Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cat Painting #11, Listening...a black cat painting

Pistol, our black cat, loves to sit on the kitchen chairs and catch a little sunshine. On this particular day, he was listening intently for the sound of our German Shepherd coming down the hall. See, they have this little game they play...it's one of chase, and they've played it since Max was a pup. Two and a half years later, nothing's changed...Pistol still sits in the chair, his gaze fixed on the hallway and his ears listening for the sound of those dog toenails. :)

This painting was a tough one for me...it's been so long since I've painted a solid black animal, which, of course, is NOT just solid black. There are so many colors involved. After I got my brain wrapped around the direction I needed to go, the painting went smooth and fast. I think Pistol looks very handsome in all his colors. :)

This painting is available here:

Listening, oil pastel on board, size 8x10" $100

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cat Painting #11, black cat portrait in progress

Today I'm working on a black cat portrait. It's been a long time since I've painted a black animal - which any artist knows, doesn't involve *just* black. :) There are many, many colors in the fur of a black animal...it's just a matter of being able to see them. He's coming along pretty good so far. This is our black cat, Pistol. He's an indoor only cat, so most of the photos I have of him are not so hot....plus he doesn't like to pose for me, which makes it difficult. As usual, it's challenging, which I love. :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A family of Cedar Waxwings

I've been trying for weeks to get photos of these beautiful birds. Today, they decided to attack a couple of our holly bushes for the berries. And I finally got photos of these Cedar Waxwings...gorgeous little birds with a beautiful song! Click the photos to see larger ones.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cat Painting #10, Music Man

Rowdy has found a new toy to play with - the family keyboard. He likes to walk across the keys and hear the noise and eventually will lay down on them. We captured this delightful photo of him doing a cute little dance across the keys, showing his fancy footwork along with his musical ability. :)

Music Man, oil pastel on board, size 8x10" $100

A few afternoon visitors

Allyson spent the afternoon trying to capture our elusive groundhog on camera. While she was waiting, she had a few other visitors.
You lookin' for me?

Look, I can do a little dance for ya!

How's this pose?

Hey, don't forget about me up here!

Did you say groundhog? Where...where?!

And the fella finally came out from under the building. Here he's shown sniffing the side of the storage shed.

And here he is, venturing out a bit more.

Because the groundhog was photographed with our zoom lens - which is not the greatest - his photos aren't as good as the others. But the way Allyson is, she'll have the guy eating out of her hand soon!

P.S. Any idea what groundhogs like to eat?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cat Painting #10, in progress round 2

Well this is as far as I've gotten today on this painting. Since it's almost my bedtime and my eyes are watering, I'm stopping for today and will pick up on it tomorrow...which will actually be the hardest part, as I'll have to paint the keyboard Rowdy is sitting on. So looks like I've got my work cut out for me tomorrow!

Cat Painting #10, in progress

I would have to pick a difficult scene to do on an 8x10" board. It's tough to do an animal "full body" on this size board and get the realism I desire with oil pastel. I'm not saying it can't be done...it's just more tedious and time-consuming. Mistakes are inevitably made and just take a while to repair. So this painting of Rowdy, who is sitting on my keyboard, is challenging, and will be challenging throughout the entire process. Not to mention, the photo I'm working from is awful as far as lighting, but I like the pose, so I've taken on the challenge. It will take longer than one day, I already know that! Here's an in progress photo of what I've got done after about 3 hours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sammi the Cockatiel, finished painting in oil pastel

Here's Sammi's finished painting. I'll pick up a frame for the painting on Friday or Saturday so we can hang it above her empty cage as a reminder of our little friend. The photo below shows the close up detail of the painting.

And for some reason, the cats were all over me when I was trying to photograph Sammi's painting. Below you'll see Rowdy posing with the finished work...this is the closest he has ever been allowed to Sammi. :) Notice the shadow in the door...that is Max looking on, anticipating I might let him outside.

The background on the painting looks more blue-ish in my photos, but it's actually a nice royal purple color in real life.

If you're interested in commissioning your own painting of your pet, please visit my page on my website with prices - I'm offering special pricing on 8x10" paintings like this one right now.

