Pt5. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

Finished: Three Cat Tails
Acrylic on Canvas panels.
Day five of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails.View Part one, Part twoPart 3 and Part 4 if you haven't seen them yet.

In the final episode of this series I get to paint the black and white layers that I thought I'd be painting on day 4 but delayed in exchange for adding more purple and green shadow.

The black and white layers take the artworks through to completion. Then I finish each panel off with a dark blue border around the edge (to cover up the paint marks on the sides).

Whilst I do continue to talk about what I'm doing as I paint this episode does contain a few quite moments of just me painting away because there isn't really a lot to say about the white and black layer. However I hope you'll stick with it to the end just the same.

The series of artworks are available to buy so if you're interested contact me to find out if I'm still looking for a buyer.

Occupy Wall Street - Movement for Change of... Something?

I've been kind of following the Occupy Wall Street 'movement' from my position of apathetic denial of what's actually happening in the real world - that you can see if you pull back the curtain or disconnect from the Matrix.

In particular I've watched vlogs of the Melbourne, Australia, Occupy Movement through the eyes and camera of You-tuber Sean Beadlam. Sean is quite a hard hitting comedian whose humor is topical, political and often based on the injustices faced by the oppressed. He also focuses on the media and how they'll beat up a story to get their 'angle' rather than provide balanced reporting of the whole story.

Although not one of his comedy routines this video below from Occupy Melbourne is a good example of Sean's work with several juxtaposes of the Occupy movement with media and Sean's use of technology.



Although Sean isn't the only source of my information, you would think that a guy like him would have more to say about the movement and why you should get involved. But instead he aligns himself with the movement perfectly by not really explaining anything about it at all beyond 'It's not just one reason we're here'.



One of the Occupiers even explains in one of Sean's videos (and I'm paraphrasing) "Why would you Occupy? The real question is... Why wouldn't you?" As if that explains everything clearly. I hate that kind of nothing statement. You can apply it to anything.

"Money, power, greed. The real question is not why would you want these things it's why wouldn't you?"

I get that the core point of the occupy movement is about corporations holding all the power at the expense of real, hard working every day people. Corporate fat cats getting richer whilst the rest of us supposedly struggle just to put food on the table... and I'm sure for a lot of people it is a struggle too.

However there's no way I feel I can join a movement where you just pick something to protest about and suddenly you're a part of it. Which is how it seems to me from my apathetic perch in denial.

An interesting development is a new web meme that lets you Occupy any web site, passively. Just enter a URL into occupytheurl.com and you'll be taken to a copy of that web site where images of protesters will gradually occupy the site. Click here to Occupy my blog (I'd recommend you finish reading before you try it). The meme will give you a link to the Rebuild the Dream web site - a great place to learn more about the original movement.

Whilst the meme site is an interesting way to support the movement online it also seems to capture the lack of focus. You can apply it to any site and then click the links to share your occupation of the site on Facebook or Twitter.

The Occupy movement's lack of focus is a real problem. To me it seems they're too busy setting up tent cities and building communities of like minded individuals who all want to change something. Ultimately what you get is a group that wants to change everything and no consensus on where to start.

Personally I don't want to change everything. That's why I wouldn't get out and protest - there question answered. Why wouldn't you protest? That's why!

Then again, I'm not the kind of person that goes out and protests period. I find it a very negative thing to do despite the fact that protesters probably feel it's a positive action of empowerment.

There are better ways to affect change than sitting in a street marveling at how people have come together and built a real sense of a grass roots movement by pitching tents and holding meetings.

I don't like publicizing Bikie Gangs but those people did what I think is a better way of bringing about change. Fight fire with fire. When South Australia's new Anti-bikie laws went too far they all got together, hired lawyers and challenged the SA Government in the courts and won.

That's the thing about living in a so called 'free' society. All those things the corporations are taking advantage of could also be used against them if you know the system.

Yes but we're all too poor to afford fancy lawyers, legal advice, flash cars... come on. This is the internet. The age of crowd sourcing just about anything. With a bit of focus you can do just about anything. Like the Egyptians did in affecting change in their government through social media.

It's just an idea. You can start a movement from your lounge room. If you really wanted to start something.

Instead of berating all those apathetic people living in denial and not getting out and joining the 'movement' why not actually do something that enables them to support the cause without affecting their day jobs... that they're struggling to keep due to the economic climate.

