Tag Archives: Animals in Art

This Is Not About Cats

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Today my route to work was dotted with bright yellow springiness. The daffodils have arrived! So, when I got home, I was inspired to make a drawing in honor of the official harbinger of spring here in the North.

Pen and ink drawing of daffodils.

I don’t usually draw flora, but I was happy to see these in my neighborhood.

Spring Cats by EriN Kotosaka

Postcard from Japan!

As I was inking in the values, I noticed the postcard I had received from the awesome Marc-Andre of Katzenworld lying on the table. And….I noticed….DAFFODILS! The artist is EriN Kotosaka. I was unfamiliar with her work until I got Marc’s card. I love her drawings of cats, they’re so whimsical and mischievous. Alas, I digress because I was not going to write about cats.

I hope it’s spring where you are, and that you find beauty in the ordinary, and wonder in the small connections that make life interesting.

 

Art Visits Katz

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When you get a chance, prowl on by the awesome and comprehensive Katzenworld site to see my occasional guest entry, the Friday Art Cat, where you’ll find some arty cats drawn or painted by me!

Black cat and tuxedo cat

This is a fan painting I made of Nubia and Oliver, just two of the felines you’ll find in the World of Cats that is Katzenworld.

Cats Always Land on Their Feet

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A friend and I were talking about the process of art making, and how much practice is needed to create art –and especially to get a piece that meets one’s artistic expectations. We were also discussing how a desire for perfection can sometimes keep you from creating at all. That’s one of the reasons I like to participate in drawing challenges like Drawlloween— and make it public– it gives me a little extra kick to commit to my work. Whether I like the results or not, the work must commence.

For today’s prompt, Circus Sunday, I dug out an old painting that I had abandoned a few years ago because I just didn’t like how it was turning out. Inspired by the conversation with my friend, and hoping the circus image would be work for Drawlloween, I tackled the old painting, adding more darks and color, not worrying about the previous expectations I’d had for the piece.

It didn’t take me very long to give the flat image a little more life. There are still things I would do differently, but it’s not sitting neglected in a drawer. And, while the image isn’t eerie, or even Halloween-y, I figure there’s nothing more scary than confronting your creative demons, so here is my Circus Sunday.

Circus cat on a trapeze.

Circus Cat

Safe Passage

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I had to do some research into swamps to relate to today’s prompt for DrawlloweenSwamp Meet. 

Why are swamps scary? Well, they are wet, muddy, and full of mosquitos. There is rarely a clear path through, and often that path is obscured by overgrown, poky brush. Fog rolls in thickly, further complicating navigation. Predators lurk, and occasionally, corpses float to the surface, to be discovered by the unwary. In folklore, spirits inhabit the spaces between trees and haunt the lonely darkness.

I imagine that a cat would seek the most practical way through a swamp, should passage be necessary. So, I drew this clever traveler.

Cat hitches a ride on an alligator.

Drawlloween with Cats

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Cat Graveyard Illustration

Day 1: Return from the Dead

The real story is what happens inside the haunted house. That’s one of the reasons I’m participating in Drawlloween 2015, a month-long list of prompts and postings based on Halloween themes. I love Halloween–not so much the gore-ridden, chainsaw type of Halloween, but costumes, candy, and fun “scary” stuff. Plus, I’ve never been able to draw anything even vaguely terrifying.

Do Not Feed After Midnight

Day 2: Better Homes and Goblins
I interpreted this one more like Gremlins… but Goblins…Gremlins…not much difference!

I’m enamored with narrative, so I decided that I would include cats in order to push the story element of the illustrations. By pairing my silly cats with the daily prompts, I’m forced to think of imagery I might never have considered.

Cat lurking after a spider.

Day 3: Spider Day
This is possibly the scariest thing I’ve ever drawn.

I’ve set the parameter of working small. I trace a credit-card onto a page in my sketchbook and plan the sketch. The drawing is finalized using watercolor and pen, my preferred media for illustrating.

Cat and Mouse

Look out, Vera! I based this image on a photo I took of my cat Vera at the bottom of our hallway stairs and imagined what would happen if her toy mouse came to life.
Day 4: Mansions and Manors

I’ll be sharing my Drawlloween 2015 entries for the rest of the month. I hope I can keep up!

Arty Cats

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Arty Cats

I collect cats. There are only three that already saturate the available space in my home, so I enjoy other people’s cats whenever I can. My obsession doesn’t stop there because I also amass images of cats I see in art museums and galleries. I am always on the lookout for the shadowy places an artist might have hidden a cat in a Renaissance painting, or featured a cat in a Pop Art portrait. I even wrote a brief post about Cats in Art a few years ago.

Sleeping Cat, Ruskin Spear

Sleeping Cat  Ruskin Spear was a British painter during the 1900’s. In addition to his portraits of dignitaries and such, he painted charming cats, as well.

My most populated collection of cats resides on Pinterest in Arty Cats. This is where I store and share images of cats I’ve seen that I really like. In my little online cat art gallery I’ve included master painters like Ruskin Spear and this sweet, sleeping cat, and Theophile Steinlein, who painted sassy French cats of the Moulin Rouge era.

Cats 1920 Steinlein

Cats 1910 by the grandfather of all cat painters, Theophile Alexandre Steinlein.

