Monday, April 30, 2012

The Tale of Painting My Cat
When I saw all those creatively designed fiberglass cats at last year’s “Tail of the Painted Cats” fundraiser, I knew I wanted to be involved this year, not only to have fun painting a four foot high cat, but to help raise funds for this worthy cause.  So when I heard the Cat Care Society was accepting entries, I submitted my design for “Soleil”.

My two rescue cats love to bask in the sun and will follow a little patch of sunshine as it moves up the stairs.  Like my cats, sunflowers also follow the sun, turning their cheery countenances to the warm rays.  This was the inspiration for my design for “Soleil”, the French word for sun.  My submission showed a swirled background of blues and purples, like a rich summer sky, with complimentary colors of orange and yellow sunflowers embellishing my cat’s coat.

Luckily my entry was one of the 18 selected for 2012.  The next step was to attend a meet and greet party at the Cat Care Society for the artists to meet their sponsors, as each fiberglass cat is quite expensive even without artist enhancement!  Gail Tinianow, one of “Soleil’s” sponsors and I enjoyed our chat, and expressed our excitement to see the finished product.  Unfortunately Ann Waite, my other sponsor, was unable to attend.  Given the opportunity to interact with the live cats and kittens at the shelter gave added emphasis to the importance of raising funds to help with the good works that the Cat Care Society performs.  Rescue cats wandered about, as artists, sponsors and staff enjoyed the champagne and desserts and viewed all the submitted designs.

After attending an informational meeting with Jane Dorsey, who organizes this event, I was able to pick up my pure white standing cat and a generous gift card donation from Guiry’s  to help pay for painting supplies.  

 A blank canvas is always a little daunting, but after a coat of gesso, I began slathering on my background colors.  Sponges, brushes, fingers were awash in hues of cerulean, blue-violet, purple and deep red.  Good thing Jane provided us with a drop-cloth!  In fact, the drop cloth will be displayed with the cats, so it can become a work of art too!  And don’t forget the bottom of the feet, they need to be painted too, Jane advised.

Using a close-up photo I took of a neighbor’s cat (sorry Licorice and Cassidy, my two rescue cats), I decided to give “Soleil” a detailed face.  Hoping Jane wouldn’t mind the discrepancy from my original design, I painstakingly rendered the stripes in the fur, the nose, ears, the forehead “M” that all tabbies seem to sport, and after a couple of different eye colors, brought her alive with a little white sparkle in both eyes.  Her personality emerged – she’s a happy cat!

Painting the sunflowers, leaves and stems with a little added gel medium for texture came next, and once dry, a few coatings of UV protectant varnish. 
 “Soleil” was finally finished and ready to be returned to the Cat Care Society, where all 18 cats gathered and were readied for transport to the Lakewood Arts Council’s Community Center and Gallery, where they currently reside in conjunction with the “Cats & Dogs” exhibit of paintings.  Stop by and see them, and go to the website  to participate in the online bidding and follow their travels to various galleries around town.

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