Whether you love cats or like cats or are just curious about them, everyone is welcome to Lulu Mayo’s magical world inside “101 Super Cute Cat Things to Draw.”
In the book’s introduction, Mayo opens a window to her cuddly, well-rounded feline images that will attract artists, illustrators and even people who enjoy doodling.
As a result, she wants audiences of all ages and all skills to enjoy drawing. With easy to follow step-by-step instructions, the book encourages you to be creative and have fun in “a hundred delightful cat-themed drawing projects, doodle prompts and whimsical exercises.”
Mayo gives audiences a lot of helping hands from the preparatory stage forward.
First, there are the tools she suggests one can use – colored pencils of a professional grade, graphite drawing pencils (even a traditional No. 2 pencil if you wish), pigment-ink pens for adding details, art markers to create bands of strong colors or for shading or making patterns, good old reliable crayons for outlining or coloring large areas, plastic or vinyl erasers and sketch pads. If you don’t have a sketch pad nearby, loose-leaf pages or flattened paper bags might work.
With some (or all) of those tools in hand, you can get started by drawing a line. Mayo gives examples – maybe a straight line, a line of curlicues or a line of hashes. The page facing the lines is left blank so you can practice making the lines of your choosing in that open space.
That’s followed by coloring techniques, such as cross-hatching, stippling (small dots of color close together), stumbling (scribble randomly to create a mass of color), gradating (lighten, darken a color or blend colors).
Mayo next explains how colors can express feelings and emotions, and how they can influence the tone of a drawing.
She shows how a simple curve in a facial expression or eye movement of a cat she’s drawing can define a feeling – sneaky, confident, scared, confused, etc.
The book is filled with assortments of unique cat mashups, including dragon cats, unicorn cats, sushi cats, cactus cats and even pasta cats.
On the pasta cat mashup page there’s a cat couple wearing bow tie-shaped pasta, also known as farfalle. Another on the same page shows a “shy” cat peeking through an opening of a large seashell pasta (conchiglioni.)
Mayo, a veteran illustrator, was asked how she has been able to keep discovering new subjects for her drawing books. Her reply, in an email, triggered a brief explanation about her own creative process.
“I think you can’t find ideas, you let them come to you,” Mayo said. “My light bulb moment always occurs when I draw by hand and without any real purpose other than to see what happens. My latest book (“101 Super Cute Cat Things to Draw”) is no exception.”
The idea for the book came to her when she was drawing lots of sushi cats.
“Then it all snowballed from there,” she added.
Another factor – daydreaming – may come into play in her creative process. A biographical sketch of Mayo at the back of the book says she is “passionately committed to daydreaming in the fantasy art world where cats and mysterious creatures live.”
How does she harness daydreaming in being creative?
She replied in the email, “I like to daydream and then escape to the wonderland where mysterious creatures live. It usually happens when I sketch with pencils. I just let my thoughts, ideas, magical creatures and lots of plump animals come to me. It’s my favorite part of the creative process.”
Mayo encourages people to daydream while pushing their pencils. “You never know what will come out in the end,” she added.
Asked if she has any more cat-related drawing books up her sleeve, Mayo said no, not at the moment but “let’s see if the cat muse comes to me again!”
Mayo is a London-based illustrator with 18 books to her credit, including the best-selling series “A Million Creatures to Color.”
She enjoys creating whimsical, quirky and cute illustrations and she believes it is important to invite people to her fantasy art world where imagination runs wild.
Her home is where her creative juices flow.
“It’s a very relaxing environment and I can be very concentrate in drawing my books,” she said.