Paintings

So Near and Yet So Far

three cats chasing one bird

A scene from life: the bird flew in and led the cats on a mad chase until I was able to catch it and put it safely outside again.

Best Friends

Tim and Truffles

Tim (20-plus pounds) and Truff (15 pounds) lived in the same building for many years. Even when their ages—like their weights—got into the double digits, they kept their kittenish personalities. It may be coincidence that they are both Siamese varieties, though neither one has the sleek, svelte body type. Tim is a Flame Point (Siamese with red tabby markings); Truff is a Snowshoe (white feet and face).

Paintings from the Art for Life studio are displayed in a variety of places, some more public than others. So it should have been no surprise when Tim’s human reported that she had come face to face with a picture of Tim and Truff—in the hallway of her doctor’s office. It must have made a nice break from lists of common health hazards and diagrams of the digestive system.

Rajah

Rajah showed up in my neighborhood in the fall of 2000, obviously home­less. I never learned her story. Maybe she wandered off and nobody looked for her. Maybe she was dumped. The “Parting View” picture was made from this idea.

She was a beautiful long-haired calico-tabby-point Siamese with turquoise blue eyes. She must have been an inutterly adorable kitten. But by the time I met her she was very old and very ill. She was constantly getting infections. They cleared right up, but another one followed soon after.

Rajah’s Parting View

Rajah’s eyes looking back

I named her “Rajah” because at first I thought she was a neutered male, mainly because Dixie as a young cat got along better with males than females. Until I bathed her, I did not realize her points were calico; she simply looked brown, or lynx point. She was too feeble to object to being bathed. Under the long hair she weighed only four pounds.

Rajah at the Door

Rajah at the door

The other cats avoided her—wisely, it turned out—and would not eat from a dish she had touched. She would not use regular cat litter, but only shredded paper in a separate box. She never lived with me; she slept in the attic of an open garage nearby. But I knew she could never get through a second winter. That was when I brought her in for tests before looking into rescues.

When her test results came back, half the readings were out of “normal” range. And she was positive for FIV, FeLV and FIH. That’s cat AIDS, cat leukemia and cat hepatitis. She also had a sort of kitty Alzheimer’s, sometimes making it impossible to approach her except by stealth. This last factor put a “special needs” sanctuary out of the question, even if there had been one nearby. She is the only cat I have ever had put to sleep.

Cat Fruits

cats in various edible shapes

As we all know, a cat can adjust itself into any shape or position that suits its convenience. Look at a sleeping cat, blink, and the cat will have executed a perfect Flip Horizontal in less time than your drawing program can do it.

Valentine

valentine cats

This is one of the earliest paintings I ever did in Art for Life. So we’re looking at somewhere around the year 2000. I think the picture is still around.

Truff’s Perch

cat atop a tall bookcase

This is what is known as Artistic License. In real life, Truff’s perch was a spare mattress standing on end, balanced against a refrigerator. A freestanding bookcase would not have been as comfortable—but it makes a better picture.

Truff’s official name is Truffles. But it is always condensed to Truff. Unless, conversely, it is expanded: Truffleupagus, Truffleupagoople, and so on.

The Cat in the Hat

cat looking out of a hat

Call it an artistic experiment—the same one that led to Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. The challenge: a dark, cool-colored foreground against a light, warm-colored background.

See No Evil

three cats trying not to hear, see or eat the wrong thing

Well, two out of three isn’t bad. If you mess with the fish you will get wet; if you mess with the rat you will get bitten. But, like the song says:

. . . Oh I ate the parakeet

So no more will it go tweet

And I even ate the feet

(Crunch, crunch, crunch).

Quoted from memory—inaccurately, it turns out. But the cat probably doesn’t mind.

Reading the Signs

cat teaching her kittens which apartments are friendly

When you move to a new place, it is important to learn to read the signs. Every cat knows the invisible mark on the door that says cats welcome here. You must also learn to distinguish between the homes that ignore you, and the ones that should be carefully avoided. If you are a two-timer by nature, you can make a killing in a mid-sized apartment complex.

Jason’s Cat

cat drawn by Jason Wenger and colored by me

The cat was originally drawn by Jason Wenger. It sat, unfinished, for a year or so until I stepped in to rescue it. Jason didn’t feel inspired, but it was too perfect a drawing to leave as nothing more than charcoal on paper. Admittedly it’s a minimalist painting; anything other than a solid color would have detracted from the lines.

. . . And that’s why people have studio groups.

Cat: after Angie Armijo

cat looking out the window at another cat

I don’t remember what particular painting inspired this one—except, of course, that it was something another studio member did. It was probably something about the eyes in the window.

Cats: after Richard Cornell

cats in the style of Richard Cornell

The Art for Life studio used to have a lot more people in it. Some lost their eyesight to the point where they could no longer paint. Some moved on—to better things or worse. And some have died.

Richard Cornell was very fond of cats. But most of the time they appeared at the very bottom of a vertical page. These are two of my variations on his theme. Maybe the cat way down at the bottom of the picture really is hiding from something. Or maybe it’s lurking there for reasons of its own, waiting to pounce—or flee.

full-size picture