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“Sleepy Kitten” Critique

by on Apr.26, 2006, under Blog

This is an art critique I wrote for an introductory art class I took.

“Sleepy Kitten” is a black-and-white photograph by Patryck Mena, also known as drsmith. It was posted to the online gallery deviantART in August, 2005. (The work is viewable at http://www.deviantart.com/view/22174477/.)

The photograph has a black outline and white border, with photographer’s name in a white handwriting-style font in the lower-right corner. The website uses a neutral, gray, theme, which offsets the works it displays. The photograph shows a close-up of a sleeping kitten on some presumably soft surface, like a blanket. The kitten is leaning against a plush cow. Details other than the kitten and cow are blurry and out-of-focus.

The artist owns the kitten and has taken many photographs of it at various stages in life. The artist also takes a lot of macro photographs. He sometimes alters his photographs digitally for artistic purposes.

As a black-and-white photograph, Sleepy Kitten relies largely on value, shape, mass and texture. Color, of course, is missing, and the fact that the work is a photograph means that the use of lines is not as important as the use of contrasting values. The kitten and its blanket have similar values, but the kitten’s texture is different, enabling it to be distinguished from the background. The delineation is relatively soft, compared to the distinction between the kitten and the stuffed cow.

The kitten’s head is approximately centered in the frame, but it is leaning and turned to one side. The centering gives a sense of stillness and peace, but the tilt prevents the stillness from feeling artificial and posed.

The blurriness of the background emphasizes the kitten as a focal point. It also lends a very soft feeling to the piece. Most of the photograph is made up of grays, with only a few areas of pure white and even fewer of pure black. This enhances the photograph’s soft nature.

The choice of black and white for the photograph gives it a nostalgic air. Additionally, the photograph juxtaposes two elements we associate with childhood. There is the kitten, which is a child, and the stuffed cow. A sleeping kitten alone would not have provoked the depth of feeling in this photograph. Here, the kitten cuddles up to a stuffed cow, evoking childhood memories of cuddling up to a favorite stuffed toy or parent.

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