Colorful Pet Portrait of MC

Colorful Tabby Cat Pet Portrait

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Just completed on April 7, 2020 is this colorful pet portrait of a brown and white tabby cat named MC.  It was created with acrylic paints on a 12″ x 16″ stretched canvas.  The portrait was created using a photograph as a reference with a few modifications. You can see a larger version of this painting in my Pet Portraits portfolio.

The “brown” tabby stripes of this cat are actually created with a whole rainbow of colors!  Instead of large areas of the same color, I used a small round paintbrush to create fur texture using different colors next to each other in small amounts.  This creates an illusion where when viewed from a distance, the colors merge and become brown, but when viewed up close, you can see each brush stroke is a different color.  Click on the images below to see a close up view of the details in the face and body fur.


It was both a challenge and fun to create the tabby stripes on MC. Tabby markings aren’t just stripes.  They are usually blotches and spots as well.  Brown tabbies actually aren’t brown at all.  Their fur features what is called an “agouti” pattern, where each individual hair has bands of color along it, known as “ticking”.  When a lot of these hairs are grouped together, they give the illusion of color and markings.

The white areas of his fur were also created with multiple colors. The light source for the reference photo was from the right side, so it created a nice shadow on the side of his face.  I created this in the painting by using lots of blue and purple colors.  I balanced the cool blues and purples with warm pinks, orange and yellow throughout the white areas.

I chose the background color, a gradient of yellows, greens, and blues, to bring out the rich green color of his eyes.  The style I used for the background is what I call confetti. I create a gradient of the lighter colors first, then layer short thick brush strokes of the adjacent color overtop.  This creates an interesting yet non distracting background.  The lighter area of the background (yellow) is adjacent to the darkest areas of the cat’s body.  The darkest area of the background (blue and purple) is adjacent to the lightest areas of the cat’s portrait, mainly the face and upper body.  This contrast helps the cat “pop” out from the background.

MC photo and painting comparison

MC photo and painting comparison

Above you can see the comparison of the photo reference on the left to the painting on the right.  You can see that some changes were made to the portrait compared to the photo.  I rotated the reference photo so the cat was more horizontal.  The collar was removed.  The chair and background were changed, bringing the focus on the cat.  The orientation of his ears was modified slightly, bringing them more forward.  This gives the cat a more relaxed appearance.  In the photo the cat’s ears are more flattened toward the side, sometimes called “airplane ears”.  This can typically indicate displeasure or stress, or maybe he was listening to something in the background.  But it gives the impression of irritation, and I thought it would be better to have the ears at a more relaxed angle.

If you enjoy this painting, and want a similar one of your own pet, please visit my Pet Portrait Information page here to learn more about the process.

This painting is available as a fine art print in my gallery store.  Choose from multiple paper types with hundreds of options for framing.  You can also choose a canvas print, metal print, acrylic print, or wood print.  Other products available are a cell phone case, throw pillow, fleece blanket, coffee mug, tote bag, wall tapestry, greeting cards, and a spiral notebook.