25 January 2009

What are these Strange Monkey-Beasts?

If you were to have told me, even two months ago, that I would paint cute pictures of cats and post them online I ... well here we are. It turns out to be part of this gig. Why not?
These tiny requests come as part of a family pack of three paintings ordered by Dawn Schot Klotzbach. Her son, Sander, who is 3 1/2 requested a cat jumping on a bed. Her daughter Ivy, who is 1 1/2, copied a little and asked for a kitty drinking from a milk bottle. Dawn's painting will be posted later but it involves a T-shirt and baby electricity. This is a lot of baby.
Getting a request to paint for some one's children is both flattering and slightly intimidating. For some reason, I feel like things made for kids need to be super magical. No one wants to be the guy who disappoints the kids. Right? But I'm pleased to do it.
When starting these, my first realization was that I had absolutely zero understanding of cat anatomy. Luckily, I find that there is no lack of cute cat pictures on the Internet to reference. (I might go as far as to say that the Internet is for looking at cute cat pictures). I've had pet cats before, but I obviously didn't pay any attention to them. When I really looked at these cat pictures, the animals looked alien to me. "What are these strange monkey-beasts?", I thought. I marvelled at how their legs seemed to bend the wrong way in the wrong places. But I slowly worked it out like a scientist. In the science of cute.
I approached these paintings with the intention of making something in the style of illustrations from a classic American storybook. (This is opposed to the wacky "Hang in There" poster style, or "lasagna and a nap" Garfield style). The cat drinking from a the antiquated milk bottle seemed to beg for images that harkin back to days of olde.
On the milk bottle painting, I sanded down the edges to suggest something ethereal. I know that kitties and the ethereal don't go hand in hand, but think of it as a child's dream kitten. He mischievously sneaks milk from the bottle that is about to tip. In reality, this scene is the start of a mess that would probably provoke some yelling and end with a crabby clean up. But here it is quaint. (My wife pointed out that this seems to takes place on the same table as the Tiny Flemish Feast. The kitten must have already eaten the lobster, and hazelnuts and drank all the wine. Thanks for the sharp observation, Beth.)

With the cat jumping on a bed painting, I tried to make a narrative. A little bit of a Good Night Moon thing, maybe. The cat flying in bed at the end of the day. Are cats nocturnal?
Anyway, I'll spare you anymore deep thoughts . These are cat paintings.
Keep watching, I have three more paintings to post this week!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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