FIRST UPDATE: Thoughts and ideas: What I have planned for the Painting Cats Book

Well, I have to start putting some content on this blog, now don’t I?


I’ve already got a little self-published book on Amazon with my cat paintings. (It was mostly a collection of my paintings with a few pages at the end with tips and advice for artists.) I sent a copy to my aunt (the quintessential “cat lady”) and she seemed so pleased with it, that I decided to write a bigger book on painting cats and include a painting of her kitty, Daisy. It’s all about Daisy, you see.

I’ve been mulling over what exactly will be in this book, so here are a few things that I’ve penciled in:


Size and price

Right now I’m thinking it’ll be 8-1/2 x 11 inches, about 100 pages, and sell for $19.99 USD. Amazon’s “Createspace” will be the printer/publisher (I’m self-publishing this) but I’ll also have the book printed at another printer (IngramSpark) so it can be available to non-Amazon retailers. Both of these self-publishing printing companies take a hefty portion of that $19.99, especially when it’s a full-color book (as this will be). I wish I could price it lower, but it’s probably not going to happen (with the exception of short-lived promos and sales).

I am ambivalent about making an eBook (Kindle, Nook, Kobo) version. Right now art instruction books don’t sell that well in eBook form. Print copies sell much better, so I might just stick with print only.

What will be in it?

What I’m aiming for right now is at least several “projects” where I’ll show you what to do, step-by-step. It’s not a new formula. I started painting in oils when I was a teenager and my painting teacher Shirlee had a collection of Walter Foster books (“How to Paint Seascapes” and “How to Draw Cats” and so forth). Each book showed step-by-step pictures of the painting and color mixtures. Oh boy, I loved those books!

I’m not going to copy the Walter Foster formula precisely but will do at least a few projects where I “hold your hand” through the process from start to finish. I’ll be using royalty-free public domain photos of cats (from places like MorgueFile, etc) so you can have access to the original source picture I used as a reference.

Some subjects to be covered:

The book won’t be just about following along, step-by-step. I will be teaching basic principles and lessons along the way. Otherwise, what is the point of the book? It is my (lofty) goal to teach the fundamentals about painting anything—not just cats. Also contained in the book will be advice and tips on painting in oils. (That doesn’t mean that the book won’t be applicable to those who use acrylics, though.)

The book will cover topics like color mixing, color temperature, and drawing. (By “drawing” I don’t only mean drawing in pencil or charcoal, but being able to get the proportions and outlines of the image accurately without being overly dependent on drawing aids like grids and projectors.)

On the subject of grids, I will introduce a grid in some of the lessons. (Grids are not bad—Betty Edwards, in her landmark book about drawing, shows how to use them.) Grids can be very useful, but shouldn’t be used as a crutch for artists who never have developed the skill to draw freehand. Grids can be a helpful aid to increase freehand drawing skill, and that’s what my aim will be in this book!

I’ll also be giving tips on brush strokes and which brushes I use (though you don’t have to use the ones I use). Capturing the fur of cats is a challenging task and the right brush can really help!

“Close-Up Tabby,” 4×4″ oil on canvas board

You can see the distinct brush strokes on this little 4×4″ painting. The handling of brush strokes can really make a difference!

More thoughts to come later.

Please leave any comments and questions. After all, I created the blog so I could get some feedback and suggestions while I was working on the book!

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