I have long loved Art Deco/Art Nouveau and Poster Art. Back in the late 90s, I saw Théophile Alexandre Steinlen’s 1896 Color Lithograph poster for the cabaret called Le Chat Noir.  I had always wanted to try my hand at doing a version of the poster but never got around to it.

Well, I finally did!

I took a little license, namely changing it from the name of a cabaret to the name of my precious cat so that I could commemorate the anniversary of her being with me for two years.  I also changed the kitty’s eyes and added in Bastet’s white star to make it more her.

I started the painting back at the beginning of May but didn’t finish it until a month later. Turns out, what I assumed would be a very simple piece turned out to be a bit more complicated! Here are some of the snags:

  1. Choice of Subject: When I first saw this poster so many years back, I figured I could churn out the picture in a night.  It was very basic in shape and didn’t have a lot of fiddly bits. I was very mistaken, for several reasons.
    • Color: I knew it was going to take several coats to get the rich hue I wanted, but I didn’t expect just how many. I lost count how many times I had to go over it. I just couldn’t get the depth of color I wanted without using lots…and lots…and lots of paint.
    • Strong bright highlights in a dark field: It would be great if I could just layer the yellow highlights in over the black, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen so I had to paint *around* the highlights. It was a lot more detailed than it looks and took a lot of coats on both the background colors and the highlights.
  2. Canvas: I decided to use an old, stained on I had lying around the house. This would have been fine for a picture with dark hues like “The Flight That Unites,” but with all the yellow, it was hard to get the yellow to cover the stains
  3. Sketching in Pencil: Ordinarily, I sketch in pencil. Again, had this been dark colors, it would not have been as much as a problem.  The graphite in the pencil smeared and combined with the yellow, muddying it and contributing to my need to do a billion coats.

Overall, I am glad to have ticked off a project that has been bouncing around on the backburner for far too long, but I think I am going to continue to play with it – but digitally! I think it might be fun to try different backgrounds and other approaches to this same composition and idea.


NOTE: I just realized – now that it is way too late – I was supposed to have an e at the end of noir.  *headdesk*  That’s an F in French for me!


Finished Piece

The Gla-mew-rous Model

Bastet Ishtar Sekhmet Titania Sombra De Elba Mew Mew Mew

Bastet Ishtar Sekhmet Titania Sombra De Elba Mew Mew Mew

The Original 1898 Poster

by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

Original Poster

The Development of the Piece