Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter

The Defiant One teaches me about courage
The Defiant One (aka. NASCAR Blondie)

The Defiant One (aka. NASCAR Blondie) #1

I found this quote on the morning after I had made changes to my painting The Defiant One for all the wrong reasons. It seems all too appropriate for a discussion I was having the day before with a friend about the importance or lack of importance concerning perfect drafting skills. I said I didn’t care about drawing correctly, that I thought the character of the drawing was more important. I don’t look for drawing errors when I look at art.  I look at the whole composition and how it works together. And I believe character is key. It is that which expresses the unique feeling whether one draws the cat correctly or not, and that expression of feeling is most important. It is character that turns it into a painting and not a photograph.
On Painter’s Keys the next morning:

​Limitations are an access point for focus, discipline, resourcefulness and the development of voice.

They’re clues to uniqueness and form-style and point of view — requirements of all works of art to communicate and connect. “In abandoning the vagueness of the sketch,” wrote Eugene Delacroix, “the artist shows more of his personality by revealing the range but also the limitations of his talent.” We fear our limitations will define us, yet they’re the hurdles necessary for refinement and courage. They’re the builders of character, and paintings need character. “The greatest progress in life,” said Yogi Bhajan, “is when you know your limitations, and then you have the courage to drop them.” ​

The night before, Blondie’s ears haunted me. I couldn’t sleep. I had already made many small corrections to this painting, but suddenly when I was looking at its enlarged version on my laptop, I saw that the ears were way too large for her head. I had drawn them incorrectly. They were too tall and too pointy. They looked like bobcat ears. Perhaps the devil’s ears. BUT they contributed to the character of her stance. She was excited, riled up, the hair on her rump standing up in anticipation. Blondie waited for her mom to do something, perhaps something Blondie didn’t want to do, and her fierce alert and defiant pose said so.  Okay Mom, take the darn picture, let’s get this over with, okay! I’ve got mice to play with.
Shamefully,  last night I decided to redraw and repaint Blondie’s large pointy ears that gave this painting so much unique character. Truth be told, I was afraid of failure. I’ve never been able to draw with ease. Always a struggle. And I didn’t want anyone pointing out that I was bad at drawing! I lacked the courage to believe in my work. This lack of courage rears its ugly head a lot with me.
Oh woe is me…what’s a gal to do?
I learned a valuable lesson last night, two lessons.
  • One, I am a hypocrite, I say one thing and do another. BAD. I don’t care about the drawing, yet I feel a deep need to make mine look right. What?
  • Two, I learned from the above quote that it is okay make mistakes because the errors work with the whole picture to create character and emotion and draw people in to experience something powerful —whether you as artist recognize it or not—an experience of connection and a wonderment. Oh look how those ears stand up so tall and pointy and don’t they add to the mood of that cat’s stance!
If courage and wisdom had not escaped me, I would have left the ears alone.
Here’s the altered ears. Smaller, shaped better, and more proportionate to her head.

The Defiant One with new ears #2 CORRECTED

They added very little to the total emotion of her stance. So I made the new ears appear more pointy by limning the edges and tips of the ears with white light. Now some of the pointy character is back, but they are not as big. Not as fierce!

​Next time I hope I will be able to control my urges to make it perfect. I claim to not care, but I lack the courage to live with my failures if I cannot do it. I’ve got to let go of that. I’ve got to let go of the idea that my bad drawing means failure—not only in my painting of cats, but also in my landscapes and papiér maché cats. It is, rather, about character and emotion.

Cool Hip Fat Cat
July 10, 2014, 8:38 PM
Filed under: cat paintings, cat sculptures, Confessions | Tags: , ,


While on his date with Blondie she told him she wished he was a little more hip than the old business-like Fat Cat. She wanted not a hot-shot cat making money at risk-arbitrage, but a hip cat working for the good of all catdom. Not wanting to lose Blondie, Fat Cat transformed himself into the coolest hippest fat cat in Florence. Here he is now wearing cool adult sunglasses, no children’s blue frames anymore, a beaded necklace adorned with the popular peace sign strung on hemp twine. He is a cool, peace-loving animal. And with Blondie by his side, he will probably lead his gang to generate peace as they wander the neighborhood.
All you cats constantly growling at each other, quit it!

Besides, if he wants to stay the leader of the gang, he needs to get smarter and bolder and do things wildly different from any other fat cat.

What Hip doesn’t know is that lurking in the mind of his Creator is his nemesis who also wants to be the leader of the Meow Gang.

Really Cool Fat Cat
Really Cool Fat Cat

Really Cool Fat Cat

Really Cool Fat Cat is the leader of the Meow Gang right now. Although, the position may be up for grabs by a male or female cat!

Mikie's Encounter with Cool Fat Cat

Mikie’s Encounter with Cool Fat Cat

This is a photo of Mikie, a real neighbor cat taking a whiff of the sculpture cat. Mike first thinks it may be a real cat, and is a bit intimidated, but eventually decides it’s not worth his time or interest and turns his head away…too late for me to get a shot of Mikie touching noses with the fat cat.

Mikie did the same thing with the sculpture of Blondie. At first, he thinks they are real, and approaches them with caution in slow sloth-like movements, head lowered, tail up in happy hello, but soon realizes the error of his thinking. Jauntily climbs his stairs! He is still the only real cat here…whew, he sighs, that was close!

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