Tag: tortoise shell cat

“Night Fishing with a Cat Named Antibes” – A Narrative Cat Portrait of Sorts

Painting by artist BZTAT in tribute to Picasso's painting "Night Fishing in Antibes"

One could argue that all art is serendipitous in some way. No matter how well planned out an artwork might be, there is always an element of chance that brings about a surprising outcome. Some artworks are more serendipitous than others, though.

Such is the case with my recent painting, “Night Fishing with a Cat Named Antibes”.

I created the piece for a show that I curated at the Massillon Museum in Massillon, OH. For my parting act of a two and a half year stint working at the Just Imagine Gift Gallery in Canton, OH, I coordinated the “Artist to Artist” project that resulted in a fascinating display of artwork from various artists in the community.

The “Artist to Artist” exhibit paired noted professional artists in the local community with nontraditional artists from the Just Imagine Gift Gallery in a unique collaborative arts experience. The Just Imagine Gift Gallery is an arts program offered by Twi that empowers adult artists with developmental disabilities to explore their artistic talents. Although they are not as well known as their counterparts in the exhibit, these creative individuals are true artists with amazing talents. 

I have long thought that the artwork from the Just Imagine artists could hang next to that of any other artist in town and hold its own. This show proved it.  

Over a span of a few months, professional artists met with JI artists, and they studied each other’s works, learning about each other’s techniques, styles, subject matter, and purposes. They shared ideas and inspiration. Then they returned to their separate studios and created new artworks, each inspired by their encounter with the other.

I was one of the professional artists as well as the curator for the project. “Night Fishing with a Cat Named Antibes” was my piece created out of the experience.

My paired artist, Scott, creates colorful paintings full of whimsy and narrative storytelling. He also draws heavily upon references to Picasso in his works, and he often has leaves playfully placed throughout his landscaped compositions. I wanted to incorporate all of those influences into my artwork. It was a challenge. My works tend to be snapshots in time with simple shapes and composition. Adding narrative, references to Picasso and a more complicated composition pushed me to a different level.  

I channeled Scott’s fascination for Picasso by studying two of the master’s artworks. First I looked at a painting Picasso had painted of a cat, (of course I HAD to paint a cat!), and then I looked at one of my favorite artworks by the artist, “Night Fishing at Antibes”. I looked at many of Scott’s paintings, as well. I created a fantasy-like landscape, as he often does, and I added many leaves, fluttering about in the painting, in the same way that Scott often paints in his paintings. 

The cat is a bit different than my usual fare, as I added the Picasso-esque style. I made the cat with tortoiseshell markings, because torties have natural Picasso-esque faces. I also added textural elements to make the piece come alive. The title is a play on words with Picasso’s painting title.

Now for the serendipitous part. On the day before my last day working at Just Imagine, a strange sequence of events occurred that, completely by chance, brought the painting around full circle.

Early in the day, I had stepped outside to greet a coworker who had stopped to pick up my mail. As we talked at the curb, a man came from across the street and said, “Excuse me, but a cat just crawled up inside your van’s engine block.” We went to the van and opened up the hood, and I crawled underneath to see if I could see a cat. I could not. As we walked back to the building, however, a woman on the sidewalk said, “That cat just ran inside.” I had left the door open, and apparently the cat saw an opportunity.

My coworker and I went inside, and we looked and looked, but we could not find a cat. I began to believe that this whole cat tale was a myth.  But when I came in to open up the next morning, which was my last day there, I heard, “Mew! Mew! Mew!”

A cat named Antibes
Antibes in the Just Imagine back room

All day, we heard the mewing, but we couldn’t see the cat. Finally, I moved some things around in the area where the mewing was coming from, and a brownish ball of fur shot out like a rocket! The cat scrambled around the studio floor, and it found its way to the back room. I got a look at it, and SHE was a beautiful little tortie girl that LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE THE CAT I HAD PAINTED THE PREVIOUS WEEK for the “Artist to Artist” exhibit!

Ending my work at Just Imagine was very hard for me. Working with that amazing group of artists was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The last thing I thought I would be doing on my last day there was chasing a cat around the studio. But serendipity happens when you least expect it.

