6 Painting Lessons I Learned from Cats

siamese cat

Painting can be fun. It can also be a real challenge. There are days when my hand fails to translate onto canvas the vision in my mind's eye. Even the simple act of blending colors can sometimes prove vexing, and I end up wasting gobs of paint in the process.

Through this, I've learned some valuable tips by observing cat behavior. Cats are, after all, the coolest dudes on the planet, and have quietly handled their masters for centuries.

Here are 6 painting lessons I learned from cats:

1. Pounce

cats jumping

When I get a bright idea or see an interesting texture that might be the basis of a new painting,
I pounce on it. Or make a note for future use. In this way, I won't be wasting time staring at a blank canvas, although the act of staring – as you'll later see – has a rightful place in the creative process.

2. Scratch

cat scratching wooden siding

My paintings contain many layers, each one scratched with various sharp tools. Scratching reveals underlying colors, adds texture, and overall, enriches the surface. To scratch, I use a variety of objects whose primary intended purpose is for anything other than painting. These include wooden barbecue sticks, corn whisks, and a seamstress's tracing tool! 

3. Stare

cat staring

When I'm painting and the canvas is "fighting me", like it usually does, I like to stand back and stare at it from a distance. Often, the problem – such as a lack of contrast or not having a strong focal point – becomes immediately apparent. But if the solution isn't clear, I turn the painting upside down to get a different perspective. And stare some more.

4. Think Inside the Box

cat inside box
Inspiration can be coaxed not only from outside stimuli but also from quiet thoughts within. This is especially true for my abstract paintings, which are intuitive. Color selection and placement are applied quickly and at random. After several layers, a form begins to emerge, grow and evolve. And then, the painting is on its way. If this sounds easy, it's not, because there are always multiple forks on the road. This leads me to the next lesson.

5. Go for a Walk

cat and dog walking

It's time to clear the head and go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood or in the woods. Creative contemplation happens when the mind is relaxed. It becomes more receptive, allowing for new thoughts and ideas to flow. Aha! But when all else fails….

6. Nap

cat napping
While I'm not a napper, I'm a big fan of a solid night's sleep. Sometimes, you just gotta leave the painting alone and save fun for the next day.

Come Out and Play!

I'm painting up a storm in preparation for my next shows.
Art in the Park, Richmond, VA
May 5–6, 2018
Artsplosure, Raleigh, NC
May 19–20, 2018
Arts in the Middle, Urbanna, VA
June 2–3, 2018
Hope to see you there!
To see original art that's currently available, click here.