Secret Garden Series -#5 CAT AND FOUL

18 x 24″ watercolor on 140lb Arches Coldpress paper

Happy November! I’m still struggling to get back to a normal life during this crazy 2020 pandemic. Slowly but surely I’m getting there. My kids are back to school –sort of. I’m painting again –an hour here and there. I have rejoined my pottery studio –in a mask 6 feet apart from all the other potters. I’ve fallen in love with a new jewelry concept – But I have no holiday shows to sell them…. Yeah, (eye roll) things are sorta getting back to normal.

I was just checking. I posted my first declaration to create 8 paintings in what I am calling my “Secret Garden Series” on December 3, 2019. Boy, when I made that declaration, I had no idea what the world would look like 3 months later. And yet, here we are. A month from now will be a year. Something tells me I won’t have the next 3 paintings completed by then, but hey, I HAVEN’T QUIT!!! Even though I’ve wanted to ;)

So let’s get to it. Let’s talk some art. With the presidential election tomorrow, it will be a pleasant distraction!

The painting Cat and Foul is my 5th painting in the series:

My concept was to take things I am passionate about and put them all together. Each of these paintings feature: plants, gardening, animals, fabrics, pattern, architecture, a Latin phrase, and a bunch of random objects hidden throughout. If I were to complete this series, there would be 8 paintings that tie together visually and symbolically and they would be fun to glance around to see what you could find.

I haven’t had many pets in my life. My mother definitely was not into it. But as an adult, I have had two cats. Let’s just say I LOVE MY CAT. I credit my cat with teaching me how to be present and give love without any expectations. When my cat slinks by and generally plunks herself down on whatever painting I am working on, I always make it a point to drop what I’m doing, take a deep breathe and hug that little kitty. I feel her purring. I let her rub her slimy little nose on my face, I give her a couple pets and get back to it. That’s my spiritual practice. I bring myself back to the “Now” and I feel blessed to have this little reminder visiting me every couple hours.

So let’s just say I LOVE cats.

I also added a guinea hen because I adore them for their graphic nature. Who can resist black and white polka-dotted feathers? I have a jar of them I’m always adding to.

There is no white paint in watercolor. So you can’t take white paint and make dots on top of the black. You have to take the black paint and paint around every single white dot. This would make your eyes cross, so using a little trick like masking fluid goes a long way in keeping your painting sanity. Masking fluid is similar to rubber cement. Here I painted masking fluid every place I wanted a white dot. Then I painted black watercolor over it. When dry, you rub the masking fluid off and it reveals the nice crisp white paper below it.

Here is a time lapse of how I decided to tackle the painting:

A lot of times I don’t know where I’m going. So I always begin my painting with the things I am most sure about. I knew the plants would be greens and the animals would be browns. What I didn’t know was what color I wanted the walls, wall paper and wall mural. I take baby steps adding one major color or pattern at a time trying different variations before I officially paint them.

Let me list the objects I hid throughout the painting and see if you can find them.

There is: a wooden arrow, moon phases, a key, raspberries, a penny, an alarm clock, a nod to RI with an ocean wave and anchor, Princess Diana’s sapphire ring, and a scurrying mouse. The Latin word Modero means SLOW DOWN. I intended this to be a spiritual message like “stop and enjoy everything around you” but I also thought it was fitting because the guinea hen is wizzing by.

The sapphire has a funny story behind it too. When I was in kindergarten, I used to complain to my mother that I wanted to change my name. “Mary” was just too boring in my opinion. Brushing me off, she told me if in one year, I still wanted to change my name, she’d take me to town hall to change it. Being the little bugger that I was, of course I never forgot. Months later I told my mom I was ready to change my name. She said “Alright, what did you come up with? What name do you think suits you better?” I looked at her with all seriousness and pride and blurted out “SAPHIRE”. She looked at me, burst out laughing and flat out said “Nope -go play!” My six year old self was so mad, but adult me thinks maybe I wouldn’t have made such a great adult Sapphire. My family still gets a kick out of this one, so now I kind of get called Sapphire any ways ;)

The other day, a company was thanking me for using them by giving me a free gift. I could put whatever I wanted on a mouse pad.

I chose this recent cat. In fact, it’s sitting with me as I type right now. You know, it’s the little things, they totally make me smile. I’m enjoying this painting :)

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