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Sunday, December 30, 2018

In Memory of Champion, a.k.a. Champion of the World

I recently - and finally! - completed my portrait of Champion.  Champion was my friends,  Patty's and Larry's, beloved cat.  They got him from a shelter when he was a kitten and lived a happy and full life with them.  He was truly a beloved family member.  Rest in Peace, little Champion.

I began with the drawing of Champion.  Patty had given me several photos of him, and I worked from them.  I struggled to get a good likeness, but when I was satisfied many other projects intervened and it was several months until I got back to him.  During that time I was contemplating what I wanted his portrait to look like.  And in the end, I decided on a combination of motifs and techniques that I use often.

It used to trouble me that I keep using favorite motifs and techniques, but I now realize that it's my style - a good thing!

The concept of this portrait is that Champ has passed on and is now an angel.  Mouse and Bird angels look on from above the arch.  Champ is surrounded by foliage representing the outdoors that he so loved.  A crown of laurel surround him - crowns of laurel being given to heroes in the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome.

I began the background with opaque blues and greens then applied stenciled tissue paper, then transparent washes.  I began Champ with the eyes and nose, then painted in the base color of the laurel wreath.

Continuing, I painted Champ with light washes of transparent acrylic, then added tiny lines of fur and finally more washes.

I then turned to the bird and mouse, painting them both the same way as Champ - washes, details, and more washes.  After applying three coats of varnish, I added the gold dot haloes.  I've learned that varnish dulls the gold paint, so I add the gold on top of the varnish.

 Here's a detail of Champ.  I wrote "I love you" above his head as a constant message from Champ to Patty and Larry, and vice versa.

Here's the detail of the mouse, and, below, the sparrow.

I am very happy with this piece and think it's one of the best I've done.  I asked Champ to help me, and I think he did.  Thank you, Champion.

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