Petting the Tiger
September 27, 2013
“God created the cat so man would know what it was like to pet the tiger.”
Dr. Samuel Johnson
The show for which I have been madly creating work opens on October 8th at the Gallery at Town Center, in Lake Forest Park, Washington. The last pieces are now at the framer, and I have a quiet, in-between moment to reflect on this wonderful, intense process.
In Missing Lynx, my first blog post about preparing for a show, I talked about muses. Every time I have created a body of work, an animal has come forward and offered to work with me. The lynx I created arrived first, leaving fresh tracks in the snow, and has since watched from the living room mantle, welcoming every animal who followed in the last several weeks. There are bigger cats, and many birds, and finally, two small felines, bookends of this amazingly creative work cycle that began a year ago, inspired by a group of kittens and their very special mother.
And so, I come full circle. I did not grow up with cats, did not live with one until I was twenty, and I have always felt as if I had to make up for lost time. A fascination became a passion, one that continues to guide my life’s adventure. Even when I worked at a shelter, I craved even more interaction with cats. I got home, spent time with my resident felines, and then went for long walks to commune with neighboring cats of the night. They were my outdoor inspiration, each one a reminder of Leonardo daVinci’s observation, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”
A Canada Lynx may be the muse for my current work, but Felis catus, the small masterpieces who share my house and my computer screen, are my daily muses. Last year, I fell for a Kitten Cam family, fostered by Purrfect Pals volunteer John Bartlett. John sets up a camera in his kitten room so viewers can watch little ones from the time they are born until they are old enough for adoption. A whole community revolves around that camera, an extended family of ailurophiles from around the world. Tune in any time day or night, and you will find folks chatting about kitten antics, their own pets, what they had for dinner. It goes deeper, into friendships off line, shared dreams and hopes, support during times of hardship and loss. And perhaps the greatest gift of all: no one has to make excuses for being a cat person.
Last year, the Scientist Kittens captured my imagination, and got me back into the studio to do their portrait. On September 29, 2012, Einstein, Tesla, Darwin, and Newton were adopted into their forever homes. Marie, their mother, spent some time recovering her health at Purrfect Pals, and then found the best home imaginable in late November. Their human families keep fans up to date with regular Facebook posts.
Since then, several families have grown up on the Kitten Cam and found their humans. Tomorrow, the Looney fosters will get their turn. Penelope, Taz, Marvin, Sylvester, and mama Hazel have legions of followers who will watch anxiously for updates until every one of them has been adopted.
As I chose the subjects for my last show pieces, I thought gratefully of 2 of my most recent muses: Ellie Marie, Scientist mother; and Hazel, soon to be freed from the duties of motherhood to experience her own, playful kittenhood. These lovely ladies have captured many hearts, my own included. So, to both of you, thank you for inspiring me, for refueling my passion to work on behalf of your species.
I will be honored to have work at The Gallery at Town Center from October 8 through November 16. A percentage of the sale of Ellie Marie’s and Hazel’s portraits will be donated to Purrfect Pals.
Constance, what a beautiful portrait of my sweet little Ellie Marie. She and I both appreciate what you said about her. Thank you dear friend….
Ardell, what a joy to do her portrait. Ellie Marie is the perfect model!
I just enlarged the scientist family portrait and laughed out loud at their collection of toys. Where can I get a Darwin fish for the kitties in my life?
Ha! I had so much fun making those little toys. Any further Darwin fish will also be made of paper, and wouldn’t last very long in feline paws. Survival of the fittest, I guess!