When you are a “cat person”, it seems to begin with day one and work its way all through your life to the end, with cats intertwined with everything in between. And I’ve been looking at this batik I did in sixth grade and thinking how cool it would be to batik again…
In 2011, when I cleaned out, renovated and organized my spare bedroom into my studio I unearthed a number of works I’d had stored away in a portfolio for safe keeping when I ran out of room on my walls. That included this batik which I’d stretched but never framed, and seeing it again I was actually pretty impressed both with what I had accomplished as a 12-year-old in a media totally new to me as well as how I rendered the colors and stripe patterns on an orange tabby cat when my cat at the time was gray and white. I’d used my cat and cat themes in several art projects at that time and it seems I was determined to render my cats and cats in general in artwork even back then.
I clearly remember watching the teacher show us the batik process of painting melted wax onto the cloth and letting the wax harden and then dipping it in dye baths, using successively darker dyes with more wax coatings in between to resist the new color in those areas. I grew up watching people make pysanky, the highly patterned and multi-colored Ukrainian Easter eggs. I had made a few myself by that time and it was the same principle of covering an area with wax and then dipping it in dye. I actually remember painting the wax on the fabric in the correct areas and dipping the fabric into the dye, then later ironing it out onto newspaper.
But my kitty was gray and white, and to my knowledge I didn’t know an orange kitty of anyone else’s very well at all, though I’m sure, knowing all the cats I encountered around our neighborhood, there was likely more than one tabby I encountered. I have no idea where the idea began, or even if I had a reference photo. I don’t remember actually visualizing the orange kitty with its paws rolled under and an orange kitty smile, like they do, but I remember sketching kitties in this shape at that time.
Since this process depended on the use of color, then, I chose the color of a cat I was sure I had seen, an orange cat; I loved bright colors then as now, and was particularly into pinks and oranges, especially fluorescent colors. Well, it was the early 70s. Well, the whole thing is kind of reminiscent of an early 70s style. And I realize how many things stay with us through the years as I recognize that influence still appears in what I do today.
But it also has echoes of The Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, long one of my favorite stories, and being an early cat person The Cheshire Cat was a favorite right away, along with The White Kitten.
Now that I look at it from the perspective of 25 years of drawing cats, I’m amazed at my 12-year-old’s observation skills and ability to visualize. How did I know where and how the stripes fell, how they were shaped, how they curved around the hip, and how some actually came up from the bottom rather than down from the top? And the subtle tone-on-tone orange, and the white bib? Perhaps the white bib was inspired by Bootsie’s white bib. What took me so long to get around to painting cats, like, 20 years later?
This had hung high up on the wall in my studio for several years, but as I added height to the shelves I took it down and packed it away because it had become covered where it was hanging. The memory of it barely entered my consciousness until I discovered it. What luck! I’ve stretched and framed this behind glass so that it doesn’t get any dirtier. I can’t wait to batik again, but it’s proved a little tricky in this house with these particular cats.
This also reminds me it’s been years since I had an orange kitty in my “permanent collection” of cats, a few fosters, but not one who stayed since Allegro passed in 1996. Finally, his portrait is on my list of new paintings…
A New Member Thank You
You can get a free matted print when you register for an account on Portraits of Animals.
Register for an account on Portraits of Animals and get a free double-matted print of “Smiling Ginger Kitty” or choose from several other sketches, paintings or photos of cats and other subjects.
The New Member print is a signed digital print of “Smiling Ginger Kitty”. This print is 8 x 11 matted to fit an 11 x 14 frame.
This print is only available as a new member gift during this month while it’s the featured artwork and desktop calendar, so make sure you sign up before the end of the month!
Or purchase the original or a different print or item
I also offer a variety of digital and canvas prints, a greeting card and a note card, find this on Portraits of Animals.
This month’s desktop calendar
If these sizes don’t work for your device, or if you have problems, please let me know. Often I can troubleshoot the reason an image won’t download or won’t load on your device, but if I just can’t figure it out I can just email it to you and hope that works.
How to download and use your desktop calendar
- Click on one of the images below that matches the dimensions of your monitor to open the image in a new page.
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- For mobile devices, press on the image to bring up a menu and choose “open in new window”. Go to that window and press until a menu appears and choose as “set as wallpaper” or “set as lock screen” or whatever you’d like—this is slightly different on all devices.
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Take a look at other featured artwork and desktop calendar posts on The Creative Cat.
Each month I feature a piece of feline artwork from the archives to the present day, discuss its history and process, and set it up as a free downloadable desktop calendar for just about every electronic device available.Other items with the same art or design To find all items on this site with the same art or design, use the search box for the name of the artwork and you'll find all that's available.
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