Also, while Sammi's original painting is not for sale, the artwork is available on a variety of products such as cards, magnets, and apparel here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sammi the Cockatiel, painting in progress

Today I'm working on a painting of Sammi, my cockatiel who passed away yesterday. I thought it might help me deal with the grief of losing her. I am painting her with one of her favorite bird toys, and this will be framed and hang over her empty cage as a reminder of her.

Please vote for Oreo's Photo!

Please vote for Oreo in this week's photo contest...we could win a new vacuum which we desperately need! Click here to cast your vote!

Monday, March 23, 2009

RIP - Sammi the Cockatiel

Today I am so sad...we lost our cockatiel Sammi. I uncovered her cage this morning and found her lying on the bottom. I don't know what happened. Sammi was with us about 6 years. She was such a funny bird, but the last couple of years have been rough because she became an egg layer and her personality changed quite a bit. She hasn't laid any eggs in a while though. She will be missed very much. I already miss her whistles and chirps...if you've never had a bird in the house, you have no idea how much delight and cheer they bring. It's very depressing here today and so quiet. :( We have a parakeet named Abby, but even he has been quiet today, as if he knows something isn't right.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Oliver the Poodle, Completed Painting

This week, I worked on a commission painting of Oliver the Poodle. Above is the original photo, below is the finished 8x10" portrait of Oliver.

Oliver ended up living a hard life. He may have possibly come from a puppy mill, born and raised in a crate. His owner found him while walking her dog one day. Oliver ran with another dog daily, and was tormented by children and teenagers chasing him all over the neighborhood...why? Because there was a poster up about a lost poodle with a 1000 dollar reward on his head. It took 6 months for his rescue owner to make friends with him and make him a part of her family because Oliver was fear aggressive, space aggressive, food aggressive, people aggressive, and dog aggressive. After 2 1/2 years of working with Oliver, his owner was finally able to take him to visit others without him peeing in their house or biting them when they reached for him. His owner says, "He was adorable and everyone loved him. He did know how to charm people." Oliver passed away in October 2008. May he rest in peace, and may he always be remembered.

To commission a painting of your pet, please view my commission page on my website.

Introducing the GalleryJai.Com Patron Program

Today I've added the details of the GalleryJai.Com Patron Program to the website. I've started this program to obtain more donors in order to help me continue my work in the arts. There are numerous events and shows I'd like to attend later this year, and all works must be framed in order to participate. My current plans for this years donor monies are to apply the funds toward framing the artworks, as well as to apply funds to several books which are in the works for publication. Read about the GalleryJai Patron Program and it's benefits for the different levels here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oliver the Poodle, in Progress painting

Today I thought I'd share an in progress photo of a painting I'm working on of Oliver the poodle. He's just the cutest thing, and reminds me of the poodle my grandparents had while I was growing up. I've still got a ways to go on Oliver...this may end up being another two day project, but I'm getting so much enjoyment out of working on his portrait, that's okay with me! :)

The Plan for the 365 Cat Paintings

The main reason I'm doing the 365 Cat Paintings is for publication in my book I'll be releasing, tentatively titled The Year of the Cat: 365 Cat Paintings, Original Art by Jai Johnson. Why did I choose cats? Because they are more challenging for me to paint than any other animal! I love challenges, plus I figured I'd get *very good* at painting cats by the time I'm done.

I am painting mostly my cats for the book, but will also include any commission works of other cats in the book. You can commission your cat's painting for a discounted rate here.

All of the original paintings are available for sale - they are purrfect for the cat collector! Anyone purchasing 5 or more original paintings from me will also receive a free copy of the book upon publication.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Help Find the Samoyeds A New Home

I just received this email from a group I'm on, and I thought I could help by posting this on my blog. I've owned a Samoyed - they are *beautiful* dogs and good family pets. Please feel free to pass this post along to anyone you know who might be interested!

There are 7 pure-bred female Samoyeds who need a "forever home" because their owner/breeder, Cathy Pendleton, is losing her battle with breast cancer. She can no longer care for her dogs and has been moved to Hospice after being in the hospital for a week.

I'm giving this a wider distribution than usual, so some of you may receive it more than once. Even though you may not be on a "rescue" group email, I'm including you in the hopes that you can forward on to the widest distribution so that these girls all have a chance to find the perfect new home. The dogs are in the Atlanta, GA, area, but they will allow them to be adopted out of state.

All the owner/breeder wants is for all of these girls to get good homes. Currently, they are not wanting to place any of the dogs in foster care because they are trying to move the dogs only once. My understanding is that the older animals have been spayed. Because she is a breeder, the younger dogs are not spayed; however the new family would need to have the dog spayed if she is less than seven years. (The dogs range in age from 1.5 years to more senior dogs.)

One look at their picture (above) shows how extraordinarily beautiful these dogs are. (I count 8 in the picture, but perhaps one has been placed already.) All are healthy and well cared for, up to date on shots, heartworm, flea treatment, etc.. The new "forever" home will need to have a fenced yard with sufficient space for an active dog. The folks who are placing the Samoyeds for the owner may do a home visit either before, after, or both to ensure that the dog and their new family are a good fit.

If you think you might be interested after reading Velvet's email (below), her contact info is v.a.simmons@att.net.

Thanks for giving this the widest distribution possible. Following is the email from the lady who is managing the adoption of these 7 lovely ladies:

Hello, everyone,
It is with great sadness to pass along that my dog breeder, Cathy Pendleton, whom I love and treasure, is losing her battle with breast cancer. She can no longer care for her dogs She is in hospice after being in the hospital for a week.

We are in the process of placing her Samoyeds. If you know of anyone who would like a sweet natured, playful pet, please let me know. She has all girls who range from 1.5 years old to more senior dogs. All are healthy and have been very well taken care of. New homes need to have space for an active dog and a fenced in back yard. We may do a home visit to ensure that these precious dogs and their new family are the right fit. There is no cost, but the new family will need to spay the dog if it is less than 7 years old.

They can move out of state. The new family needs to be willing to stay in touch with the "Sammy family." We will want to know how they are doing and if it is working out, etc.
Let me know if you have any leads. Thanks for your help!


Cat Painting #9, My Favorite Toy

One of Oreo's favorite toys is this catnip mouse...she absolutely goes nuts over it, is very proud of it, and loves to show it off after she catches it. I originally thought it was because of the catnip, however, she doesn't respond to other catnip toys as well as she does this one...so I'm beginning to think she likes the material this mouse is made from. In this painting, I've portrayed her exactly as she was photographed...lying upside down under me, showing off her favorite toy.

I thought I'd never finish this painting...it's been a rough, stressful week here at my place, and it's so hard to work under those conditions. I do NOT like to paint when my emotions are all over the place from stress. I find I'm totally unfocused and lost. Making decisions regarding the painting are difficult. But I plugged along - it took me two days instead of one - and I am pleased with the result. I'm exhausted though, as it seemed to have took much more out of me than normal to do this painting. I'm actually happy I was able to finish it in two days...the way it was going yesterday, I just knew it would take a week! :)

This painting is available:

My Favorite Toy, oil pastel on board, size 8x10" $100

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cat Painting #9, in progress

Skipped a day yesterday...too many issues I had to deal with, plus errands. So I'm trying to get back in the swing of things today with another cat painting, #9 in my series of 365 paintings. This is an in progress shot of Oreo's painting...her with her catnip mouse. Right now, I'm working the painting upside down - I know, it looks right-side-up here, but the photo was shot the other direction. I'm just painting it this way because it's easier, and closer to the end, I'll flip it.

I post these progress photos to show the beginnings (i.e. how awful) of how a painting looks. But by posting the in progress photo, I can also spot my problem areas before they get too far. For instance in this painting, I can already see I need more white highlight in the eyes, and the dark fur area on the left needs to be more speckled than smooth. So I still have some work to do on this area, but I like to let the oil pastels sit up a bit and cool off so I can work the area better. In the meantime, I'll start filling in the rest of her face on the right side.