People power is there to be harnessed by anyone who really knows how to affect change... and it's not building tent cities and marveling at how awesome it is to be protesting.

It's about knowing what needs to be changed and having some kind of plan to actually change it that people can get behind and support.


Pt4. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cat Tails
Darker purple and green shading added.
Day four of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails. View Part onePart two and Part 3 if you haven't seen them yet.

Yesterday I said that I would begin on adding my black and white final layers today. However after looking at the paintings a few times over night I decided the cats could really use more shadow to give them just a little more three dimensional form.

I had a strong feeling that adding purple and green shadows was what the images really needed. Especially the two larger images needed the purple shading on the background behind the cats to connect them with it - since those two particular images actually make more sense if you get the feeling that you're looking at the cats, laying on a blue floor, from above.

At this point I pretty certain I'm ready for my final black and white detail layers - which I'll get onto on day 5.



Continue to part 5.

Pt3. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cat Tails
Darker shading and cream fur added.
Day three of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails. View Part one and Part two if you haven't seen them yet.

In this video I mix a dark brown colour to add some shadow and stripes to my cats. You'll see how the brown tones the orange down quite a bit to make the colouring of the cats a little more believable.

I also mix a light cream colour to fill in the transitions between the orange and white area of the cats fur. You'll see in a later episode more clearly what I mean once I add the white back in. Note how, when I add the cream, it initially goes on too thick and I have to wipe it back with a cloth and water it down to make it more translucent. The perils of mixing colours with white paint!

Finally I finish up by adding in a few small details like paw pads and noses.

It doesn't actually seem like I did that much today. Ordinarily I'd probably keep painting but I'm trying to pace this out so I don't cram too much into one video - since each part is really a little longer than I'd like as it is.




If you're enjoying the series I'd really appreciate some feed back on how you think I went and whether you'd find this kind of studio diary useful if I did it again with future paintings. I'd also love to hear any constructive criticism you may have of my presentation and how I explained things. Was it clear or did it leave you with questions?

Use the comment section to share your thoughts.

Continue to Part 4.

Pt2. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cat Tails
background and base colours.
Day two and part two of my video diary (embeded below) following the creation of my latest series of paintings, Three Cat Tails. View Part one if you haven't seen it yet.

After painting my initial base painting using the three primary colours, in this episode I demonstrate blocking in my backgrounds and the base colour for the three cats.

This episode is a little longer than the last but hopefully is still interesting to watch. All the painting you see is in real time but obviously edited down quite a lot to show the 'highlights' and I explain what I'm doing as I go.

I realize these videos aren't as exciting to watch as the more common 'speed painting' style videos but if your the kind of person that likes to watch over the shoulder of a real live artist at work then these might just be up your alley.



Continue to Part 3.

Pt1. Three Cat Tails Painting by TET

WIP: Three Cats Tails
Primary Colours under painting. 
Determined to start painting more frequently I decided this morning to start a new artwork. However the only canvases I had to hand were a pack of three square canvases of three different sizes that I received as a gift.

I generally don't paint on canvases smaller than 30 x 40 centimetres in size so rather than not use the two smaller canvases I decided to create a series that I could paint across the three panels at the same time.

As much as I enjoy painting I also need my art to sell. My cat paintings nearly always sell so it was a no brainer to do a series of cats. Cat themed paintings are what I would call my 'Bread and Butter' art. i.e. art that pays the bills.

There's no shame in that. It's not selling out. All professional artists have particular themes that sell well which they continue to return to for both the fun of painting and the financial return. In between those paintings they experiment with other themes. People who are familiar with my art always enjoy my cats the most.

As far as this series of cats go the theme is 'Tails' and cats lying in odd positions. The first and second paintings (see image above - the two largest paintings) are cats viewed from above, lying on a pillow or mat perhaps?

Anyhow, as I painted I filmed myself and spoke about my process for creating most of my art (video embeded below). I've done this a few times before but if your new to my art this is a great way to learn my technique. It's also the first time I've done a semi instructional video in HD.

The video runs for about twelve minutes and takes you from the original sketches up to my primary colours under painting that you can see in the photo above.



I'll be filming me creating these artworks until they're complete so watch for future episodes and blog posts  which I'll be posting as I make them.

Watch Part 2 here.

Casper, Gizzy and Oscar - Talking Cats and Dogs

I don't think I've ever chosen a pet dog or cat for myself. Of all the pets in my life, as far as I remember, they were always chosen by someone else. I wouldn't call myself a 'dog' or a 'cat' kind of person not because I don't like them but because I like them a little too much - if that makes sense?

