Quiet Places

Catty in The Woods, first version

I’m posting two stages of this drawing, which is of a former house cat of my family’s named Catty, and me, sharing one of our more intimate human-to-animal moments.

The top version was my drawing about a third of the way in. A friend of mine, after seeing a photo of the drawing in progress, said she thought it was perfect the way it was. In my mind, it wasn’t done yet, but I still took some more photos of this stage because there was something appropriate about the light valued, ghost-like quality. And, to be honest, I think the finished drawing came out too dark.

I don’t normally work with dark paper, but I really like the absorbancy and texture of these handmade sheets. I’m not sure if the paper is intended for charcoal, or what, but I did have fun with materials in this drawing. I ended up using watercolor, guache and pen, as usual, but I also used colored pencil and charcoal, resulting in some more complex colors.

Here’s a full page shot of the early stage:

EarlyCattyFull

And below is the final, which I still like, but I’m glad I have photos of the early take.

CattyFullPageEdit

Oh, and the story, if you are wondering.

Catty ran away some years ago into the woods. My sister had to give up her three house cats when she moved in with her now-husband, who has an intense cat allergy; my mother felt awful so she took them in. Catty was an already unfriendly stray that my sister had rescued a couple years before that; she’d been found in a flooded window well or something as a kitten when my sister worked as an Animal Control Officer. Rough start, and no reason to trust humans.

For whatever reason, Catty trusted me. I let her hang out with my paints on my studio table, and I was quiet with her. In my room, she could escape from the big farm cat Cleo and my mom’s dog, and general commotion.

When the new cats moved in to my mom’s house, I had already moved away to Philadelphia for school, and Catty had been diagnosed with a heart murmur. I think the changes were too much, and she ran away.

She was little, but a thug nonetheless. I like to think of her as the General Woundwort of runaway and feral cats, feared throughout the forest. But the practical side of my mind knows she’s probably passed on, and her spirit is tiptoeing around the farm’s periphery, finally enjoying her quiet places.

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