TUTORIAL: How to Paint a Little Kitten in Watercolor

Today, I’m showing you how to paint a kitten in the straw, using simple shapes and a few colors.

Draw the Kitten

In the video, you’ll notice that I add little wispies of hair to get that fluffy kitten look by using negative painting. But for the underlying drawing don’t worry about putting those in.  The step-out above shows you the basic shapes, and that’s all you need.

Your finished drawing should look something like this.

Start With The Face First

Paint the eyes with a light wash of Charlie O’Blue.  Use the smaller brush and a very watery mix of Charlie O’Blue to fill in the complete eye except for the highlights which should be to the middle left.

Paint the Nose, Mouth, and inside of ears with a light wash of Quinacridone Red. 

While that dries, switch to the larger brush and paint the upper background with a medium-dark wash of Indigo. 

Immediately, while the Indigo is still wet, paint over it with Charlie O’Blue to brighten the color. Make your brush strokes follow the shapes, going down the side of the face, across over the head, and along the curve of the straw bed.  Doing this, if you end up with streaks, they’ll give a feeling of energy and help focus the eye on the kitten and the straw. 

While that dries, switch back to the small brush and paint the Iris of the eye with a medium-dark wash of Indigo. Paint a roughly rounded shape. Keep the white highlights, and be sure to leave some of the Charlie O’Blue showing.

While the Indigo is still wet, paint around the indigo with a thin layer of Charlie O’Blue. Let the colors blend. Shadow the upper eye with a little more of the Charlie O’Blue. You want to have three distinct values — the round pupil with Indigo, the darker Charlie O’Blue, and the lighter layer of Charlie O’Blue showing in the corner of the eyes.

Paint a little Charlie O’Blue at the bottom of the nose and the top of the mouth for shading.

Paint the straw with Gold Ochre. Leave a few streaks of white here and there.

While the Gold Ochre is wet, paint areas at the bottom with Terra Cotta. Let the colors blend.

Paint wisps of straw into the background with terra cotta .

Let the straw dry.

Use a very watery mix of Charlie O’Blue to shade the kitten. Use a little more color where the head and body separate, around the nose and mouth, and along the bottom of the kitten.

Make a watery mix of a little Charlie O’Blue and Opus. 

Use the wash to add a darker shade between head and next, around the nose and mouth, and between leg and hip.

Use terra cotta to shade the straw under the kitten

That’s pretty much it. Look at the painting and see if you need to make adjustments. I added a thin wash of gold ochre to the straw to brighten it a bit.

If you lost the white highlights, use a dab of white gouache or a white ink pen to add them back..

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and will give it a try.



Hahnemuhle Collection Watercolor Block Cold Pressed 9×12 300gsm

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Sketching Stuff Coloring Set 

Princeton Artist Brush Co. Velvetouch Synthetic Series 3950 Long Round Size 4

Princeton Artist Brush Co. Brush Neptune, Brushes for Watercolor Series 4750, Quill Synthetic Squirrel, Size 4

Water – 1 container for cleaning off brush; 1 container for mixing with paint

Rag or Paper Towel

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8 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: How to Paint a Little Kitten in Watercolor

  1. Hello Ms. Sandra,

    Thanks a ton for this video tutorial! I will definitely give it a try. 🙂❤


    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait

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