They're not just 'pets', they're companions and friends. At least that is how I view my relationship with our cat Casper who recently passed away (and our dog, Oscar for that matter). I like to spend time with them, often at the expense of my own productivity.

Casper and Gizzy

Casper Two-Face
After rolling in the dust Casper
went from all black to two tone!
I first met Casper about eleven years ago when I became a part of his family. Back then he had a younger  friend called Gizzy. Gizzy wasn't exactly attention seeking but she was more vocal and generally upstaged Casper for attention when she needed it. Casper was happy to let her. I think it saved him from having to get our attention because he knew whatever Gizzy was asking for he'd probably get too.

The two of them were part of our lives and probably indirectly inspired much of my cat art that I'm known for with their antics. Gizzy in particular would madly dash up anything at speed without any thought for the climb down and how that was to be achieved.

Casper would dash up things too but he wasn't quite as light and agile as Gizzy so often he wouldn't climb quite as high. Though he lost none of his strength in his last year, having witnessed him, from a standing start climb a two and a half metre pole, dragging himself onto the top using only his front legs to pull the rest of his body up.

Gizzy in my Evanston Studio.

Gizzy never passed away. I let her out one night with Casper over two years ago and she just never came back. We never knew what happened to her. She just vanished. I like to think she found her way to somewhere better to live - as unrealistic as that might be. However, until you actually know what happened it doesn't hurt to be positive - since we'll probably never know.

When Gizzy vanished it brought Casper out of being in her shadow. He had to ask for things himself and became more vocal accordingly. It also brought him closer into the family. Casper didn't need a lot of attention. He was quite okay doing his own thing but every now and then he liked to be in someone's company and just kind of sit and contemplate with you (or sleep on your lap if it was evening).

Casper on my desk with
my morning coffee.
Before our dog, Oscar, came along it was Casper who would sit on my desk while I worked on my computer.

Although I love Oscar I never really thought it was the best idea to get a dog whilst we still had Casper. Dogs and especially puppies need a lot more attention so Casper kind of got marginalized again, only more so because Oscar wasn't a cat.

Oscar freaking out over being
so close to Casper grooming.
He eventually learned to tolerate Oscar as a part of the family and, on occasion, Oscar could tempt Casper into a game of chasey but I don't think he ever saw Oscar as anything more than a friendly annoyance.

Though Oscar did teach Casper about food sampling from our meals. When I first started feeding Oscar small tidbits from my lunch, Casper soon found out and both of them became a fixture, not far from us, at any meal time. Casper was more particular. If he didn't like what you let him sample he wouldn't wait around because he knew it probably wasn't going to get any better.

On Casper's last day, he'd been to the Vet the evening before for some antibiotics and pain killers, he seemed to be a little better. He ate more of his breakfast than he had the day before and even sampled some of my lunch. It was quite a shock to see him rapidly go down hill only hours later, in a lot of distress from internal bleeding.

We took him back to the vet in the hope something could be done but unfortunately there wasn't anything  that would have helped. He probably wouldn't have survived an operation in the Vet's opinion.

Although I used to play with Gizzy she always had Casper as her companion. Casper kind of became my companion after Gizzy vanished. He'd spend a lot of time in the same room as me when he needed company and would position himself right in my face if he needed real attention. Once Oscar arrived he did this kind of thing less because he wasn't the kind of cat to compete for attention.

Casper's age and quietly confident nature made him a much better listener than Oscar. Talking to Oscar, I swear sometimes all he hears is, "Do you want to play now?" He'll become a better listener with age I hope.

The purpose of this post was really just to put down some memories of Casper and to a lesser extent, Gizzy and Oscar, in a longer article than a Facebook Status update. Casper was my kind of companion pet. He didn't need a lot of attention and if you really tried you could encourage him to play, if only for a very short time. For the most part he did his own thing but was there in the background, ready to listen to me ramble on when no one else was around and to be a companion.

He thought the Frog Van was cool too (sleeping in the drivers seat when he could get to it. Usually when I was working on the van).

I'm still seeing him out of the corner of my eye and looking around expecting to see him there. I also still think about him whenever I take Oscar for a walk. I used to look back to see if Casper wanted to come out the front door so he could sit out the front until we got back.

I didn't choose him as a pet but he will certainly be missed by me.



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