Sunday, 15 February 2015

Curiosity the cat

I don't think anyone would say I was an animal lover! Small dogs growl at me, big dogs try to eat me while cats thankfully just ignore me and I them. Boo! That's why it was strange that my next pastel subject was a cat as I'd always sworn to myself that they were enough people out there in Pastelland doing cats and dogs for me not to join their parade.  

I'd just come back from Caroline's wedding in Manchester where I'd stayed with my brother Noel, his wife Jennie and their new cat, who probably had a name but I've forgotten it already! It was the first time I'd lived at close quarters with one of these self-occupied felines. I got to study 'nameless cat' close up and even, shock, horror started to take photographs of the ginger ninja as it posed in front of the window waiting for his staff to come back from their Saturday morning shopping visit to the Trafford Centre.

Taking photographs indoors is never easy and against the light is harder still. With a bit of Photoshop work I managed to get a decent portrait of 'Puskas' but it sadly wasn't good enough to make for an interesting pastel. Off to Fotolia photo library I tripped again, said hello to Gus, and made my way to the cat section where this lump of a fella with his luminous green eyes fixed his stare on me. I saved that scaredy cat look for future nightmares and hurriedly moved on to more genteel photographs of playful kittens playing with wool, cats trying to catch insects, cats wearing sunglasses and cats sprawled out suggestively on their backs trying to look sexy! I'll give that a miss thanks!

Nothing turned up however. If I had gone in search of an attractive Cat Deeley I ended up with a photograph of this hoodlum green eyed fatcat who had probably taken more than nine lives. I think I'll name him 'Curiosity' for that reason. He was purrfect however and I knew I could make something of him besides stew!

I started just before Christmas 2014 but Curiosity disappeared after a few catty remarks from a friend about the size of his ears. Never mind my feelings, what about the cat's!!! My friend could have whispered his thoughts rather than megaphoned them but he had a point and sadly no-one saw the poor cat for a few days after that. The rumours that he was seen wandering outside my local Chinese restaurant had no substance whatsoever. Neither the cruel people who suggested I had dumped him in the river Lagan or that I'd paid for a cat burglar to make off with him. The truth is I merely placed him in my green recycle bin and had the council refuse men take him away with other rubbish one Tuesday morning. Simples! 

Curiosity 2.0 began the second of his lives when I had to buy more Clairefontaine Pastelmat after the Christmas holidays.


If I thought getting Gus my favourite gorilla's hair unkempt enough was difficult, making Curiosity's fur soft enough was an even bigger problem. It was as if his father was a hedgehog! I had the feeling if I had tried to stroke the cat in my painting I'd have come away with scratches all over my hand. Trying to get the fur pattern the same on both sides was also a whole heap of fun and not one I felt I succeeded in. But I did love his eyes, his cute little nose and grizzly whiskers and that's what prevented me from drowning him and starting on Curiosity 3.0.

In closing I can honestly say that no cats suffered in the making of this pastel, so dear peeps, no complaints to the Northern Ireland branch of the NSPCA. Thank you!

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