Merlin cat 21st birthday
Cats,  Contests & Giveaways,  Feline Fine Art

Merlin’s 21st Birthday Week, Interview With One Drawing Daily Artist and Pet Portrait Giveaway

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This is a revised copy of a lost post. Some images and comments are missing. Thank-you to everyone who entered the contest and for your birthday wishes.

Merlin cat 21st birthday

We have an extra special Mondays With Merlin today. It must be the full moon or something because I’m feeling positively kittenish. Even my garden strolls turned frisky. We’re celebrating all week since my big 21st birthday is fast approaching. Friday, Oct. 2nd to be precise. And I need to be precise because I’m conducting my first interview with Thomas Dalsgaard Clausen, an artist and architecture student. He’s a young fellow from Denmark with a goal of drawing something new every day for a year. Well, he did it, and he’s drawn me three times. Scroll down to see my birthday portrait. The first time, when Layla blogged about him, he made this ink drawing.

cat art quote- Thomas Dalgaard Clausen

I added the quote and frame. Thomas was so shy, he didn’t sign his work and only assigned a number to the free drawings. Since then, Layla has been encouraging him as an artist to sign his name and get out there to promote his work, join Instagram etc. I love this sketch of me from Instagram @onedrawingdaily which shows the scale of his notebook drawings via the artist’s tools.




Merlin cat drawing instagram





His most popular drawings are of cats and dogs. No surprise there. He’s improved his skills (practice makes purrfect) and is doing more commissions. Check out his One Drawing Daily blog and his latest work at his new web portfolio TClausen but here’s a small sample. I was very curious to learn more about the artist who would had a small idea which snowballed into a big one. He’s very busy so if you’re thinking of getting an ideal, one-of-a-kind Christmas gift, please order no later than early December. His very reasonable prices will go up in the new year.




Merlin cat trio dandelion
This is the trio of photos Thomas worked from. Merlin in his younger and very blue-eyed days.


Interview With Thomas Dalsgaard Clausen

Merlin: You’re gaining a reputation for doing pet portraits. Did you always like animals or have pets?

Thomas: I grew up in the outskirts of a small down. It wasn’t in the countryside, but we had a large garden, which made it easier to have a lot of pets and animals as well. While growing up, we had dogs, a cat, two-three kinds of birds, a turtle, rabbits (I remember one in particular who was more savage than a tiger!) and lots of chickens. I had a pet-chicken who followed me everywhere I went in the garden which was pretty fun. All this came with the reality of caring for another living being, which is something that can be quite important for a child growing up in my mind. There were fun and great times, but then one morning we woke up to find the whole chicken coop killed by a fox (or other wild animal), one day the rabbit had to go.. And the dog got sick.. Sad, but important memories and life lessons for a kid (or an adult for that matter). Oh and then we had fish.. And on rainy days, my brother and I enjoyed collecting snails and making them race against each other (don’t worry no snail cruelty ;)) – In my mind all animals deserve respect and observing how snails navigate with their strange stilk-eyes can be just as important as caring for a horse. I have no pets at the moment.

Merlin: After drawing daily (over 600 drawings) for a year, what have you learned about yourself and about pet lovers?

Thomas: About myself: I think that the main lesson that I’ve learned from this – is quite obvious – if you stick with something, you’ll eventually get good at it. A year ago I felt rather complexed about my drawing skills. As an architecture student, you don’t have to make pretty drawings, but you have to be able to quickly express an idea or a concept and get it down on paper in the form of a sketch. I’ve always felt a little self-concious about this, and have always opted for doing things a little too complicated on the computer, while it could have been done much clearer and faster by hand. Most people can’t draw, and a lot of people seem to think that people who can, have some kind of talent, and that it’s due to this talent (that they’re born with) that they can draw. I thought that this was wrong when I started my “One Drawing Daily” challenge. Now, one year later, I’m even more sure! Rembrandt was talented – but everybody can learn to draw without being a Rembrandt. I invite everyone reading this to join me in doing something creative every day for the next 365 day.

And what have I learned about pet lovers? I’ve learned that pet lovers are amongst the most supportive, enthusiastic and positive people out there! The reactions I get when I do get for doing a sketch of someones pet, has really surprised me! Sometimes, when I just don’t “feel it” and when I’m not too happy about the sketch that I just did – I still get the warmest and happiest responses imaginable – and it’s not only the person who requested the drawing, but often enough it’s a whole community either on blogs or on social networks who join in cheering. This really really motivating. Sometimes when I’ve had a long list of cats and dogs to draw, I’ve actually felt pretty bad at not being able to draw everybody’s pet. Each one is unique and special to their family, so that makes me want to deliver!

