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For years I’ve gazed at my lovely cats and I’ve wished I could paint them with watercolors. I never considered myself a two-dimensional artist, I always found it easier to create three dimensional things. My mother painted lovely watercolors for many decades along with my stepfather, and recently my sister Laurie started painting some amazing watercolors. She had enrolled in a watercolor painting class at a small community college in St. Helen, Michigan – Kirtland Community College. I was just blown away by her first paintings, and at her urging, I signed up for the Fall 2007 class. Who knew that an utterly brilliant art instructor would be squirreled away at Kirtland! Scott Rice is a truly gifted artist and is especially talented with using color.

My first painting was Aquarius Eyes, painted from a photo of one of my favorite cats – GP, RW Winterfrost Aquarius. For three weeks I thought I was painting a disaster, but then suddenly it took on a life of its own, and with Scott’s guidance, it turned out really interesting. I learned a great deal from painting that picture, and I use derivatives of the techniques Scott showed me for the eyes themselves to work with Photoshop to touch up eyes for my cat photos when those photos have had severe eye flash or red eye or when the color isn’t even close to the actual eye color of the cat.

Aquarius Eyes
Aquarius Eyes

My second painting was the Panda Butterfly, which was painted from a photo I took of a fish I had some time ago. I thought I’d never finish all those stones!!! My third was the painting of my husband Jim with my all time heart and soul cat Mouse perched on his shoulder. That was a tough painting to finish – painting Jim was the easy part, but painting Mouse was heart wrenching. I thought both turned out closely resembling themselves.

Panda Butterfly

Jim and Mouse Watercolor
Jim and Mouse

I signed up for the Summer  2008 session at Kirtland, and from that class emerged the painting of Winter (Leggs Winter Wind of El-Dia, DM). Winter had the most gorgeous deep purple blue eyes, and was such a sweet cat. In the photo I used she had just snuggled in some bedding fresh from the dryer and was purring her heart out.


Another early painting is of Moondust (GC Winterfrost Moondust). I painted this picture entirely on my own, Scott made two tiny color suggestions, one of which I sort of ignored because of the effect I was trying to achieve. I think he’s resigned to letting me paint cats, though I believe he’d prefer me to branch out and paint other things.

GC Winterfrost Moondust

Winterfrost Kittens

GC Winterfrost Magic Charm of El-Dia, Winterfrost Talisman of Operakatz
and PR Winterfrost Magic Touch


"Angels" is a watercolor I painted as a memorial for my friends
Chuck and Bonnie Searles of Nacada Orientals.

The two cats in the painting are DD and Little, who were best friends in life.

I got you, Babe

This painting is from a photo taken by friends at a cat show a while ago. It probably perfectly depicts how close Goblin and I were to each other. I painted Goblin, but most of the credit for Valerie in this painting goes to my brilliant art instructor Scott Rice. Since this was sort of a joint effort, Scott signed the Valerie side and I signed the Goblin side.

I Wuv My Brudder



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Copyright © by Valerie Smith. All rights reserved.
All photographs are copyrighted by by the individual photographers.
Web graphics by Anne Davis (Invidia), site design by V
irginia Wheeldon.