Pale Girl

This blog has gone a little dormant generally. What with the pandemic and all, I just have not been up to enough in my life that generates blog fodder. This blog has, however, gone especially quiet when it comes to my art dabbling. That is not for the lack of art in my life, however. On the contrary, I have been drawing near daily since June. I have been sharing the results of a personal challenge (illustrations of vintage photos) and now Drawlloween drawings over on my blog that is dedicated to only art. Since all of my art time has been invested in those projects, art journaling has been placed so much on the back burner that it is stone cold. While I intend to take a break from daily drawing, I am going to return to art journaling in order to keep up with regular practice and stop those creative gears seizing up from rust.

Draw This in Your Style (DTIYS) challenges on Instagram seemed like a good way to get back into playing around and experimenting in my art journal. The subject matter and composition is all set for me so I just need to – like it says on the tin – draw it in my style. I thought I would have a crack at a recent art work by Behemot titled “Pale Girl and Very Suspicious Cat”, not least because the monochromatic palette appealed to me aesthetically and in terms of time management. I am pleased with my version of the Pale Girl. I think my illustration shares DNA with the original but is very clearly my style. It is a fun challenge to translate digital art into analogue so I am going to seek out a few more of those I think.

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The Three-Legged Cat is Three

Last week was Satchi the cat’s third birthday.  To be more precise, it was his honorary birthday which the boys decided should be held on his “Gotcha Day’, the anniversary of the date we adopted him a year ago.  He celebrated with tuna for dinner and even more cuddles than usual.

He has changed so much in a year.  When we adopted him, he had just had his leg amputated and was very unstable in his movement.  He was also underweight and, while friendly, wasn’t that sociable.  Now he is a healthy weight, possibly even a little plump, and super fluffy and manages just fine with three legs.  While Satchi is still not a lap cat, he has become much more sociable, seeking us out for cuddles and affection, and cuddling up on one of our beds each night.  He also has an adorable relationship with Peanut.

We really lucked out adopting two cats who are the best of friends.  Our cats are just the best.

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Peanut’s First Birthday

When we adopted Peanut in February, we were told he was three months old.  This gave him a November birthday.  The boys – particularly my youngest two – were very keen to celebrate Peanut’s very first birthday so they organised a little celebration party for him.  Peanut and Satchi shared a can of tuna, a special treat for them, and the humans got to eat some carrot cake.  It was sweet to see the kids making such a fuss for their cat’s birthday.  I cannot believe how much Peanut has grown in the nine months since we adopted him.  He is almost big enough to fit his ears now.

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Smile like a Cheshire Cat

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.

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The Owl and the Pussycat

Last week’s Colour Me Positive prompt was on the theme of Courage.  While the theme and the supporting quotation failed to spark any creativity in me, the optional prompt to incorporate a boat did.  For some reason, an echo from childhood reading and singing perhaps, the first thing that popped into my head was Edward Lear’s poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’.  I drew around a side plate in pencil to provide me with a circular frame and then I drew the characters and their pea green boat in ink in a fountain pen.  I used watercolour pencils to add colour.  Simple.

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A Portrait of Satchi and Peanut

The week 17 Colour Me Positive theme was Friendship and I decided to just work with the broad theme rather than the more focused prompts.  My inspiration was my two cats, Peanut and Satchi, because we Picts are all ever so relieved and glad and thrilled that they have formed a close bond with each other and are firm friends.  My kids have been asking me to create an art journal page inspired by our furry family  members so the time had come to do so.  Short on time, as ever, I did a quick ink illustration and coloured it with watercolour.  So here it is, my first portrait of Satchi and Peanut, our fluffy tripod cat and his accomplice, the one we call Peanutter or the Ginger Ninja with good reason.

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Cat Companions

Having blogged about the introduction of Peanut to Satchi, I thought I would update on how things stand just over a month later.  In that previous post, I was hopeful that they would become friends and I am happy to report that that is indeed the case.

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The two cats are chalk and cheese in many respects –  one slow and limping; the other speedy and agile; one large, chubby and extremely fluffy; the other tiny, sleek, and slinky – they seem to work very well as an Odd Couple.  At first they seemed to set out separate territories, chilling out in different rooms, giving each other plenty of space, but gradually I found that more often than not I would come home and find them curled up together on the sofa or snoring away on the same bed.  They are also very playful together, playing chase, wrestling, playing hide and seek, more rough and tumble wrestling.  A few weeks ago they even started grooming each other which was sweet.

They are good companions.  I think they love each other.  We are so relieved.