Merlin: I agree about creativity and cats are good muses! The pet loving community is amazing. You add journal type notes about the drawings which have become a diary of sort. Do you want to do more writing.

Thomas: I’ve always enjoyed writing, but to me, writing is not the “end product” it’s much more like a part of the process or a step in the journey in arriving at something (well you never really arrive anywhere, do you? ;)). I think that writing can be a help to force yourself to reflect upon something. Keeping a blog is very helpful like that. Sometimes, if I’m lazy or tired, I just post the drawing with minimal text, but ideally, I force myself to put down some words about what I just did. Making something spontaneously is great, but it’s when you step back and think about what you just did, that you really learn something.

Merlin: I have to ask: What have you learned about drawing cats?

Thomas: I have gotten much better at drawing fur, eyes, noses.. And the odd tooth and tongue! And all of this actually applies to all kinds of drawing. It all comes down to light, shade, texture and color-tonation. In the last year of drawing every day, I’ve had various periods of drawing a lot of portraits, drawing hands all the time, drawing in pencil all the time or making watercolors all the time, and what I’ve found is, that whenever I take a pause from that particular thing I’m currently obsessed about (for this example it’s cats!) – I tend to have gotten better in areas that I haven’t even thought about for a long time! So I guess what I’ve learned from drawing a lot of cats, is to draw people ! I draw them in 4″x6″ moleskine sketchbooks (I have 10 of them filled on a shelf!)

Merlin: Drawing from life is different from a photograph; how is your process different? Which do you enjoy more?

Thomas: Every art teacher in the world will tell you to draw from real life. Do figure drawing, do landscape painting out there in the field, draw your self-portrait in front of the bathroom mirror.. And so on. And the idea is, that this forces you to really look at what you’re drawing. The impressionists painted “plein air” and they worked fast, because nothing is permanent in the real world – the sun will set, and the shadows grow longer, the wind will create little ripples in the water.. That sleeping guy in the subway will get up and leave.. Or change his position and start drooling against the window! Drawing from life is hard! And that’s why it’s important to do! And when something is hard it forces you to think differently, and that creates great art.. All this being said. I mostly work from photos. It’s way more convenient, I’m more comfortable in front of my PC with a cup of coffee than out there in the rain.. And when it comes to cats.. They often lie around sleeping, but if you start drawing them, they’ll probably just jump up and start grooming themselves on your sketchbook ?

Merlin: Yes, most cats will not pose for long, sometimes not even for a photo. Which medium and what subject is your favorite?

Thomas: The ballpoint pen was quite a discovery for me! It’s funny actually, because that was the drawing tool that I was sure I’d never love in the beginning. You can’t erase it, and you can only use the black of the ink and the white of the paper. Nothing in between! But somehow I’ve fallen in love with it! For my commissions, I often add some watercolor to my ballpoint pen sketches, and I think that the two work great together. Watercolor alone is a whole science – Watercolor paintings are among the most beautiful in my opinion, but learning to master watercolor is really hard! So in my drawings, the pen play the “first violin” while the watercolor is an optional glazing on the cake.. (Forgive me the metaphors!) As for subjects – I don’t think that I have a favorite! But I like animals and people more than “dead” things. I’m not sure why, but there’s something almost meditative about being able to look into the eyes as the drawing is coming along. It’s almost like communication!

Merlin: I agree the water color adds a certain je ne sais quoi like in your lovely portrait of me.

Merlin cat art-one drawing daily


Merlin: What have you learned from self-portraits?

Thomas: I have learned that self-portraits are hard! REALLY hard! At a certain point, I had made quite a bit of progress with my portraits, but whenever I try to draw myself, It looks HORRIBLE! I swear, I don’t look like that in reality! But there’s something strange about the way we see ourselves. I always wondered why I look different in the mirror than I do on photos. I think there might be a lot of psychology in there!

Merlin: I can imagine. I’m pretty good at selfies though but tell me why is it Americans are buying your portraits and not Danes?

