Make a Mid-Century Modern Cat Painting (Easy Guide)

Have you seen the adorable mid-century modern cat paintings out there? If you’re looking for a custom version, you can paint your own with a few basic shapes and retro details.

Follow this easy guide to create a mid-century style painting modeled after your own fur babies (or any cats of your imagination). I’ll walk you through the steps.

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DIY Mod Kitty Painting


Sketch the Basics

Sketching out a simple mid-century cat painting

First, use a pencil to sketch your plan on a piece of paper. The basic elements of this painting are mod cats and starbursts. Plan how many cats you will have and where you want your biggest starbursts.

Draw the body of each cat like a bowling pin. To add mid-century flair, have the cat bodies overlap with a belly between them.

Shape the cat heads like pointy footballs. Add simple rectangular collars just below each head, with little triangle ears on top of each head. Give each tail a nice “S” curve and make sure they get slimmer toward the end.

Paint the Base Color

Use one of your larger paintbrushes to cover your canvas with a base layer of paint. Use little X motions, crisscrossing around the canvas to give the background some texture.

You can use a pop of color for your background, like a pretty turquoise or orange. I used Waynesboro Taupe paint left over from my bathroom makeover. It’s a slightly darker shade of taupe than the walls in my office where this painting will go.

Canvas ready for painting

For the record, I loved this old abstract IKEA painting, but it just didn’t fit anywhere in my house. Rather than give it away, I decided to reuse the canvas and paint over it. Let’s have a brief moment of silence for the painting that lived with me all through my 20s.

Once you cover your canvas in the base paint layer all the way around the edges, let it dry completely.

Base color painted on canvas

Fill in the Mod Cat Bodies

Now sketch your cats onto your canvas with a pencil, copying your paper sketch. Pick a main color for each cat’s body. It looks nice when you paint each mod cat in a different color.

Paint each cat’s body, tail, head and ears, leaving just the belly unpainted. I used acrylic paint. Try to cover the pencil marks by painting slightly over them, or just erase them after the paint dries.

Painting cat bodies on mid-century modern cat painting

When the bodies are dry, fill in the belly area. My cat Charlie is black and white, and my cat Jane is gray and white, so I gave them a shared white belly. A lot of mid-century modern cat paintings use more surreal colors, like a red cat next to a blue cat with a shared purple belly.

Related: See the best mid-century modern cat art available today

Add Cat Eyes and Details

Using a smaller brush, paint little white pointy footballs as the cat eyes. After the eyes are dry, paint perpendicular black pointy footballs as the pupils.

Mid-mod cat eyes and face details on painting

Paint simple rectangles at the top of each cat’s neck as the collar. Since my paint colors were so neutral, I went with an orange pop of color for the collars.

The beauty of mid mod style is its simplicity. It’s best to avoid a lot of details for a painting like this. That’s why I decided to skip the nose and whiskers. Less is more with this painting, and it means fewer chances to mess up.

Finish With Starbursts

When you are happy with how your atomic kitties look, you can start adding the starbursts. Paint two or three bigger starbursts by creating asterisks with different lengths and angles. I did two with eight prongs and one with six prongs to mix it up.

Simple starbursts on mid-century modern painting

Fill in the rest of the canvas with a few little star dots. Less is more here, too.

Let that dry, and hang it in a place where you can enjoy it. I keep mine by my desk, so I can be reminded of my fur babies all day.

My DIY Cat Painting

Atomic kitty mid-century modern painting

Not a bad likeness, right? Jane and Charlie both have the classic blank stare of the mod cat. Or maybe theirs is more of a death stare.

Find more cat decor ideas:

The easy way to make your own mid-century cat painting
How to make a cat painting for your retro home

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