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Spider-Cat and the ’70s Wallpaper

Other than our “vintage” bathrooms, by far and away the renovation job Mr Pict and I most dread and which we will probably procrastinate over for at least an eon is the wallpaper in the master bedroom.  This is no ordinary wallpaper.  This is 1970s grass wallpaper, all murky browns and hairy texture and all adhered to the wall using the toughest glue imaginable.  That would be quite horrendous enough but the previous owner had wallpapered every single surface in the room: every wall, every door, the light switches, and the air vents.  It is like being in a forest of hairy wallpaper and not in a cosy fairytale either.  We console ourselves with the fact that at least it was 1970s brown that was chosen and not bright magenta.  That would be much more difficult to live with while we decide how to problem solve the wallpaper horror.

So we hate the wallpaper in our bedroom but it turns out we know someone who loves it: Peanut the kitten.  Peanut is mischievous and likes to explore.  He likes to do parkour using our furniture.  Turns out, he also loves to scale walls that are covered in hairy 1970s wallpaper.  To Peanut, our bedroom is essentially a really large scratching post.  The first time I discovered this new activity of his, I saw it out of the corner of my eye and thought I was imagining things.  But, no, my cat was scaling the walls, Spider-Man style, and was then shuffling around the ceiling level of the room like a Bat-Crab.  If Bat-Crabs were a thing.  Maybe Peanut will somehow manage to remove the hideous wallpaper for me.

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PS I still don’t have a working camera (*sob*) so that is my explanation for the cruddy phone photos.

A Tale of Two Kitties

We did not make it to two weeks before introducing the cats to each other.  It was becoming too much of a challenge to ensure that the boys, going in and out of their bedroom, were keeping Peanut sequestered and Satchi had also worked out how to open the door.  Since Peanut’s sutures had healed, we decided to start the process of letting the cats get to know each other, initially held by us and in short bursts and then for gradually longer periods until we decided we could let Peanut have the same freedom to roam as Satchi has.

The result has been quite interesting.  The two cats – one three legged and fluffy and one tiny and sleek – constantly stalk each other, tracking, hiding, pouncing.  There has been a great deal of wrestling and tussling.  It was a bit troubling at first, seeming to suggest that they would not get along, but teeth have not been bared, claws have not been out, and there has been very little hissing.

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They do have their properly friendly moments too.  I caught Satchi licking Peanut’s fur the other day (unless he was just sampling the taste of him by way of an appetiser?) and they have been sharing – mostly food (to Satchi’s scoffing advantage) but also toys and the cat tree.  I like to think this all bodes well.

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Presently, however, they mostly give each other a wide berth and do their own thing in their own spaces.  Satchi has always liked tucking himself away anyway which leaves Peanut plenty of scope to be permanently attached to a human.

Only time will tell if we made the right decision giving into our 8 year old’s plea and adopting a second cat.

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The Persuasive Letter and Peanut

Ever since we adopted our three-legged cat, Satchi, the boys have been wondering when we might adopt a second cat, a buddy for Satchi.  Our original plan had been to adopt two cats at once but that, for various reasons, did not pan out.  We wanted to give Satchi time to adjust to being a tripod, get stronger with his mobility, and generally settle in before we introduced another cat.  I began to ponder whether Satchi might want to be an only cat….

Then my 8 year old was taught persuasive writing at school as part of a unit of work on modes of writing.  He came home with this letter.

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It was a plea for a second cat.  Another cat would be company for Satchi, there would be more cats to share around between Pict family members, and it would multiply the fun in the house.  It was pretty well argued, expressed with clarity, and heart-warmingly cute.  Ugh.  How could we say no?

Mr Pict and I chewed it over for a few days and then we caved.  Persuasive writing education won out.  Along with they puppy dog eyes of four kids.

We went along to another pet adoption event run by the same organisation from whom we had adopted Satchi.  As soon as I walked in, I spotted this tiny little scrap, a wee ginger kitten.  We knew, from discussions with the vet, that we had to have a cat who was also male and was younger than Satchi.  Bingo.  And incredibly he was still available!  The place was pretty packed but nobody had put in the paperwork for this adorable wee furball.  We spent some time with him, checked all his paperwork, and – woohoo! – he came home with us.

He came with the name Peanut and, just as with Satchi, we decided he should keep his name.

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We have to gently introduce Peanut to the household and keep him and Satchi separate for a couple of weeks.  The youngest kids are delighted as it means Peanut is permanently resident in their bedroom and he is proving to be a snuggly wee thing.  My oldest son thinks he looks just like an ancient Egyptian cat and he is being treated like a tiny wee Pharaoh.

Less impressed with this new arrangement of small kittens behind closed doors is Satchi.  He wants in to meet Peanut.  He likes to hang out outside the room and sniff under the door, where Peanut is sniffling and snuffling away on the other side, and occasionally the tips of their paws meet.

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I think so far they are mostly curious about each other but I would be lying if I said I did not have some trepidation about how it is going to pan out when they first meet.  Watch this space.

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