Thomas: I honestly don’t know! The obvious answer would be that Americans are closer to their pets than Danes are, but I’m actually not sure about that. In Denmark people get really close to their pets too, but perhaps it’s in another way? My mother has a small and very popular pet-sitting business. While pets play a big part in many Danes’ livess, you still don’t see a lot of solely pet-related businesses and establishments i.e. pet hotels, pet cemeteries or cat cafes.

Merlin: Now that you’ve met your goal, what’s next for your art, school, career, life?

Thomas: Good question! The world is huge and full of opportunities. I actually have no idea where life might take me, and I feel quite excited about that! I’d love to do more art and go see the world. I’m sure something will present itself.

Merlin: Oh, to be young again. The world is your oyster. Did you finish your thesis and what is on?

Thomas: Woops, back to reality. No – still not finished. I’ve got until November. I’m an architecture student, so the “thesis” is mostly an architecture project. I’m doing a house with 4 apartments and a “guitar builders workshop” in the historic part of town. Hope to mix some freehand drawings in there in the process. No cats though! ? My plans after architecture school is to find a job in architecture – they’re not easy to come by these days though, so I might have a lot of time for drawing in the following months. I hope that I can get to scale up my commissions as well as get to experiment with different subjects in art, but I don’t have any concrete or “set in stone” plans right now.

Thank-you, Thomas. Now dear readers, go follow and visit our artist friend TClausen Be sure to stop by here on Thursday and Friday for treats, surprises and another giveaway.

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84 thoughts on “Merlin’s 21st Birthday Week, Interview With One Drawing Daily Artist and Pet Portrait Giveaway”

  1. Merlin!!!! It was only yesterday we were thinking October is far away and now it’s your birthday week. We are so very proud of you and I know Peanut is high pawing you from heaven. You are a special cat and your portrait is the essence of simplicity and grace. How could we not want to win one like it.

    Happy Birthday dearest friend.


  2. Heather says:

    Happy Birthday week to Merlin!!! Would love to win some art of my kitty.

    Best wishes from Heather and many many purrs to Merlin from Ellie Mae O’Cat

  3. Velcro, Inky, Toots and Vicky says:

    Happy Birthday Week Merlin!
    Mom would love pictures of all of us but her first choice would be me, Velcro.

  4. I absolutely love Thomas’ work. It’s so beautiful and uses my very favorite mediums. I love that there’s no eraser and the negative space is every bit as important as the ink. Thomas, you truly have a gift. Someday we’d love to have a drawing of Katie to go along with Waffles.
    : )

  5. Merlin, I love all the sketches of you especially the latest one for your birthday. I am glad you are enjoying your birthday week. I would love to win so I could get a picture of my beautiful Lucy who went to the bridge 2 weeks ago.

  6. Wes has loved Thomas’ drawing from the very beginning! His drawing has improved incredibly and he has done such a wonderful job of yous Merlin!
    Mes not too sure how many times this week this old meezer girl can stop by so mes singing yous the song today!
    *•.¸¸♪♫•Happy Birthday to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫•¸¸.•*
    ¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫•
    ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday Dearest Merlin!!!!! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫•
    ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday to you! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫•
    Extra Special kisses for yous!
    Your Nellie Bellie

  7. Joanne says:

    I found ‘one drawing daily’ quite by chance and now follow him faithfully. The Merlin birthday picture is wonderful!

  8. Fun interview! We learned a lot about Thomas that we didn’t know from following his blog. Thomas is so talented, and we admire the work he has done with his drawings over the past year to hone his craft. Such dedication! If we won, Newton would like to be the subject of some artwork, since he’s our spokescat.

  9. That is a great interview Merlin, very interesting. Thomas’ portrait of you is beautiful. He does great drawings. He has already done two of me which I love, so don’t enter me in the draw. I see you have both my drawings in your collage.

  10. Thank you for sharing this talent with us… Thomas has captured the feline essence with a simple beauty. With my gang of seven, it’s hard to chose, but I think I might go with Rolz, as he has such a regal elegance about him. But then again, I actually do have a rare photo of me with all seven of my kitties… that sure would be amazing to win a drawing off!!

    And happy early birthday to Merlin! Love you buddy!

