Nine lives

I drew some cats.

Top row: On the prowl and Two’s company; three’s a clowder. Middle row: What’s this?  and Hello, small friend. Bottom row: Going batty and Hissy fit.

I’m really pleased with how they’ve come out and they were surprisingly easy to do. If you’re feline (sorry) arty, this is the purr-fect (sorry again) way to a-mews (OK, OK, I’ll stop now) yourself.

First, you need to wet and stretch your paper, and stick it down with gummed parcel tape. If you don’t do this, when you come to apply the paint, it’ll ripple and cockle and generally look pretty awful.


When you’ve done that, and you’re happy that the paper isn’t going to slip away from its moorings, splodge some more water and some paint on it. I used acrylic because I wanted my skies to be quite vibrant, but you could use watercolour if you wanted a more subtle or subdued effect. Use a brush or a sponge or a piece of kitchen towel to make some nice streaks across your paper.  Use any, all, or every colour that takes your fancy. Sunsets and sunrises have the most amazing array of colours and that’s what you’re trying to recreate.


Let it dry. I’m not sure that this is essential, but you’ll probably get in a horrible mess if you don’t.

When it is dry, cut the paper from the tape, and – depending on size (mine was a little larger than A2) – cut it into pieces. These measure approximately 15 cm x 27 cm

six pieces

Turn the pieces round. Decide which way up they look best. There’s no right or wrong way – it just depends on what pleases you aesthetically.

Take a brush and some black ink and paint in a bit of foreground. I like Winsor & Newton Black India Ink because – well – it’s just so black. (It’s really versatile – you can dilute it with water to get a really pale wash; you can use it with a pen or a brush; it doesn’t fade or discolour – it’s just lovely, lovely stuff.)


You can do trees and bushes and flowers and bulrushes if you feel the urge – I just did vaguely rocky terrain and the occasional patch of grass. Don’t make it too detailed, though, or it’ll detract from the cats.

The nice thing about silhouette art is that it can really make an impact — and, providing you get the outline right, the details just seem to suggest themselves.

As you can see here, I decided that two of the four pieces were better upside down.

When that’s dry, sketch in the outline of your cats.

You can do this very gently with a pencil if you need to, but remember you won’t be able to rub it out afterwards without damaging your sky. I’m kinda lucky in that I seem to be able to look at something and just draw it without needing to do a preliminary pencil sketch. How I do this is beyond me, so – other than saying ‘draw what you see’ (how platitudinous is that!?) – I can’t really give you any hints here. It probably helps, in this instance, that I have three cats: Boswell (Boz), Matilda (Tilly), and their mother, Viola (Vi). (I was going to tell you how I came to acquire this little family of felines, but I’ve just been informed that to do so would mean I’d qualify as a crazy cat lady. Hey ho. Some other time, maybe.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, sketch your cat(s).


I used the Staedtler pen for this. I usually use Rotring pens but I thought I’d try something new. The ink flow isn’t quite as good with the Staedtler, but for fine detail (like cats’ whiskers) it’s really good. Then fill in the outlined shape with your brush and ink.

part fill

If you haven’t got a very steady hand and/or you’re afraid of going over the line, you can stop a couple of millimetres away and finish off the edges with your pen (the Rotring would be better than the Staedtler for this).


So, now you have foreground and cats. If the ‘story’ seems complete at this point — stop.

twos company threes a clowder
Two’s company; three’s a clowder
on the prowl
On the prowl
Hissy fit
Hissy fit

But if you feel something extra is needed, add a flower…

What's this
What’s this?

… or a mouse…

Hello, small friend
Hello, small friend

… or (my favourite) a bat…

Going batty
Going batty


However, if you don’t feel like drawing your own cats, prints of all of these are available in an open edition. Message me ( or comment below for prices and current stock.


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