Friday, May 06, 2011


The Kitties were gearing up for an art lesson this week, since I've been immersed in Pikaland Artist Bootcamp. But then we found out that An American in Paris was this week's "Essential Movie" on TCM. Hopelessly devoted to Gene Kelly since I was a kid, I've seen this movie a zillion times. (And I could always go for one more.)

I remembered that during one of my favorite dance numbers in this film Gene Kelly's character gives the neighborhood kids a lesson in song and dance.

But how do I get there? 
Drawing--Step 1
For me, creating boxes isn't as easy as it looks.
I'm straight-line challenged.
Once I have an idea of what I want to draw, I get images in my head of which cat will be doing what. In this case, B.J. was the winner for pulling off the dance sequence. (Hands down, he is the dancer of the family.) 

For this week's drawing, I had to watch the dance a few times to figure out which moments to capture. I use 9-inch by 12-inch spiral-bound all-media books for my drawings and begin each one in pencil. For a drawing with lots of action, I create however many panels I think I'll need for each scene. Usually, I use only six boxes. Here, I needed a couple more panels, so I made them a bit smaller (7 centimeters by 9 centimeters).

Next, I drew most of it out and began tracing my pencil with pen.

Drawing--Step 2
I haven't prepared a good lesson: I forgot to scan this pencil drawing before I began tracing.  

I don't usually bother drawing small details, like music notes or words, in pencil unless I need a reminder. Here, I did have to mark the cats in the crowd (with tiny first-name initials). Otherwise, I'd forget which was which by the time I got my Prismacolor markers out.

Drawing--Step 3
Halfway there....

Then, I color until I'm done, and my fingers are usually stained in rainbow shades by the end of the night. While coloring this one, I realized that I forgot some tails and needed a more colorful background. We're in Paris after all, surrounded by art--with a George Gershwin soundtrack! Who could ask for anything more?

Lesson (April 29, 2011)
(Illustration Friday: April 29, 2011) 
As Gene Kelly would say, Viola! 

The winner of six Oscars, including one for Best Picture, An American in Paris is a classic MGM musical everyone should see. Directed by the great Vincent Minelli, the story follows Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly), a struggling painter who falls in love with a young French girl named Lise (Leslie Caron). Although they spend all of their spare time together, neither knows what happens when they are apart. Jerry is spending hours preparing for his first exhibition, organized by a rich sponsor (Nina Foch) who has a crush on him. Lise, meanwhile, is engaged to a cabaret singer--a friend of her parents who cared for her during the war. Don't worry, it all turns out okay.

Amidst all this drama, of course, is some fantastic music and wonderful dancing. In one dance number, Jerry teaches the neighborhood children some English. He starts by pointing out objects on the street, moves on to singing "I Got Rhythm" with them, and then--Well, B.J.'s got it down.

Sadly, I couldn't embed the song and dance on my blog for your viewing pleasure, but you can find it on YouTube here.

Enjoy--It'll make you smile!


Kat said...

love the siamese!

Melissa Connolly said...


Janet illustrator said...

This is a wonderful illustration. There is a definate sense of movement and joy.