This one may take longer than one day...I'm draggin' a bit after yesterday!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cat painting # 8, The Eyeball

This painting features Nikko with one of the cutest toys I've ever seen - a catnip eyeball I bought from an Etsy seller. The cats love this toy, and here Nikko is standing over her eyeball, looking up as if to say "Wow...look what I found! A real eyeball!" She always picks it up in her mouth and runs off with it after playing with it. I guess that would make her an eyeball hog. :)

The Eyeball, oil pastel on board, size 8x10" $100

Cat painting # 8 in progress

Today I'm painting Nikko with a favorite toy - a catnip eyeball I purchased on Etsy. Still have a way to go on this painting...I hope I can get it done today!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cat Painting #7, Those Eyes

Bootsie has beautiful eyes. I guess that's what got her in trouble. They're so big, and they glow like diamonds in the night. During her many evenings out on the town, she must have batted those beauties at some handsome male feline who said "Ooohlala, she's the one!". Six weeks later, she brought three gorgeous grandkittens to the house. Chest all puffed out and sitting proud, she looked at me with tired eyes and asked me to take over feeding them. Eyes...they'll get you in trouble sometimes. :)

This is painting #7 in my 365 Cat Paintings series and it's for sale here:

Those Eyes, oil pastel on board, size 8x10" $100

Take a look below at Bootsie checking out her painting:

I think she likes it!

She's smiling!

Cat Painting #7 in progress

Here's today's painting in progress. I believe I'll call this one "Those Eyes". This is Momma Bootsie, the mother to our three kittens (sorry, I know they are cats now...but we still call them the kittens!). I'm not sure if I'll have this painting photographed and online until tomorrow, as I've gotten sidetracked with my dog and his leg injury today (not serious I hope) and I'm trying to avoid a vet bill. In addition to getting sidetracked, I've been spending a lot of time on Bootsie's face/eyes - that's the focal part of this painting and it must be perfect. :) I'll probably finish it today, but if it's after dark, I won't be able to photo it until tomorrow. We'll see how it goes!

In the meantime, please stop by and check out my new website for my paintings at http://www.GalleryJai.Com! I worked on it all afternoon and into the night last night. I hope it will serve as a good showcase for my work.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cat Painting #6, Who Needs Toys?

Really...who needs toys when you can play with your own tail? :) This painting is based on a photo of Nikko. We'd brought her in on a rainy night and she was wet and cold, so we wrapped her in a towel and dried her off. Soon she wiggled out of the towel, and feeling all nice and toasty warm again, she got a little frisky and started playing with her own tail.

This painting is sold.

Below is the original snapshot this painting was based on. Not a great photo at all, so my challenge was to take it from not great to fabulous in a painting. I also didn't like the green carpet flooring, so I did a hardwood flooring in the painting, and I didn't like the color of the towel peeking out from under her (green and white) so I changed it to purple and white.

If you are interested in having a custom 8x10" painting of your pet (doesn't have to be a cat!), please visit this link - I'm offering special pricing on custom paintings!

Cat painting #6 in progress

Finally getting going on painting #6 in my series of 365 Cat Paintings. I had a little issue with my support. I was using watercolor canvas boards...which worked wonderful with the oil pastels. When I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up more of the 8x10" size, I discovered they are no longer carrying the Fredrix Watercolor Canvas! Go figure. As soon as I get started using something, they stop carrying it. (Yes, I fussed at them about it.) I tried regular canvas boards, but they are way too rough and I cannot get the detail I want for my portraits, especially in this 8x10" size.

So, after returning the regular canvas boards and inspecting all the other supplies, I finally decided on having mat board cut to my specifications. Mat board is something I know they'll always have in stock. Problem solved! Not to mention, the oil pastels actually perform better on the mat board due to the smoother surface. And an added benefit is mat board can be framed in virtually ANY frame, while canvas boards are too thick for regular frames and have to be framed in open back (i.e. much more expensive) frames. The mat board can be framed in regular *and* open back frames...so buyers of my paintings will have a variety of frame options for any budget!

