Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why Paint Dressed-Up Cats?
The short answer is that I discovered early on I can't paint people.  My father was a self-taught artist who painted wonderful portraits.  When I tried to develop my own painting style, I came up with these cats.  The family always had cats, and of course I was familiar with cat artists like Kleban.  I really started with cat angels on Christmas cards for my friends in high school home economics; they really enjoyed them.

 One of my early loves was opera.  Strange places, strange customs, wonderful costumes, and plenty of opportunity to let it all hang out.  I collected opera pictures, especially Callas pictures, because, when she did it, opera looked and sounded real.  The picture above is based on a photo of her and Ruggerio Raimondi in Act I of Lucia di Lammermoor.

Gradually, I became interested in painting all sorts of scenes, especially with historic costume.  From my father I learned to "look for copy", and I made scrapbooks from Metropolitan Museum of Art catalogs, tracings from fashion books from the library, and similar things.  One of my favorite sources is magazines from the 1920s, saved by a relative.  Dover Publications is a wonderful source of inspiration.  (They also have books of free pictures you can use for painting or embroidery.

Everybody needs a touch of fantasy in their lives.  My whimsical cats amuse even non-cat lovers.  Many of my best customers are middle school girls, which is why I paint paper mache and wooden boxes to provide a little bit of fantasy at a reasonable price.

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