My friends are beginning to wonder about my self professed allegiance to the canine community because I seem to be painting so many cats these days. It all began about a year ago when I painted my first victorian cat dandy. Cats are such an interesting subject. Unlike dogs, they resemble each other and it is pretty easy to imagine a generic cat image. Dog breeds on the other hand are so distinctive and you really have to decide upon a particular one when faced with a portrait. Even the typical mutt varies so much in color and size. There is also something so sublime about the expression on a cat's face. They can say so much with so little and there always seems to be a hint of irony in their eyes. This new portrait was motivated by a request from an Etsy customer who wanted to feature the cat portrait in her engagement photos for her up-coming wedding and asked if I had a female version of Cat Dandy. I had been wondering myself why I always seem to paint my animals as males and I think it is less a matter of reverse chauvinism than that of plain old wardrobe preferences. I am so drawn to the simplicity and symmetry of a suit and tie and adore the fancy bows and lapels of victorian times, not to mention the hats. However I thought this request was an opportunity for me to challenge myself and this Lady Cat is the result. I realized that her clothes need not be frilly and dainty, she could, for instance, be on her way to a hunt and so be wearing her best riding attire. I like to imagine her independent and free spirited, not a slave to the wardrobe conventions of her time. In any event my Etsy customer was very pleased and I will share her engagement photos as soon as I receive them.
This cat portrait was inspired by a tiny statue I spotted in Lambertville a few years back. If I remember correctly it was originally a cat inside of a bird house but I imagined it in a more Sylvester/Tweety type of situation. Naturally I had to put the cat in a suit and tie and I also had to be sure that the bird won out in the end. I couldn't bear to think otherwise being such a bird lover myself.