I have lived with many great cats over the years. My present cat, Lucy, sometimes bites and this inspires my paintings of grumpy cats! I love drawing and just observing cats from life or photos, but when I set out to paint an imaginary cat portrait I literally use the “cat” as a blank canvas on which to explore and play with human personalities and emotions.
It is not uncommon to paint an imaginary “cat” and then have a visitor appear at a market who will see themselves in that portrait! In the case of Mel, (the first cat image below), a real fellow named Mel showed up at a market on Hornby Island one fine summer day, and we both were struck not only by the coincidence of the name but also of the resemblance. He bought the painting, and I love when that happens!
I am a “dog person” too, but because dogs are already so human and emotionally wide open, I don’t want to personify them, so the dog portraits in the portfolio are mostly commissions.