#29 Painting by numbers

Written by Shelle

25 May 2022

Well, not quite, but it might as well have been!

My mate Anthony Pryde messaged me one day to excitedly announce he’d found a challenge for me – in Artists & Illustrators magazine. Oh heck!

The brief was to paint a lifelike portrait with just three colours plus white…. Hmmm. I’ve not really done much art since college and my skills weren’t up to much even then!

I’m lucky to have a friend called Michelle Smith, who’s very into arts and crafts. She has all the tools of the trade – plus the all-important talent – and she suggested we could complete this challenge together. I was grateful for the help and guidance.

She suggested a planning session – genius! We spent an hour or so drinking coffee and discussing what to paint. I suddenly remembered a photo of a family cat from the late 80s/early 90s, which would make a cute subject. I trawled through the photos on my laptop and found the one I was looking for and we did some very basic pencil sketches, just to get an idea of what the picture might look like. See the sketch among the attached photos…

The planning session really helped, so, when we convened in her garden the following sunny Sunday afternoon, I was ready to go. The photo was of Tipsy the cat looking at herself in the bathroom mirror (yes, very random!). I decided to take the reflection, and Michelle tackled the actual cat.


We’d been inspired by some amazing multi-coloured abstract portrait paintings that we’d seen on YouTube, and decided to be adventurous with our colours. Check out this YouTube channel to see what I mean.

It’s about being adventurous with colour and texture and I’ve got a long way to go to get the technique right! BUT, I’m quite pleased with my yellow, wonky-eyed version of Tipsy in the mirror. She’s kinda cute. Michelle cracked open the Prosecco once we’d finished painting and, I must say, the more I drank, the better my painting looked!

Michelle’s cat looked fab, and we put the two side-by-side to loosely recreate the original photo.

All in all, a good challenge – not something I would ever have spent time doing, but actually very therapeutic, and rather fun.

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