  11. Raine says:

    Happy Birthday Merain from all if us and mom! Wonderful interview and such great portraits. It would be a hard choice to pick, but mom would love to have a portrait of our sister Lillia done. (May be a duplicate comment -sorry )

  12. Connie Marie says:

    Oh, what a wonderful portrait, for a very handsome BIRTHDAY BOY!!
    I’d really would love to have one of my boy Felix. He’s my photo on Google+, it doesn’t do justice to his bright green eyes!
    The colored photo of the block of mini pets, the black cat could be my boy Boo Boo, amazing

  13. Raine says:

    Happy Birthday Merain from all if us and mom! Wonderful interview and such great portraits. It would be a hard choice to pick, but mom would love to have a portrait of our sister Lillia done.

  14. Heather Carpenter says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY WEEK, MERLIN!! I hope you get lots of toys and treats! I think your portraits show the world just how handsome you are!
    I would love to have a portrait of my one of cats, Georgiana or Bella.

  15. Tzipora says:

    I would love to have a portrait done of my crazy, silly, lovable Tzeitel kitty. I’ve never met a more loyal of quirky cat.

  16. Colleen long says:

    Hi, thanks for the giveaway. I would get my cat, Killa. I found hi, on the street in Philadelphia about two years ago and he is the most handsome kitty I’ve ever seen.

  17. Pawsum innerview. Mr. Thomas did a pen drawin’ of me and it was amazin’. We just luvved it. Now dat sis Lexi be gettin’ older and sicker we wuld luv to win a portwait so she can be memorialized furever.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  18. What a terrific interview. Oh we’d love to have a portrait of one of us done that would be fabulous. And Merlin we are glad you are celebrating ALL week. WE adore the portrait done of you, it’s spectacular.

  19. Happy birthday week, Merlin! Those are such beautiful portraits. Love drawings of Mr. Thomas Dalsgaard Clause..he is such a talented artist! Your birthday portrait is fantastic!

  20. Lovely portraits and great interview. I would love a portrait of my son’s cat Dawn. It would make an awesome graduation gift for him; he’s hoping to graduate in January with two Associates Degrees and transfer to Rutgers to major in astrophysics and aeronautical engineering.

  21. Cleopawtra (Becca Cook) says:

    I love this artists work. I could look through all of his work time and again. If I won I’d get a portrait of my old man 16 year old Din. Love of our lives.

  22. I saw the comment response about doing all 8 cats. There are 8 of us so we weren’t even going to enter since we’d have to fight over who gets a portrait. We were thinking Buddy. But we would love to have a painting of the remaining Funny Farmers. He does great portraits.

    It’s encouraging to see Merlin is approaching 21 with a spring in his step.

  23. I’ve been following Thomas for months now, and I love his drawings and paintings! Very nice to meet you, Merlin…so handsome! My all-black cat Chuck is also very handsome; a drawing of him would mean the world to us.

  24. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    Merlin…dood…thiz interview rocked; we troo lee N joyed reeding it

    Thomas; we want two wish ewe de veree veree best in yur architecture job search, we hope ewe get de job ewe want~~~~~ may bee even sum day ewe could design cat and ore dogs houzez ~~~~ how kewl wood THAT be !!

    We haz seen de werk ewe haz done for R friendz & itz AWESUM…we hope ewe get manee commissions az yur watercolorz and yur ink drawings R veree…. veree….veree good !!!


  25. Lovely interview and Thomas is very talented he did a most wonderful Kangaroo for me 21 stellar is that..and i am glad you are feeling kittenish my kitties are feeling more werekitty with this moon..I would be so happy to have juts a smidge of artistic paint or draw what is see..always has fascinated grandpa used to sketch his police horses her rode as an officer..and was quite clearly skipped me in the genes..if i was chosen i think i would like my Forrest sketched..he is a big old dog..white mask now and i think he would look so handsome have a super day Merlin,Layla and of course Thomas..i am off to sleep through the moon crazies here ! hugs Fozziemum xx

  26. Kathryn says:

    Wow, Cheddar (orange marmalade boy, big, fluffy and pretty) and Mao (dignified Tux) love this post. And so do I! You’re so talented, Thomas. So very talented.

    I’m going to have to start drawing every day! People have always told me I’m pretty good, and I said, ”No, I’m not, actually. Just my mother and daughter are.” But you’re right about practice. Also seeing. Seeing the lines and the relationship between lines helps.

    Thanks so much for your post and talent, Thomas! (Love Copenhagen, the one day there I spent from Malmo to get to London to get back to Montreal. And real elephant beer is awesome.)


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