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a portrait of Maui

Thank you all so much for your messages of sympathy on my memorial post for Maui – it’s meant so much to me. It hasn’t been easy adjusting to the Maui-shaped hole in our lives, but our sweet pup Maggie is doing her best to keep us happily occupied! I don’t know how I’d have coped without her.

I’ve sold or donated most of Maui’s things, just keeping a couple of his favourite toys, but I wanted to have something special to remember him by. And, while I was preparing my memorial post by looking though 16 years of Maui photos (almost 2000 pics!), I spotted one random photo from 2013 that looked like it had the potential to become something more than a quick snap.

Maui was sitting in front of the TV (with the screen off):

source photo for portrait of Maui - setting the scene

As I got closer and continued to snap photos, he gazed up and out of the window, probably watching a bird outside:

source photo for portrait of Maui, pre-editing

The sunlight highlighted his beautiful eyes and whiskers, and the dark TV screen made for a dramatic background. I thought that, with a little cropping and editing, I could make this into a stunning portrait – a fitting tribute to my most elegant boy.

At first, I thought all I’d need to do would be to crop the photo around his head and then remove the bottom right of the picture, where the wall and clutter shows below the bottom of the TV screen. But, of course, the more I tweaked and adjusted, the more things I noticed that needed to be perfected.

I used my graphics tablet to create a complex system of layers and masks to remove all the background in a way that looked natural. It definitely wasn’t the way a pro would do something like this, but this is the first time I’ve tried to edit a portrait beyond removing the occasional blemish or stray hair, so I did a lot of experimenting and refining.

I ended up having to draw in and blend the edges around every single whisker by hand after I brightened and recoloured the photo, and then added another mask to tweak the colours further. It became more of an artistic process then I’d expected!

As I’d only started with a crop of a quick snap, my starting image wasn’t the highest quality, so that added some challenges, but finally I ended up with a portrait that I think captures Maui’s beauty in a truly eye-catching way. Here it is:

photographic portrait of my Maui cat, by June Gilbank

What do you think? Wasn’t he the most stunningly beautiful cat?

I sent my picture off to be printed on canvas, and waited…

And here’s the result!

canvas portrait of Maui on the wall

A little bit closer…

canvas portrait of Maui

I love it! Although it makes me feel a bit tearful to look at it right now, I know I’m going to appreciate my portrait of Maui for years to come.

I’m so pleased I happened to notice the potential in that original photo, and spent half a day turning it into this magical tribute to my handsome boy.


  1. Jen said

    What a beautiful picture of Maui.❤️

  2. Monica B said

    aww! such a sweet photo and memory! *hugs*

  3. Lindy said

    What a wonderful canvas of your beautiful Maui. Amazing photo.
    Love and virtual hugs, Lindy xxxx

  4. Ruth said

    Maui’s portrait is amazing June! You have created an awesome reminder of your beautiful boy, and he will continue to bring a smile to your faces for years to come. ❤️

  5. Nancy Faraday said

    You are truly an artist. The final canvas is stunning. I love your description of the process: it reminds us that art is as much (or more!) work as it is inspiration – and then of course there is the serendipity of finding the right original out of 2000 choices. Beautiful.

  6. Anna said

    Nothing like natural light to showcase their beauty. Wonderful picture!

  7. Sandy G. said

    June, it’s stunning. You have a multitude of talents. I so appreciate that you’ve chosen to share your life with so many people, including me. I hope your heart is healing. Much love, Sandy

  8. Sara said

    Absolutely beautiful portrait. Condolences on the loss of your handsome boy.

  9. Sandie said

    What a lovely way to memorialize your precious friend!

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