The Blue-eyed Cat is part of an inter-species series of creatures who were delighted (in the nicest possible way) that I spent some of 2018 somewhat uninspired. Pushing on, following the “make art every day” principle, I made sheets and sheets of tiny abstract designs. I had an Artist Epiphany in October (an odd thing for a Jewish person, but an epiphany nonetheless), and realized that even if my Dear Departed Mother were to come back to life, that no one would buy any of these patterned sheets. Luckily enough, as a Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian, I am surrounded by creatures who were delighted to say “thank you for making our new body parts.”
Cats care exceedingly about their whiskers, and Red Cat is not exception. There was an enormous amount of caterwauling while the Red Cat was at Hair and Makeup. How short should his whiskers be? Were they shiny enough? The tricky one — do they match? — came in at a resounding “no,” be he was OK with that.
Red Cat, Red Roo, (District Spotlight Winner) and a menagerie of whimsical creatures will be at The Show Gallery, 346 N. Sibley Street, Saint Paul from Friday April 26 to Sunday April 28. The Gallery is half a block from the Green Line and a block from Union Station. It is super accessible because it is on the ground floor. Come to Saint Paul. See local artists. Support local artists. Thank you.
Click Here for Free Transit Passes for Saturday and Sunday!
As the 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl approaches, my studio has been very very busy. Cats came and went. Cats came back. Cats lined up. Cats caterwauled. Cats waited patiently and impatiently for hair and makeup. They are looking forward to being at The Show Gallery in Lowertown.
Gray and White Cats for the Art Crawl*
The Gray and White Cats have waited very very patiently for some months as they haggled between themselves and with me (occasionally) about how their hair and makeup would work. We finally agreed on a mixture of acrylic paints, and acrylic mediums (Golden Clear Tar Gel).
Two Cats on Two Canvases for the Art Crawl*
These cats are Fraternal Twins who loved their many trips to hair, makeup, and wardrobe. In their minds, their costumes are covered with jewels and precious metals. Don’t confuse them with facts.
The Blue Cat from the Clowder of Cats has been nagging. “Where is my portrait? Why can’t my legion of fans get copies? What do you do all day? Nap??!!??”
While others have accused me of allowing my affection for cats to get out of hand, the Blue Cat will have none of it. “You are ignoring my public!”
The prints are easy to find at ETSY. They are digital prints made on Epson paper with archival Epson ink. Each is printed on 8-1/2 x 11 paper and is unmatted. If you are in Minneapolis, call ahead to see if prints are available at The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market (612-965-8581).
Chatting with Very Blue Cat
“Clowder,” as you know, is the collective noun for cats. Similar to “convocation of eagles” and “battery of barracudas,” it means everything and evokes something that you are not quite certain exists. As a fan of mystery fiction, I am partial to “murder of crows,” but that is for another day.
The Very Blue Cat is part of a Clowder of Cats which I paint in Saint Paul Minnesota, and model on a photograph of Max-the-Cat, the model, muse, and snacks manager.
Very Blue Cat is purr-snickety, and complains a lot. He always wants more and better food. (“I like BIG shrimp.”) The sun, which travels around my home studio onto a staircase, onto windowsills, and, for a good part of the day, is in front of a sliding glass door, provides insufficient sunshine-vitamin-D. Or so he says, not realizing that my condo earned architectural awards for use of sunlight in the Frozen North.
He has strong opinions, urging farmers to grow more catnip, and ice-cream makers to create cat nip ice cream. Were he an interior designer, his clients would have only very soft pillows for naps, which would be rearranged (and fluffed), hour-by-hour as the sun moves through the houses. I would wonder who his clients might be? The humans? Or the Cats?
While sitting on my porch, he has long conversations with local squirrels, and one of his best friends is Barky-the-Squirrel. Between Barky’s barking and Very Blue’s cat-like chirp-and-growl, they keep local birds on their toes.
Max-the-Cat commissioned a new portrait to commemorate his most recent achievement. He is now a Brown Velvet Belt Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire. His penetrating gaze creates an unbreakable bond between cat-and-human, cat-and-other-cat, cat-and-insect, and cat-and-vacuum cleaner. He bends everything to his will, which serves him in the Hierarchy of Interests: Food, Most Comfortable Seat, Food, and Silence.
Using Olympic-level concentration, Max’s training regime included hours of focused staring, with eyes fixed on a tiny speck of dust. He applied astonishing attention, gazing at individual leaves on a now-bare tree. Did his constant attention cause the leaves to fall? That’s someone’s dissertation.
Perfecting the Ritual of Insistence
He applied his vision, perfecting the “Ritual of Insistence,” in which a cat sits on a sleeping human’s stomach, with his or her head as close as possible to the human’s face. Deep gazing (and sometimes other activities) compel the human to get out of bed and feed the cat. Inexperienced cats use kneading, slapping, nose-nipping, and projectile vomiting to wake the human. The Brown Velvet Belt Feline Hypnotist Extraordinaire uses the power of the mind.
