This adventurous kitty is the new mascot for a local public art walking tour for families and children. His nickname is T-CAT, short for Traverse City Art Trek. He will appear on the soon-to-be available map and brochure from the visitor’s center this summer!
The Traverse City Art Trek is a stroller-friendly walking tour that covers just a few city blocks and passes by shops and historic buildings, then crosses over the scenic Boardman River, and loops back to the waterfront. Participants will encounter works by local artists and learn a little bit about the city as well.
Follow me to find art around my city!
If you’re not familiar with Traverse City, we are a popular destination, making the Best of lists for beaches, natural beauty, wine, and livability, just to name a few!
It’s been fun working with this all-volunteer committee to make this a reality. It’s my first time doing illustration work for anyone other than myself, and I’m proud to contribute. If the TCAT has a successful launch, we will proceed with plans to expand the tour outside of the downtown area, and include bike paths and other locales in the city.
Thanks to Google translate, I now know how to spell “meow” in both Arabic and Persian, the two languages most spoken in the seven countries included in the current U.S. ban on refugees. And, while I know that words matter, (and I like to use words, sometimes too many words, ask my husband,) I’m just going to let my picture do the talking for me this time.
As an aside, I was so interested in this idea of language, that I looked up a few statistics and found out that there are more world-wide native speakers of Spanish than of English, for example. English is the 4th most spoken language, followed by Arabic. (source)
Attempting to break out of my artistic doldrums, I suited up and braved the cold weather to try some snow sculpture.
This cat is about three feet tall, with eyes and nose of stone, and whiskers of white pine.
The day was sunny for the first time in a long string of dark days, so I thought the snow would be prime for sculpting. However, it was still very powdery, and not packable. I had to bring buckets of water to mix with the snow to get it to stick to itself. I had a blast (by myself!) and managed to learn a lot about making non-snowman objects out of snow.
I started by shoveling a mound, then adding buckets of half water/half snow to the pile and stirring it up before it would congeal into packable matter. After that, I made additions by wetting both surfaces to be joined. It was cold enough, despite the sun, that the slushy mixture became icy pretty quickly, but that allowed me to use a garden trowel to scrape away and carve. .
My results are blocky and a bit rough. I would have continued for much longer, refining things here and there, if my feet had not turned to ice in my boots. Plus, I had already been working for three hours and needed to move on with the more responsible parts of my day.
The snow cat is thoroughly melting now because we’ve had some rain, but that is the way of temporary installations. When this one melts away, I would definitely try it again! I highly recommend snow sculpture, if you’ve got the available materials.
The ornaments on my tree all have an origin story. Some belonged to my mother. Others were made by my husband, or by me. Many more were gifts from friends or former students. Each decoration has meaning, and evokes the giver, the event at which it was acquired, or the location of purchase or creation. The Christmas tree, then, becomes a receptacle of memory, representing the strata of my life, and that of my family.
Do not eat. Not a real cookie.
As a cat person, I receive a lot of cat Christmas tree ornaments as gifts. This one, though, I purchased myself while celebrating a birthday dinner on a riverboat in Hannibal, Missouri. (Yes, the Hannibal that is famous as being the hometown of Mark Twain.) I liked this cat for the whimsical arch of its back, and that it looks like a frosted gingerbread cookie. I’ve been staring at it ever since our tree went up a couple of weeks ago. This morning, I was compelled to document it.
I just want to say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to everyone, if that’s your thing, and, at the very least, Happy Solstice! This is as dark as it gets in the Northern Hemisphere. Be warm, safe, and thoughtful this holiday.
Inktober continues to whoosh along. Here’s Hidden.
Feeling safe in my tube.
On Sunday nights I used to help feed feral cats who lived in managed colonies not far from my neighborhood. There were four stops, and on any given night, I might see from 5 – 30 cats who came to the feeding areas for food. There were a few cats who would get close enough for a quick scruff, but the majority of them would hang back until the food was in a dish.
My Inktober interpretation for SAD is based on my experiences with the colony cats. I would worry on nights when I didn’t see a regular visitor, or if a cat was clearly in distress. But, at the very least, these cats were spayed or neutered, and got a meal once a day. Occasionally, there would be a sick or injured cat, who, if it could be safely trapped, received health care. When kittens did show up, they were carefully captured, and placed in forever homes.
I dedicate this drawing to all of those scrappy cats who survive in the streets, around dumpsters, drainages, and parking lots.
Random objects usually go on a shelf in my studio where they pile up as remembrances of people, places, or events. I used one such corner as inspiration for Day 3 of Inktober.
Day 3: Collect
The treasures on this shelf in my studio were given to me by friends, relatives, and former students.
The oldest item on the shelf is the cloth clown that I got at an art fair 20 years ago! The waving red cat, the blue sparkle cat, the giant black bird, and the can of soup all came from students. Every object here has a story that helps construct my memories.
A trinket from the fair. A little souvenir. Small gifts from friends. Do you have a collection of such things?
Last year, I participated in Drawlloween, a challenge for artists to post a work every day for the month of October based on Halloween themed prompts. Despite my most sincere efforts, I can not draw anything that looks really scary, but, I proceeded anyway, rendering my subjects in watercolor and pen. You can look back on my interpretations starting with Drawlloween with Cats, where I present the first four drawings I completed, including Return from the Dead, Mansions and Manors, Spider Day, and Better Homes & Goblins.
Day 1: Fast
I contemplated joining in the spooky fun again this year, but, instead, opted to do Inktober, which follows a similar format by providing daily drawing prompts. Inktober is decidedly non-seasonal, and the only rule, really, is that the drawing must be executed in ink. I find the discipline of using pens quite appealing, and I admire artists who do fine inking work. My favorite of all time is Edward Gorey, but a recent find is the illustrator Franco Matticcio. Both of these artists employ fine, directional marks, layering, and a variety of patterns and textures to create contrast and build form. Their drawings are also whimsical, and they both draw cats, among other things.
Day 2: Noisy
Across the board, interpretations of these prompts varies wildly, with incredible artists submitting their works. It is SO inspiring and fun to see what other people draw. You can see what other artists are doing by searching #inktober and #drawlloween on any social media site!
Already a couple of days behind the Inktober schedule, posts will arrive as I complete more drawings.
Maybe you’re familiar with the Cha Cha Slide, that ubiquitous dance number played at exactly every wedding I’ve been to since 2000.
I tend to appreciate a line dance with directions, not because I’m not an able dancer without the prescribed steps, but because, suddenly, SO MANY other people are out on the dance floor. It’s like being in a music video with your auntie, or a flash mob with the bride’s little cousin. So, thanks, friends and relatives who have this song played at their wedding receptions, because, I’m certain I wouldn’t experience the Cha Cha Slide for any other reason. Party on, cats!