So in the harsh light of day, I look again at my cat. Rubbed out a few marks I hadn’t spotted under artificial light and gave myself a stiff talking to. ‘Don’t fiddle’ should be written across every watercolourist’s heart. The temptation is overwhelming sometimes, but you lose the energy and freshness so easily…
Here’s the finished picture and I’ve done a close up of the eye. I realised I said ‘paint the eye’, which is totally unhelpful.
I would paint the eye all over, apart from the highlight. Make sure the highlight has shape which goes with the contours of the eye. Camera flash gives a dot, but nature doesn’t. When it is damn, lift colour with a damp brush to give shape to it and add a little secondary colour around the edges, which should feather in to give the speckles and veins you see in the iris. Be patient and let it dry before painting the iris on top. Remember there will be shadow from the eyelid, so put it in to help anchor the eye in the socket. With birds’ eyes, it is often good to bleed the colour into the surrounding area to help anchor them. It all depends on the anatomy of the animal.
Here’s another cat in the same colours, but using a blowing technique (lots of puff required) to get a bit of wild fur going on: