This week’s Colour Me Positive theme is “Smile”. I instantly knew what I wanted to create in my art journal: a Cheshire Cat.
I have always found the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to be pretty sinister. Even when I was wee and had no wider context or understanding of its themes and motifs, I found it creepy. This was in large part down to the fact that my copy of the book had been my mother’s and had some pretty creepy illustrations accompanying the text. It was also somewhat foxed and smelled faintly of mildew. The things is though that what I really appreciate and enjoy about Wonderland is that it is both amusing and scary, ridiculous and terrifying, joyous and creepy. That teetering on an uncertain fulcrum, that tumultousness, that sense of trepidation, is actually what continues to engage me in the book and its themes – though I have not actually read cover to cover it in almost 20 years.
It is the Cheshire Cat who most clearly, to me anyway, represents that sense of pivoting between the zany, wacky fun side of Wonderland and its threatening, intimidating, dangerous underbelly. The Cat seems caring but can be cruel. He is wicked and wickedly fun. He’s a riddler and a trickster. He is chaos. He is an absolutely wonderful creation.
I wanted my illustration of the Cheshire Cat to embody his bright spirit and his darkness so I chose to paint him part way through once of his disappearing acts. I like the way the black makes the candy pink and turquoise paints pop. I think he looks mischievous and manic because of that tooth-filled grin and the wide eyes. I am rather pleased with that. My 10 year old declared this to be my best page in my current art journal. High praise indeed.