This is a story of cat love. Our country abode has attracted many cats, birds, and rodents and more over the years. The water fountain and bird bath are a favorite neighborhood stop. Our beloved cat of 15 years, named Phil by my boys when they were little, showed up as a hungry abandoned teenager and hung around crying all day until we embraced him as ours. Many years later we noticed this gorgeous black angora cat following Phil around all day, and we realized he was here to stay. Sylvester is his name for obvious reasons (white bib and markings). And now years later Phil and Syl have become an old gay couple with side by side food bowls outside under the sycamore tree.
acrylic and fabric collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″
Since we have paintings of all our pets over the years, going back even to the gecko drawings that Ben did when he was in preschool, the bunny, and definitely Phil; I decided it was time to include Sylvester in the pantheon. I did it in the style similar to the portrait I’d done of Phil a few years ago – fabric collage and acrylic paint with a helping of whimsy. It was clear that a portrait of Sylvester must include his beloved Phil.
Portrait of Phil
Today Phil is standing by in the drizzle of rain watching as Andrew, my son who is still visiting, is using all his wiles to try to capture our latest uninvited guest – a handsome and surprisingly smart and elusive young rooster, who is tearing up our garden and loudly proclaiming his virility with day-long cock-a-doodle-dooing and leaving his poo patties on the walkway. So far the errant rooster has won and I’m readying my sketchbook to at least derive some artistic satisfaction from this epic battle of the wits.
Staying on the outskirts of the burned areas, not wanting to get in the way of recovery efforts, not wanting to see the devastation of our beautiful Santa Rosa neighborhoods, parks, vineyards. But the images are already burned into our minds and hearts.
Muse Group demo: acrylic, gesso, fabric collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″
Crow lands on a burnt out tree, ponders as he watches ash float down.
Nothing familiar here. In the ashes nothing looks the same, a world upended.
And yet, shapes of people’s lives, of things one time possessed, then not. Shards of things, zippers without the pants. Paper gone, words gone.
Yet in someone’s yard five miles away a restaurant menu piece floats to the ground and a bill as yet unpaid.
acrylic paint and fabric collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″
About 13 years ago this little yellow cat appeared in the bushes in front of our house and meowed incessantly for days until we finally let him join our other cat as a (reluctant to us) family member. He had that piercing Siamese kind of meow, which makes you want to do anything to shut it up. Food always worked, and later it was petting that worked. And after a few years, he had us trained well enough that he only had to ask once, and we knew what to give him. My boys named him Phil after some poker champion (go figure) and I had no say in the matter.
Fast forward a few years. I’m not sure when it happened that Phil learned a technique for getting any passer-by to pet him. He flops down in front of you while you’re walking, so that you have to do a quick little dance step to avoid stepping on him. His soft exposed belly and audible purr is enough to get the message across, and most people find it impossible not to scratch an ear or rub that belly. That’s my favorite part. He’s my buddy whenever I’m outside gardening, or sitting eating my lunch or doing my Chi Gong under the trees or sketching.
The hallway of our home exhibits some of my paintings of previous pets – Alexander the cat and the bunny whose name I’ve forgotten. I wanted Phil there too. So when I introduced a new mixed media lesson in the Muse group on fabric collage, I decided to try doing Phil’s portrait.
This pose is a typical daytime one. He loves to sun himself in the dirt in the garden and look up at us langorously as we pass. I took a picture and did a line drawing of the pose on the paper. On a trip to the fabric store I picked up swatches of fabrics I thought would be fun to use. The rest is probably obvious. I cut strips of the cloth, piecing them to fit the drawing and then added paint to complete the picture. I imitated the style of one of my favorite mixed media artists Mark English.
golden brown ink, dip pen, watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 8 X 5″
Another one of Phil’s typical poses. He likes to sit under that table between our chairs outside watching me while I eat, and then falling asleep. Look at that face. Like I said, the sweetest cat in the world.