To paint a cat, you can’t just reproduce its image – for some reason ceramic seems to lack the gravitas of paper. You try to paint a cat realistically and you get something offensive to cats – a generic image that says ‘painted cat’. To paint a cat on ceramics, then, and not insult all felinity, you have to capture its essence. And the essence of a cat is personality.
More prosaically, the other thing to keep in mind when painting a cat on a bowl or a plate or any ceramic item is proportion. It has to really claim the space (if it’s an open surface) or compliment the form (if it’s a closed or cylindrical surface). Because every painted mark is permanent, it’s quite easy to get this part wrong!
Otherwise, all you need is a paintbrush, some oxide or underglaze and a fondness for cats.
Here is where there should be a photo gallery of painted cats, showing a range of more- and less-successful efforts. But all I have to offer are the following two images:
This cat knows how to pose for a photograph, but the photographer has left a lot of white space…
Also, the glaze is too thin, so the end result is a bit watered-down looking. Will have to have another go at this one. It needs to be bolder and the blue needs to be richer to do justice to this noble looking specimen (he looks just like Vladimir Nabokov’s father – I refer only to his expression, of course!).
I like this bowl quite a lot. This cat has found a comfortable spot to curl up, and is trying her best to be inconspicuous, but those stripes are pretty strong! I bet she’s a great mouser.