From the archives—Señor Don Gato

Here’s a book I did a while ago—Señor Don Gato. Due to a copyright dispute, it’s no longer in print.  This project was a turning-point in my style.  I closely studied the work of Diego Velasquez: his palette, composition and lighting.  By limiting my range of color and paying attention to how a subject is lighted, my illustrations became less cartoony and more painterly.

Here’s a sketch.  Don Gato receives a letter from his lady-love and reads it on a high red roof:


And the final painting:

This painting below was never part of the book. I did it to get a feel for Velasquez’ painting technique.

Here is the portrait by Velasquez that inspired my painting of el Don.


If you’d like a copy of Señor Don Gato, shoot me an e-mail at  I have a small stash of mint-condition copies and I’ll be happy to autograph them for you.  I’m charging $40 per copy.  Half of that will go to the Venango County Humane Society.  I promise to do some kind of big cardboard check photo op so you know I didn’t keep all the cash for myself.  The offer’s good til I run out of books.

18 responses to “From the archives—Señor Don Gato

  1. Beautiful! How long does something like this take? Is it something you labor over or does it come pretty quick?


    • You mean the study I did? The painting was about 12 x 18″ and took me a day, day-and-a-half. I blocked in the big areas of light and dark with burnt sienna, then added layers of color and fine-tuned the details. It was fun to do.


  2. Yep, the study. I was just curious. It looks like a lot of fun, I miss working in actual paint.


  3. Pingback: Funeral for el Señor « John Manders' Blog

  4. I learned this song in as a child in gramar school and never forget and then I saw your book when it was first published. I’m currently Children’s Librarian from NYC and would love to purchase one of you Senor Don Gato Books if there are any left.




  5. I am an Elementary Music Teacher in upstate NY, and this book is just the thing I was looking for! My 3rd grade students would love to see this. Please contact me!

    Music and Art is Life!



  6. Jensen Wheeler Wolfe

    Do you have any copies left of Senor Don Gato?
    My 5 year old daughter heard the book recently and LOVED it.



  7. Mr. Manders- I am a huge fan of that sweet little kitty, Don Gato and terribly sad that it is no longer in print! I teach elementary music and your book is on the “list” of favorite music class memories for so many children. Thank you for your beautiful work! Last week our Arts department did an all-school special program and my ensemble of 2nd and 3rd grade children performed a choral arrangement of it…all of their acting and movement was inspired from your gorgeous book. During rehearsals and after the program I had streams of students coming up to tell me about their fond memories of the book. It’s especially a hit around Valentine’s Day. Thank you!


  8. Do you still have copies available?


  9. Hi there! I was looking to purchase this for my music classroom. I loved the song growing up and want to bring the story and song to my elementary music kids. Do you still have copies available?


  10. Hi. I love this book. I teach 1st grade and would love to buy this book for my class.


  11. Elementary Music

    Mr. Manders, I am an elementary music teacher in Alberta, Canada. We sing this song and I have been looking for your book. We will be singing “Don Gato” at a music festival. Any chance you have any books left for purchase for your Canadian fans? collmacz@gypsd,ca


  12. Hi, Mr. Manders. I’ve been scouring the internet for this book! Do you have any more copies? I’m a music teacher, and my students love the story. Your illustrations are the most beautiful I’ve seen, and I would love to share it with my 800 students!


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