You’ve seen other works featuring Sally, but this was one of the first. Just after I’d painted Stanley in “After Dinner Nap” I felt I’d arrived at a style and a level of ability and began painting at a furious pace, both my cats and landscapes. This was the year after I’d lost Kublai, and begun painting en plein air and painting serious landscapes, and all that had come together for me. I had studied Sally’s silky white fur from the day she’d come to live with me in 1984, photographed her regularly, but finally felt I had the insight and ability to capture all the colors and textures of her creamy tresses.
Photographing a cat in the process of a bath, white or black or striped or spotted, was no easier then than it is now except that I didn’t know what I hadn’t caught until I had the photos developed. Most of the photos were when Sally had her back turned. I chose this pose because you could still see Sally’s face, though she was looking down, and there is something I love about a cat’s face at that angle, the soft forehead, the nose, the whiskers sprouting here and there.
This painting sold in the days before I took adequate photos, and though I’ve been working on getting an image of the original I just have to live with this for now, so I don’t have any closeups. Still, this is the painting where I remember the feeling of “fingerpainting” for the first time, applying layers and colors of pastel, them mixing them with my fingertips and knuckles, the sides of my hands, both hands, a different color in each area. It was because I looked at the fur on Sally’s head in the reference photo and imagined digging my fingers into it to scratch the top of her head, which she loved, and I did my best to make the top of her head make me, and you, want to do that, even to feel it. The bright pink of her ear, the cool and warm highlights in her fur, it was all I could do to focus on one area to work it out completely.
This window is that favorite “big north window”, the casement that opens onto the side yard where I’ve photographed cats since the year I moved in here, but this is the original metal casement window. Along with Sally’s creamy beauty there were the long angled shadows from the metal muntins in the windows, on the wall and book case and on Sally, the white-painted stucco wall, and the dappled side yard outside the window. I’m still very pleased with this painting, and even if I painted it today I may do some things differently, but I don’t think I could improve on this.
Once I’d finished four similar paintings, “After Dinner Nap“, “A Warm Bath”, “A Rosy Glow” and “The Little Sunflower”, I decided I had to have color note cards with my artwork on them to sell, and in 1998 had the set entitled “My Cats in the Sun” printed by traditional offset printing, not the ease of digital printing today. I still have a few left of this original set of cards; they’ve gone in and out of popularity, but some customers find them nice for professional correspondence and for sympathy cards, so they will still be around.
I had taken several reference photos of Sally having a good bath in front of that old metal casement window; I replaced it with the big north window where Giuseppe sings and we all watch birds, lots of morning light, angled in, and my cats have always loved to gather in that light through the years, and you still see it in my artwork. I also used another photo from this set for a commissioned piece, “Welcome Spring With a Unique Commission”.
Many of the cats who’ve lived with me as permanent members or fosters were considered “unadoptable” or “less adoptable”. One of the reasons I ply you with photos and paintings and sketches and stories is to reinforce, every day, every way I can, that there is no such thing as “unadoptable” or “less adoptable”, that there is nothing at all different about these cats. Behind their appearance and the knowledge of something about them that is somehow different from what we think of as a pet, they are simply the same loving animals as those who seem to be perfect. There is nothing to fear in living with an animal that is different, once you know them, once you’ve fallen in love, you’ll forget all about that missing eye, or their advanced years.
Sally was genetically deaf, and very high-spirited, a combination that didn’t suit her original owner though he’d wanted a cat with her looks, not an uncommon reason for surrender with deaf cats. I agreed to take her rather than see her go to a shelter; read “My First ‘Less Adoptable’ Kitty”, and look at this painting and tell me if you could know that she was in any way different, or that it would even be important to you in the face of that much beauty.
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 “Holly on the Rocker” or choose from several other sketches, paintings or photos of cats and other subjects.
The New Member print is a signed digital print of “A Warm Bath”. 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, find this on Portraits of Animals.
You can also order this image as a greeting card.
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.
- For desktop computers and laptops, right-click on that image and on a desktop computer choose “save as desktop wallpaper” or “save as background” or whichever option your operating system gives you to be able to do this. You may also simply save it to your hard drive and set it as your background from there.
- 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.
Horizontal and HD monitors and screens
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Take a look at other featured artwork and desktop calendar posts.
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
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