Some living artists whose work I admire include Midori Yamada, who creates quiet cat worlds with simple compositions . But, I also like the folk-style art of Ryan Conners of Kilkenny Cat Art in which she portrays cat friends who take off on adventures in their Volkswagens.

All of this cat art  is interesting to me, not only because I love cats, but also because I make pictures of cats. I like to see what other people are doing, and how I fit into the visual conversation. What is instructive to me, at the very core, is that people make extraordinary art about everyday things, in this case, cats. It is in the portrayal of the ordinary that elevates it to art as it becomes imbued with the perspective of its creator. Whether it makes us contemplate, or relate, or smile, or even dislike, then the art is successful.

As far our feline friends, it’s clear that cats inspire artists, whether as portraiture or symbol. The next time you’re in an art museum, I challenge you to do your own cat count to see how many works of art include a kitty. And, if you’re interested, you can see the varied cat portrayals I’ve saved on my Arty Cats Pinterest board. You can even start your own cat collection. If you can’t have more actual cats, then why not horde some virtual cats for your own enjoyment?

You Need A(nother) Kitty

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June is Adopt-A-Cat Month here in the United States. A brilliant and worthy celebration! So, why have I waited so long to celebrate? Lack of direction? Indifference? Too busy? NO! Just wasn’t sure how to properly honor such an awesome event…so, I finally made a work of art to show my support.

According to the ASPCA

“Of the 3.4 million cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.”

I read that statement multiple times… MILLIONS of cats?! more are euthanized than adopted! only 5% returned to owners? Isn’t anybody looking?! We (as an internet culture especially) worship cats on a scale that the Egyptians couldn’t even imagine. And Egyptians took their cats very seriously. Did you know that, “because of widespread cat smuggling in ancient Egypt, the exportation of cats was a crime punishable by death?” Animal Planet  (I got this factoid and others here at Animal Planet.)

Adopting a new kitty, or adding some more to your collection, is the obvious way to celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month, but if you simply can’t for practical reasons, then there are other ways to help.

  • Volunteer at your local shelter as a cat caretaker, helping in the socialization (this means petting and playing!), care, and well-being of cats until they are adopted.
  • Donate your dollars to cat rescue sites in your area. Many rescue agencies are run by individuals or small groups who personally assume the monetary burden of rescue. During the summer months, they are often saturated with kittens and need additional donations of food, old towels, carriers, cat toys, and cat litter.
  • Some areas sponsor trap, neuter, and release programs to help moderate and maintain feral cat colonies. Before I moved to Michigan, I was the Sunday night feeder for feral cats who lived in parking lots at nearby businesses. I supplied the food, and my husband and I would drive around just after dark every Sunday and leave food for groups of spayed/neutered colonies. Sometimes we would find new cats, or new kittens, which would then get trapped, neutered, and released back into the colony. Captured kittens were often adopted to good families!

While June is the official Adopt-A-Cat month, I think that every month should be Adopt-A-Cat month! I love cats and will advocate for happy, healthy, well cared-for cats with glee and passion. We all need a(nother) kitty!

Adopt-A-Cat

Fabric Collage: cold emersion dyed fabric, with screen, digital, and relief printing. Carol Parker Mittal

This is all your fault…

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1000 Likes with Cats

My muses, clockwise from top left: Cleo (2009), Bean, Garfield (2014), Vera, Lucy, and Emily (2014)

You may notice a few changes at Art Is Not For Sissies, like a new header and formatting, and a little more headline action for Attack Cat Studio. When I reached the “1000 Likes” milepost this week, I decided the best way to say THANK YOU!! to my readers was to update my look. You know, make it more spiffy, add some organization, tell you a little bit about myself…some important details for someone who has reached ONE THOUSAND likes. It is my own fault that it took me four years of erratic blogging to get here, and, frankly, compared to some bloggers, 1000 likes is something they do every day. But, hey, the tally means a lot to me, and because of you, here we are at this moment of transformation. Cheers, friends!

In a Row on Caturday

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I mean a row where things are lined up in a queue, as opposed to the kind of row one does to propel a boat, or a row that means a quarrel or dispute. I doubled-rowed here, where I illustrate a sequence of events in a row, as well as present the image of Miss Bean who appears in rows on a mesh screen which was used to print on fabric that became the cover of a book. I call this one “Green Bean.”

Cat with black and white camera-ready art of same.

Miss Bean, a fetching muse, posing prior to her visage being translated for the artwork.

Thermofax screen with cats.

Mesh screen used to print Miss Bean image onto fabric.

Cat fabric and handmade book.

Raw screen printed fabric on the left. The final book after the cloth was dyed on the right.

15 Minutes of Fame on Caturday

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I’m doing some printmaking featuring Lucy as the subject. Thoroughly unimpressed that she is the art star of this Caturday, Lucy snoozed on the cat tree through all phases of the process. The base paper is Italian handmade cotton rag stained with Windsor and Newton Ink. Additional layers include sewn-on collage elements, acrylic paint, and textile screen printing ink.  Vera supervised the work, complaining the whole time about the mess, and at the injustice being left out.

Printmaking process with cat

In the cat tree, Lucy snores loudly as I toil away to create her 15 minutes of fame.

Cat in Art Studio

Vera pouts about not being the famous cat.