Brown Velvet Level
Among those who care about these things, there was some consternation about naming the top-level belted Feline Hypnotist “Brown” instead of “blue” for “Blue Ribbon” or “Black” for “Black Belt.” The truth is that the organizers and perpetuators of this competition also own a fabric store. Some years ago someone made an astonishingly large incorrect order of non-returnable brown velvet. They have donated yards of it to theater companies for velvet tree trunks, supported brown velvet bunny artists, and they continue to look for new uses for this beautiful fabric.
How the portrait was made
Max posed. Susan Gainen photographed with her IPhone and transferred the photo to her desktop and into Photoshop. With some adjustments, including cutting his image from the background and adding a sponge layer, Max emerged triumphant.
Cats look so peaceful when they sleep. Nonsense. They are plotting cat crime.
If you live with cats, you are a victim of cat crime. You wake up to find socks missing, valuable glass in pieces, stray outdoor animal and plant life on the stairs and in the middle of the living room. Depending on the quality of your laundry detergent, you may find cat hair on fresh sheets, and evidence of your white cat’s nap on your black t-shirts. Cat crime is everywhere and all the time.
Visit the police precinct
None of your cats will own up to these felonies, so you may eventually go to your local police precinct to see a photo array of neighborhood cat criminals. Good luck with that.
Cat Crime, Mugshotz and Mugshots
This piece was originally called “Mugshotz,” until I realized that the clever misspelling would be defeated by Search Engine Optimization, so it is now “Mugshots.”
Why celebrate cat crime? Recycling.
I made the original (16×20) mixed media piece from 12 four-inch cat faces that I painted for the 2015 Cat Video Festival in Saint Paul. I packaged them with magnets as “Cats-on-the-Fridge.” They were spectacularly unsuccessful and all but two came home with me. After sulking for a while, they begged to go out into the world again. Not that they didn’t like me, you understand, but they were bored. Here they are. The original, subject to availability, is $120 plus the actual cost of shipping. Contact me directly.
Prints and cards
Prints (8×10 and other sizes to order) and cards are available through The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Come to the Market for the art and stay for the fabulous food. For anyone NOT in the Twin Cities, find prints and cards at ETSY.
I am a 2016 Art-a-Whirl guest artist Studio 435. I’ve brought new work and old friends.
When he was a tiny parrot Peter the Tattooed Parrot had trouble learning to talk. His parents sent him to a Pediatric Avian Audiologist. The rest is history. …
Black and White Neighborhood and Orange Neighborhoods 1 is part of my wish for humanity: every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it. Collaboration. Cooperation. Some Neighborhoods pieces are straight paint (watercolor or acrylic). The others are Paper Mosaics, a new obsession. Having abandoned all activities requiring safety equipment or liability waivers on my 60th birthday put tile and glass cutting and bungee jumping off my list. Undeterred in my quest to celebrate tiny shapes, I’m creating tile from paper, paint and acrylic mediums. #artfun …
Surprised Panda is one of the Pandas from the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul. Two of them visited me, promised to sit for portraits and tell their stories if I promised to provide snacks (Max the Cat is the Snacks Manager) and to keep the location of their Forest a secret. No, the forest is NOT in Como Park.
Friendship #4: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky is part of a series of paintings that explore and celebrate connections. Just as in life, everything is connected.
Shiny Gold from the Clowder of Cats. Who knew that the collective noun for cat was “clowder.” I was closely supervised by Max the Cat, who modeled for this series,
Two wonderful art events this weekend: Do the Dow (at the Dow Building at 2242 University Avenue W.) and Peggy’s Holiday Boutique, a 30+year tradition at the Roseville Oval. Each show has one of my favorite paintings.
Artists with studios at the Dow Building and who are part of Khanh Tran’s Dow Gallery will be opening their doors and celebrating their art. Count on great food and music and lots of fun. Friday 6-10; Saturday 12-6.
A 30+ year tradition with more than 100 artists’ work, the Roseville Oval hosts Peggy’s Holiday Boutique. It is a vortex of creative energy, and the artists’ work includes jewelry, painting, ceramics,glass, fudge (yes! fudge), wood work, leather, candles, and so much more. You will find some locally and nationally recognized artists. Friday: 10-8:30; Saturday 10-6; Sunday 10-4.
Where does inspiration come from? It depends. Capturing inspiration is like chasing lightening. Catch it if you can. Use it because you must.
Sometimes I’m inspired by creatures — or the idea of new creatures.
Sometimes, as with these two small cats, I get excited about a family of creatures that has lined up in my studio waiting for paint. These are part of the Small Clowder of Cats. “Clowder” is the collective noun for cats and I have made 14 of them. The tiny original paintings are matted and ready to frame at 5×7 inches. $15 plus $5 postage. Subject to availability.
Products inspire and energize
Sometimes I’m inspired by products. The Golden brand of acrylic mediums provides me with daily inspiration.
How can I combine the gel mediums and the acrylic mediums with acrylic paint or watercolors to create new textures and colors? Are there tools that I can use to create new textures? Can I use these products as glue? Or for collage? This presents a daily delightful challenge. Note that this orderly tower presents an unrealistic notion of the tidiness of my studio.