I have many wonderful memories from working at Just Imagine. And now, purely by chance, I also have a Cat Named Antibes, whose portrait I painted before I even met her. It certainly was a surprising outcome that has taken me on a whole new adventure.

A Cat Named Antibes - BZTAT
A Cat Named Antibes

Life is an Adventure!




Crazy Cat Ladies Rock! Slick's Story

Contemporary Tortoise shell cat painting by BZTAT
“Slick” -acrylic painting by BZTAT

I have always loved tortoise shell cats. When Slick found her way into my life 17 years ago, that love found fulfillment.

She was the “baby” back then. Now she is the matriarch in the family. She has renal disease, but is mostly asymptomatic, and she is in pretty good shape for her age.

Tortoise shell cat on bed
Recent photo of Slick, the Queen of Comfort

I wrote about Slick’s story back in 2009. I don’t think I can improve upon it, so I thought I would share what I wrote back then. What follows is a reprint from a post that I wrote on 6/27/09.

Slick came into my life in the summer of 1995. A small oil spill caused by a pipeline rupture had filled the Tuscarawas River near my home with black oily goo. I volunteered with the wildlife rescue for the spill, as many ducks and geese were harmed by the oil that invaded their habitat. Along with the wildlife, the rangers also brought in a calico kitten who had been romping along the riverbed.

I already had two cats at the time, Beezie (read about Beezie here) and Bub. I had no intentions of taking in any more cats. But there was something about this little kitten…The rangers thought that she had oil on her because of the black patches in her fur, but that turned out to be her natural markings. She did have an injured paw, though. I was concerned that she would not be saved if they took her to the Humane Society. The local HS was a fine organization, but was overwhelmed, and not likely to treat an injured animal.

I made the mistake of putting my hand in the cage that held the kitten. She purred and loved on me so sweetly,  there was no way this cat was going to the Humane Society. The rangers gladly allowed me to adopt her. She was named Slick after the oil spill, and she has been with me ever since.

A minor surgery fixed her paw, and Slick quickly took over my home. She and Bub became friends quickly, and they were best buds until Bub went to the Rainbow Bridge in 2004. Beezie never quite warmed up to her, but she tolerated her, much the same way that Slick tolerates Brewskie today.

Two cats in rocking chair Slick and her best pal Bub

Two cats in rocking chair

Slick tormenting Beezie

Slick became an indoor-only cat at my home. She was pretty wild at first, and obviously missed climbing trees. She loved to climb up on high things like the refrigerator, kitchen cabinets and curtain rods. She has always been a silly character, doing kooky things. She settled down somewhat after a couple of years, but she continues to enjoy high places. She still gets the zoomies now and then, and she is still kooky. She loves the nip and gets drunk as a skunk whenever she partakes.

Tortoise shell cat on cabinetsSlick pretending the cabinets are a tree

Slick has always been a great cuddler, and her short tortoise shell colored fur is very soft. Brewskie gets very jealous when she and I cuddle.

I always considered Slick to be my baby. She was younger than Beezie and Bub, and she always just acted younger. Things changed, however, when Beezie went to the Rainbow Bridge in 2003 and Bub in 2004. She and I were both lost without our other pals. She especially missed Bub, with whom she was particularly close.

I knew that Slick would need another companion, as I was often gone for most of the day. A friend directed me to a family that had newly born kittens, and I brought home Noah. Noah proved to be a bit too aggressive for Slick, so I brought home Brewskie to redirect him a bit. Now Brewskie is best buds with Noah in much the same way that Slick and Bub had been. My mother’s cat named “Who” joined us in March 2008 when Mom had to go into a nursing home.

Tortoise shell cat on bedSlick and Brewskie

Although I got the others to keep her company, Slick has never really forgiven me for bringing these monsters into her home! She has always treated them with disdain. Brewskie, knowing that I always protect Slick when he or one of the others picks on her, gets especially jealous when I cuddle with her. He seems to think that I favor her.

I love all my cats dearly. But the Brew maybe right. I do sometimes show Slick special attention, because of our history and because she is so much older than the others. Can you blame me?

And that is the story of Slick.

Tortoise shell cat on bed
Tortie Toes