaka. I was unfamiliar with her work until I got Marc’s card. I love her drawings of cats, they’re so whimsical and mischievous. Alas, I digress because I was not going to write about cats.

I hope it’s spring where you are, and that you find beauty in the ordinary, and wonder in the small connections that make life interesting.

 

Maybe It Was the Tea

Standard

Tick….tick….tick….tick….I am awake. It is the middle of the night and my brain has gone into monkey mode. No position is comfortable. No amount of yoga breathing will distract my busy mind. No amount of sheep counting sends me into dreaming.

I have a cat firmly asleep on my legs. When I try to move, said cat goes into noodle mode and protests with a tail twitch. The last time I looked at the clock it was 3:42 a.m.

Watercolor close up of a worried cat

If only my cats were concerned about the quality of my sleep.

Eventually I drift off. In what feels like only minutes, I am jarred awake by my husband’s alarm, a song by Queen about bicycles. I groan. For a minute, the bed cat remains a full impact noodle. Another cat thinks it’s time for breakfast. Cat number three starts clawing on the cat tree. Full noodle cat is now walking on my chest. My husband is now snoring and oblivious.

I give up any hope of more shut eye and lurch downstairs to rectify the urgent dish bottoms issues of the cats. Maybe tonight will be better.

Philosophical Fragments

Standard

Hardly anyone I know ever saw this painting. I created, Zeno, for donation to a local art center for a fundraising event, the kind where local artists hand over a piece, then, during an invited members-only reception, the artworks sell to the center’s patrons.

Zeno tiger measuring tape crow gourd

Zeno, a Greek philosopher and mathematician, believed that the world of the senses was merely an illusion.  Watercolor painting by Carol Parker Mittal

I was excited to have a piece in this show. Being new to the area, I saw it as an opportunity to have a lot of people see my work. On the night of the occasion, my then-boyfriend and I arrived at the reception early but I couldn’t find the painting anywhere! I quickly discovered that Zeno was one of the first pieces that sold that night. I never saw it hanging in the gallery, though I did locate the orphaned label, and the empty space on the wall. I never even signed the front of the work.

We strolled through the galleries, looking at all of the art. Despite the swanky surroundings and champagne, some of my enthusiasm for the event had waned. Plus, the food options for vegetarians were next to nothing. We left the party early. While I was excited that my piece sold, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see it in the gallery– nor did anyone else– because it disappeared so quickly.

That art center stopped hosting fundraising events in the same way the year after, so unknown artists like me were no longer invited to participate. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have sold my work for a good cause, but I still wish I’d kept this painting and donated a different piece.

As it turns out, this night lives as one of my favorite date nights ever. I recall many details, including what I wore (I went shopping for an entirely new outfit,) who we ran into (people from work who did not know we were dating,) the souvenir glasses stamped with blue stars, (still have one of them,) and the lovely desserts we found after we left the reception (at a place to which we returned frequently.) As luck would have it, the then-boyfriend became my husband. Things don’t always turn out as planned, sometimes they turn out better.

 

Getting All Christmas-y

Standard

When I work on illustrations of cats, I use a reference because I’ve never been an artist who remembers the details of an object from my imagination. A lot of times, I can work out the surroundings, or take a quick look at something, say, a table, and draw it. But, for the main subject, kitty!, I usually work from a photo. I like photos not so much because I want to capture every whisker, but more because there’s usually the placement or angle of a pose that I want to capture.

Watercolor painting of a cat with presents with the comparison photo of the same cat used as reference for the painting.

My sweet, long-suffering Emily was just waiting for me to finish working  in the studio one night when I took this shot. Later, I used it as inspiration for the painting on the right.

For my holiday series, I  first come up with the idea for the composition. Then, I search through my hundreds (literally) of cat photos for the poses that I think will best fit my idea. On the rare occasion I don’t find what I am looking for, I might go in search of a willing model, but it’s hard to get a cat to pose! That’s why I take pictures frequently to use for reference later. That way, I almost always have the exact look I want.

Side by side comparison of a drawing of a cat before the watercolor and pen work is added.

On the left is an example of the drawing I made for the finished painting on the right.

In the beginning, I block out the composition in pencil, finally adding the details with watercolor, and sometimes adding in pen for contrast and definition.

I have quite a collection of Christmas Cats at this point. So, I thought I would have some of them printed on greeting cards. I use a local printer who works with me to accurately represent the original color when translated to the digital reproduction. I’m so happy with how they turned out, that I decided to offer them for the first time in my Etsy shop and at the local holiday markets!

A collection of Christmas Cards featuring Cats from Carol Parker Mittal at Attack Cat Studio

My collection of Christmas Cats! You can find them at Etsy, or just send me a private message for special orders.

If you want your own, find them at Attack Cat Studio: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AttackCatStudio

 

 

Guess Who Just Got Their Teeth Cleaned

Standard

My vet recommended Vera for a cleaning because her gums had become inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. Cats can have similar dental issues to people that can impact overall health and well-being, so, we loaded a grumpy Miss Vera into the carrier and took her to the kitty dentist!

Smiling Cat

Look at my sparkly, clean teeth!

The procedure requires anesthetic so the teeth can be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. This also allows the vet to do any extractions or other procedures while the cat is safely asleep. The medical staff makes a complete record of the cat’s mouth, and, just like the familiar work-up from a human dentist, a digital x-ray record shows all of the teeth, and allows the vet to analyze any hidden complications. For example, Vera has a tooth that is showing evidence of resorption, but is not a problem at this time.

Cat dental x-rays

Here is a close up of Vera’s jaw. A pretty good check up!

Miss Vera came out of the anesthesia with no issues. She now has sparkly clean teeth, and her gums have returned to a healthy state. Another bonus is that Vera no longer offends her other cat friends with bad breath!

Special thanks to Dr. Jill Erickson at VCA Cherry Bend Animal Hospital!