Monique's Tabby Cat Portrait

Monique is Lily Jones’ tabby cat. Monique is a black and white tabby with the golden eyes of her feline ancestors. She is perfectly happy to sit on Lily’s bed and dare anyone to move her. I love to paint the tabby coat patterns. These stripes and swirls are created by layers of fur. The first is fur made up from a lighter background color. These are called agouti hairs and are usually a unique color. The second layer of hair includes darker colors that create the unique tabby pattern on the agouti hair.

Tabbies have similar marks on their little faces. They have dark lines running from the eyes to the back of the head, and usually there are marks on the cat’s forehead. Sometimes these marks resemble the letter M. This is the tabby mask. Monique’s tabby markings are pretty similar to her breed, but then all cats are unique.

Monique displays a mackerel pattern of stripes. Mackerel stripes resemble a fishbone. Monique’s has stripped markings. She is almost show quality because her stripes are whole and evenly spaced.

To bring out Monique’s great personality, the first step is to get the fur in the right direction, but also to paint the whiskers accurate. Painting whiskers on a cat does not mean you just paint a few lines coming out of the face. You have to study where the whiskers grow. Some are in rows alongside the mouth, above the inner corner of the eye, on the cheek and maybe below the lower jaw. Every whisker on a cat grows out by itself. Whiskers do not start at the same point.

Monique’s whiskers are her pride and joy. I painted them in long distinct lines of varying thickness. The ideal brush for painting a cat’s whisker is a long thin brush or a rigger brush. I don’t just draw a line, but scrape a line into the wet paint on the canvas using the tail of the brush. This technique gives a more realistic weight to the cat’s whiskers. Monique’s whiskers are white, but not the white of her undercoat. Pay attention to the shades of white you use to keep your cat portrait authentic.

The eyes are windows into the soul and never more so than Monique’s. Keep the eyes detailed, and the whole picture sings. Expressions and feelings reflect in your cat’s eyes. I notice the shape and particularly of the pupil. A cat’s pupil size gives them a look of love and adoration or mischief and spark. Monique’s are gold with very dark irises. She has an expression of daring in this painting. She knows she is not supposed to be on the elegant blue spread, but dares you to move her. Monique’s eyes will follow you around the room. This can be somewhat disconcerting.

Lily Jones was extremely pleased with this cat portrait from a photo. She complimented me on capturing Monique perfectly. This picture hangs above the blue bed in Lily’s room.