Not all mistakes are happy accidents

When the late Bob Ross said that mistakes are just happy accidents, he clearly didn’t live with cats. Or at least, he didn’t allow them into his studio. Now that I have four cats, I’m learning that painting alongside them can be very, very challenging! They bring so much life to my life and work space, but they certainly know how to create an accident or two.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”
Bob Ross

One of my first commissions this year, was to paint a watercolour portrait of a beautiful beagle called Bella. It started off well, until I walked away from my painting to make a cup of tea. One of my delightful little felines chose to add their opinion of the piece, by walking through the damp yellow ochre block and straight across the painting! Watercolour isn’t very forgiving as a medium, acrylic wouldn’t be a problem as it is opaque, but the translucent nature of watercolour can be far trickier in covering, or working with any problems. With some manipulation, I managed to save the mess on the dog, but I had to get creative with the back ground to cover the largest paw print. Still, I liked where the painting was going. I could have started again, but in the style of The Master Mr Ross, I decided to embrace the challenge set by the cat, and see where it took me. After all, I could always begin again if I didn’t like the way it ended.

I had already done a blue colour splash background, so I was able to do some royal blue splashes to blend with what was there. By using the darker shade in select places, I could disguise the cat’s print.

But then, disaster! A few days later, I was all set to finish the portrait, when I noticed the surface of the paper had been damaged. I have no idea how it happened, but this time the painting couldn’t be saved. Cats 1, beagle 0.
As it was, starting again was the best thing anyway. After speaking to the client after the accident, they decided they’d prefer a plain white background. Usually I would use some colour for the background to really emphasize the fur of the animal, but something a little simpler would be fine. The clients were very happy with the final piece, plus the latest cat-astrophe gave me the chance to make a fresh start, and improve on what I’d done before. This time, away from the pests pets.

The finished piece

Ah, the trials and tribulations of living and working alongside cats. When they’re not walking across paintings, they are stealing pencils, brushes, or the limelight in photos. I guess I could never call life boring with them though! I could ban them from the room in which I paint, but then I’ll miss their little faces and playful antics. I moan about them, but it wouldn’t be the same without them around me really. Maybe I’ll have to adopt their paw prints as a kind of signature!

To end with words from the great Ross, after all, he understood:

“I guess I’m a little weird. I like to talk to trees and animals. That’s okay though; I have more fun than most people.”
Bob Ross


Amy, LiL


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