Between the place where there is the food dish, and the place of the litter box, exists a miraculous openness, The Magic Portal. It doesn’t require any thumbs to operate, and it allows free passing to those in need. In the best of a times, a cat may travel unhindered up and down the stairs. At it’s worst, it is used as a political tool in the power struggle for territory and domination.
The humans like it because they don’t have to continually open and close the door for a cat, or leave the door ajar. In addition, The Magic Portal is a great source of entertainment for the humans, as the cat politics do not go unnoticed.
A cats sits at the window by the cat shack ramp, contemplating the blowing snow. I was certain that if the pathway was clear, she might venture into the shelter to explore the wintry scene. I shoveled.
Back inside, I open the window, and a rush of cold whooshes in. I steel myself for the chilly air entering my kitchen. A cat sits and thinks, declines the offer, and waits for spring.
Hardly anyone I know ever saw this painting. I created, Zeno, for donation to a local art center for a fundraising event, the kind where local artists hand over a piece, then, during an invited members-only reception, the artworks sell to the center’s patrons.
I was excited to have a piece in this show. Being new to the area, I saw it as an opportunity to have a lot of people see my work. On the night of the occasion, my then-boyfriend and I arrived at the reception early but I couldn’t find the painting anywhere! I quickly discovered that Zeno was one of the first pieces that sold that night. I never saw it hanging in the gallery, though I did locate the orphaned label, and the empty space on the wall. I never even signed the front of the work.
We strolled through the galleries, looking at all of the art. Despite the swanky surroundings and champagne, some of my enthusiasm for the event had waned. Plus, the food options for vegetarians were next to nothing. We left the party early. While I was excited that my piece sold, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see it in the gallery– nor did anyone else– because it disappeared so quickly.
That art center stopped hosting fundraising events in the same way the year after, so unknown artists like me were no longer invited to participate. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have sold my work for a good cause, but I still wish I’d kept this painting and donated a different piece.
As it turns out, this night lives as one of my favorite date nights ever. I recall many details, including what I wore (I went shopping for an entirely new outfit,) who we ran into (people from work who did not know we were dating,) the souvenir glasses stamped with blue stars, (still have one of them,) and the lovely desserts we found after we left the reception (at a place to which we returned frequently.) As luck would have it, the then-boyfriend became my husband. Things don’t always turn out as planned, sometimes they turn out better.
When I work on illustrations of cats, I use a reference because I’ve never been an artist who remembers the details of an object from my imagination. A lot of times, I can work out the surroundings, or take a quick look at something, say, a table, and draw it. But, for the main subject, kitty!, I usually work from a photo. I like photos not so much because I want to capture every whisker, but more because there’s usually the placement or angle of a pose that I want to capture.
For my holiday series, I first come up with the idea for the composition. Then, I search through my hundreds (literally) of cat photos for the poses that I think will best fit my idea. On the rare occasion I don’t find what I am looking for, I might go in search of a willing model, but it’s hard to get a cat to pose! That’s why I take pictures frequently to use for reference later. That way, I almost always have the exact look I want.
In the beginning, I block out the composition in pencil, finally adding the details with watercolor, and sometimes adding in pen for contrast and definition.
I have quite a collection of Christmas Cats at this point. So, I thought I would have some of them printed on greeting cards. I use a local printer who works with me to accurately represent the original color when translated to the digital reproduction. I’m so happy with how they turned out, that I decided to offer them for the first time in my Etsy shop and at the local holiday markets!
My vet recommended Vera for a cleaning because her gums had become inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. Cats can have similar dental issues to people that can impact overall health and well-being, so, we loaded a grumpy Miss Vera into the carrier and took her to the kitty dentist!
The procedure requires anesthetic so the teeth can be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. This also allows the vet to do any extractions or other procedures while the cat is safely asleep. The medical staff makes a complete record of the cat’s mouth, and, just like the familiar work-up from a human dentist, a digital x-ray record shows all of the teeth, and allows the vet to analyze any hidden complications. For example, Vera has a tooth that is showing evidence of resorption, but is not a problem at this time.
Miss Vera came out of the anesthesia with no issues. She now has sparkly clean teeth, and her gums have returned to a healthy state. Another bonus is that Vera no longer offends her other cat friends with bad breath!
Directly after Drawlloween, I turned all of my attention to production for the Holiday Art Market where I sold my handmade paper goods. Namely, journals and sketchbooks that I bind by hand, with covers of original design. In preparation for the show, I completed 90 books and orbs in just fourteen days! I’ve been blogging about my progress and describe one bookmaking process here, give an update here, and then discuss my paper orbs in a later post.
I had a successful showing this weekend and visitors to the market seemed to really like my work. Since this was the first full-on beta test for Attack Cat Studio, I feel pretty good about the results. It was especially interesting to watch people interact with the displays. For example, some of the book stands are a little tippy. But, the flow of traffic through my booth seemed to work well. I also collected a few contacts who are interested in taking a bookmaking class with me in the winter.
Now, I prepare for another show, this one in December, at the Merry Maker’s Marketplace. I have new images to print for book covers, larger sketchbooks to create, and lots of pocket-sized journals to replace. If you’re interested in seeing some more of my work, you can check meow-t on Etsy.
Creative, inquisitive, and masters of the spaces they inhabit, cats have no qualms about making themselves comfortable. By way of example, I illustrate the particular behaviors my cats exhibited this week.
We had a few friends over for Halloween. It was late, so I thought I would wait until the morning to complete the clean up. This is what Lucy thought about my leaving the drink station up overnight.
Bean has a penchant for imposing horizontal-ness as a way to say, “I will control you.” Here, she flops at the foot of the stair (a trick she learned from Lucy,) in an attempt to get someone to play with her. And, more adorably, Miss Bean takes a break to lay atop Neil who was just trying to do some sit-ups.
I’ve been working feverishly in my studio to make books for an upcoming art show. Interested in my activity, Lucy surveys the situation, then attacks my scissors, knocking the offending implement to the floor.
Tuesday, I was looking around the house for Vera, only to find her rolling in the laundry with a stinky dish rag. She has returned to the stinky dish rag for a couple of days, each time scruffing on and attacking her prey. I think it’s a sure sign that I need to do some laundry. On Wednesday, she exhibits complete disinterest in anything going with her humans.
Today, in an attempt to catch up from being totally distracted by Drawlloween (see this you don’t know what I’m talking about,) I sewed together 45, yes, f-o-r-t-y-f-i-v-e, books just waiting for covers. I have an art show the second weekend in November, and I’m a little behind on production as I was having too much fun drawing kitties the entire month of October. Aside from being tired from sitting for 15 hours, I did binge watch about 8 episodes of Grimm, season one. And, while I was flanked by cats both on the couch and in the studio, sadly, there are no felines in the photo of today’s efforts.