January 23, 2011

EDM Challenge 185.

When we bought a house in France we didn’t realize that the purchase price included 15 cats. There seemed to be cats everywhere: snoozing in the shade, under one of the many rose bushes, sitting on the wall blinking in the sun or making a dash for it as we approached.
I had never thought about cats as anything else than pets and had no idea that half-wild or feral cats existed.

It also took a few days for us to understand that this was an enormously incestuous little clowder. Down the road lived a stringy tom who was the granddaddy of them all and who would make his rounds to his harem several times a day. Our own (neutered) cat only watched from a safe distance or came indoors with a disgusted air that said, “I want no part in this”. It was all a little too uncivilized for his taste, I believe.

After the second litter had arrived, I decided that it was time return all the cats and whenever there was an opportunity I would put on ‘the gloves’ hoping that I would be successful at catching cat and putting it in a box to take it three villages down to it’s owners. Every so many days I would make the journey with a box containing a snarling, scratching cat on the seat beside me and show up at their door.

It was a cold, wet and windy April night when I looked out of the window and saw a cat crawling out of the neighbor’s basement and making a wild dash to our side of the road.

When I later went to look in the laundry room that we used as a potting shed, there were three kittens in a corner on a sack, their eyes still closed. This was the litter that stayed, although their Mother Mimi was later delivered to her rightful owners, who managed a sour smile, because I don’t think they really wanted me to return their cats and were wondering when this would stop. Mimi was the last.

My brother adopted the two males and called them Mad Max and Dirty Harry, I kept the little gray female.

In the drawing Dirty Harry and my little gray kitten share a basket. She was with me for 19 years.

Challenge 185: Draw a cat. 
I decided to try the dreaded watercolors again, and ended up using them as I would gouache. Not quite the intention. The paper is 300 gsm, cold pressed Fabriano watercolor paper, which contains 25% cotton. For a brush I used a medium Niji waterbrush.
The watercolor paint is Pelican. For watercolor I prefer a box because tubes of paint can dry out seeing I do so few watercolors. Seeing that the paint isn't really very transparent I must have the box with opaque paint. All Dick Blick.

Listened to "Staying On" by Paul Scott, author of "The Jewel in The Crown".
In this sequel to The Raj Quartet, Colonel Tusker and Lucy Smalley stay on in the hills of Pankot after Indian independence deprives them of their colonial status. Finally fed up with accommodating her husband, Lucy claims a degree of independence herself. Eloquent and hilarious, she and Tusker act out class tensions among the British of the Raj and give voice to the loneliness, rage, and stubborn affection in their marriage.Staying On won the Booker Prize and was made into a motion picture starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in 1979.


  1. love the cats and the story.
    you used the watercolors beautifully!

  2. What a great story about how you came to have your little gray kittie. Nineteen years! You were blessed to have her friendship for that long. Your watercolor painting is very creative. I would never have guessed that you were having trouble with the medium!

  3. Lovely sketch - interesting design. Evocative of the ying-yang symbol, only with cats instead of fishes :) And you are a writer, too ("clowder," what great word usage!)

  4. I also am a lover of your story and watercolor--the way you used them I like---I prefer the box, too--you certainly got a good graphic design look going ....

  5. Lovely watercolour to go with a great story. I love cats, but I limit myself to 4, for exactly the same reasons!

  6. Love the drawing and the story is just too funny, I was laughing reading it, picturing you herding cats (no easy task by all means). I think you did great work on the cats, great angle... And thanks for the laugh, I needed that today.

  7. Beautifully drawn =) well done in complimenting the story and helping the audience to relate

  8. Wonderful painting, and story! We have a similar problem on our street. New babies frequently emerging from the woods. My cat is getting older, well not too old, but old enough to not like fighting anymore, so he runs and hides when he sees them. He's spoiled and hasn't had to be a scrapper just to survive, so I try to help run them off. And by running them off, I mean, I make crazy gestures with my hands over my head, running towards them screaming like a banshee. Yeah, I look pretty ridiculous and I'm often concerned my neighbors will put me on youtube! What I do for my cat!

  9. lovely story and a lovely drawing! i have a cat too, puck, a 1.5 years old little tiger :) i want to draw him too but i cannot get him to sit still :P that is an excuse of course ;p i should try this challange too! :)))

  10. Beautiful drawing and POV (point of view)



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