This is painting #6, in progress. I'm working from an absolutely horrible snapshot taken of Nikko after she got doused in the rain. We'd brought her in to dry her off and after rolling in the towel, she started playing with her tail. It's an extremely cute pose, but the original photo stinks, so I'm hoping to do the scene justice in my painting. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Want your cat included in the 365 Cat Paintings series? read this...

I've had a few requests from owners who would like me to paint their cats in my new 365 Cat Paintings Series. And I thought it would be wonderful if I offered those owners a discount on an original painting of their cat...so here's the deal.

If you want me to paint an 8x10" oil pastel (on matboard, suitable for mounting in any standard 8x10" frame) painting of YOUR CAT, I will do so for $75 instead of my usual $100 purchase price for these paintings. For your $75, you will receive the original painting of your cat shipped to you upon completion, and to further thank you for participating in my series and allowing me to paint your cat, I'll send you a box of 10 notecards with your cat's painting, such as the ones featured here.

All I need from you are great photos of your cat in the pose you'd like him/her painted in. Full body or close up face shots will both work - just select some favorites from your photos, and email me the photos here. Upon completion of your cat's painting, I will email you the final photograph (plus you'll see an in-progress posted here to the blog just like I'm doing with all of the paintings in the series), and as soon as payment is received, your painting will be on its way to you! About a week later, you'll receive a box of 10 notecards featuring your painting, too! :)

I look forward to working with you and including your cat in my 365 Cat Paintings series. :)

P.S. So what if you don't have a cat, but you have a dog, bird, hamster, or other beloved pet? No problem! I'll offer YOU the same deal as I offer my "cat people". :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cat Painting #5, All Tuckered Out

It's always amazed me how a little kitten can be playing so vigorously one moment, and be fast asleep the next. Rowdy had been on a wild spree on this day almost a year ago, and I slipped inside the front door to grab the camera from my office desk. It literally took less than 30 seconds. When I came back outside with camera poised and ready, this is what I found - he was all tuckered out, sleeping peacefully with his head resting on his momma. :)

This original painting is oil pastel on canvas board, size 8x10 and is available for purchase here:

All Tuckered Out, oil pastel on board, size 8x10" $100

Oil pastel cat painting #5 in progress

Today's painting is based on a sweet photo of Rowdy as a baby sleeping on his Momma. It's called "All Tuckered Out" and this is an in progress shot of today's painting - painting #5 in my series of 365 Cat Paintings.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Red Mouse, Original cat painting #4

Oreo has always been adventurous. Whatever presents itself to her she sees as a challenge, and is always willing to pounce. This red mouse, however, made her a bit cautious. She assumed the beginning of her pounce position, yet stayed back for quite some time, staring intently and evaluating the toy for movement and possible danger. Which gave me just enough time to capture her photo. :)

This is painting #4 in my series 365 Cat Paintings, and is available for sale here.

Cat painting #4 in progress

Working on #4 in the 365 Cat Paintings series...this painting features Oreo scoping out a red toy mouse. So far it's been pretty difficult but now that I've got her eyes and nose complete, maybe the rest will go smoother!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Planning the Escape oil pastel cat painting

Rowdy may look all sweet and cute here, laying on this royal purple pillow, but in reality, he was planning his escape route from the scene I'd set up to photograph. Which is typical of this cat...he doesn't like to sit still for any length of time - especially when there's a camera involved. Unless he's sleeping, of course. :)

This oil pastel painting is size 8x10" on canvas board and is available here. This is the 3rd painting in my new series, 365 Cat Paintings.

I brought the 3 paintings I've completed outside to re-photograph them and be able to show their true colors better. Nikko wanted to assist, so I made her hold her own painting up and snapped her photo. I know, she looks less than thrilled. :)

Here's a photo of the three paintings I've just completed. Rowdy, Nikko and Oreo. As many bird and animal paintings I've done, I still find cats the most difficult. I don't know why. I guess it just fits the personality of the cat --> challenging. :)

Oil Pastel Painting of Rowdy in progress

Today I'm working on a painting of our sweet Rowdy. Here's an in progress shot of what I've accomplished so far.