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It's a blog, so I'm putting up a picture of my cat

Post #1419 • November 18, 2009, 7:32 AM • 98 Comments

Mezzo, 2009, watercolor, 10 x 12 inches



Lucas Blanco

November 18, 2009, 8:42 AM

That is a nice painting Franklin.



November 18, 2009, 8:55 AM

Yes, real good picture! Color is very good.



November 18, 2009, 9:05 AM

I just posted and it never mad it to the home page.

Very good painting Franklin1 Especially the color.



November 18, 2009, 9:37 AM

A cat Orson Welles could relate to. Watercolor is a great medium. Very nice, Franklin.


Andrew Stone

November 18, 2009, 10:53 AM

You got the nonplussed, cat energy just right and I like your color and handling of the cat and background. Nice little painting.



November 18, 2009, 10:54 AM

Cats don't have energy. Energy is for chumps, like dogs.



November 18, 2009, 12:46 PM

Nice painting, but then I'm prejudiced, liking cats as I do anyway. Better than dogs.



November 18, 2009, 1:19 PM

I must say something on behalf of dogs, the Jack Russell Terrier specifically. Like a cat, mine does not particularly care if you are affectionate with her, or not. But unlike both cats and dogs, what my Jack wants is for you to engage her mind. Just looking at her intensely satisfies her to a point, as does taking her places she can explore, but she especially likes puzzles that, once solved, yield a Cheerio or some such tidbit. Short of that, she enjoys taking things apart. For instance, she likes to skin shrews to release their horrible aroma which she happens to love.

Once she enters any space she has had access to in the past, she will inspect it at the highest speed it can support, usually finding and noting any change that has been made within a couple of seconds. She is also adept at figuring out where I am going and then rushes ahead, not to lead me there, but only to ensure I don't leave her behind, which she hates.

If energy is for chumps, as Jack asserts, then she is super-chump. But having lived with this dog for a couple of years, it is very difficult to associate "chump" with her incredible capacity to pursue her interests and all the intelligence she expresses in the process.


Chris Rywalt

November 18, 2009, 1:20 PM

Cats are okay. I kind of like cats. But there's something wrong with people who really like cats.

I do not understand at all what would possess anyone to paint their cat. But it is a blog, so that explains posting the painting, at least.



November 18, 2009, 1:28 PM

I love it! I miss the trio. I haven't seen them in so long.

The color use gives the piece nice depth.


Chris Rywalt

November 18, 2009, 1:40 PM

You're absolutely right about your dog, John. She is undoubtedly very intelligent. Dogs are much smarter than cats. Cat lovers say cats are smarter than dogs but they're wrong. Cats appear intelligent because they stick to a very narrow range of behaviors for which they've been well-bred by evolution. Aside from those few things, they don't even attempt anything. Dogs appear dumber, at times, than cats because dogs will attempt things for which evolution has not prepared them, like turning doorknobs or solving puzzles. They look stupid because they're willing to fail, and they're willing to fail because they're smart enough to learn.

I once said about cats that they have a brain the size of a walnut. A nearby friend scoffed at me. "A walnut?" he said laughing. "More like two cashews right next to each other!"

Cat lovers say stuff like "Energy is for chumps" because they mistake cats' stupidity and ignorance for an aloof and reserved superiority.

Also, if your cat was big enough, it would eat you. Your dog could eat you, if it wanted, but it won't because it loves you. The only thing keeping your cat from eating you is its tiny size.


Chris Rywalt

November 18, 2009, 1:43 PM

Incidentally, I've never smelled skinned shrew, but my imagining of the smell is stuck in my nose now. Thanks.



November 18, 2009, 1:46 PM

For what it's worth, I was being facetious. I've never had a cat and don't especially want one. I find them attractive visually but not particularly appealing otherwise.


Chris Rywalt

November 18, 2009, 1:47 PM

So was I, to a degree. I just always feel a need to balance out the pro-cat contingent.



November 18, 2009, 2:26 PM

I did have a terrific dog who was the size of a cat, and she was definitely very smart. Among other things, she preferred me to anyone else in the family. She did, however, have some sort of body image disorder. She would chase after huge dogs as if they were mice, evidently unaware they could make very short work of her very quickly. I think they were always male dogs, though, so she got away with it, probably because they figured "It's just a girl," so they tolerated her.


Lucas Blanco

November 18, 2009, 4:19 PM

I think I'm going to deactivate the social software I deployed at painttwits. Who needs anything more than cat paintings and printer talk. Plus I just went over the TOS and I gave me the willies. Too much for too little.



November 18, 2009, 8:41 PM

"IBM Computer Simulates Cat's Cerebral Cortex", but it just ignored them.



Chris Rywalt

November 18, 2009, 8:53 PM

You should write for the Onion. Or at least the Shallot.



November 18, 2009, 10:24 PM

The Reddit thread for that story was funny. "So you get a computer that ignores your commands.....doesn't windows already do that?"


November 18, 2009, 10:50 PM

I seem to have stirred up a hornet's nest with my innocent preference for cats. I have nothing against dogs. They're very nice, too, but a cat is cuddlier & doesn't require being taken for walks all the time.



November 18, 2009, 11:03 PM

Piri, Sounds like you have not seen a real Artblog hornet's nest. This has been a love in.



November 18, 2009, 11:17 PM

Very funny. Note to self: don't design an AI computer that thinks like a cat. Go with the Jack Russell.


Chris Rywalt

November 18, 2009, 11:50 PM

I knew a guy who had a chihuahua he'd taught to use a litter box.


Chris Rywalt

November 18, 2009, 11:51 PM

Anyway, Piri, it's not you, it's me. I'm hostile and inappropriate.



November 19, 2009, 6:51 AM

We're a three-species household around here, human, canine, and feline, and I prefer each of them for different reasons. On some days, the more I know about humanity, the more I prefer the company of cats. Gene Lodgson said something like that about cows.


Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2009, 8:30 AM

We have toads.



November 19, 2009, 9:47 AM

There is a concert by Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge on Wolfgang's Vault where one of the comments reads something like "Coolidge sings like a bird, Kristofferson like a toad". Kristofferson might just be your kind of singer.



November 19, 2009, 10:18 AM

Cows are very nice. Very soothing. Plus you can milk them and eat them. And they make lovely figures in landscape paintings. Much better than cats.



November 19, 2009, 10:50 AM

Hold on Jack, cows can get to you. A friend of mine in Cobden IL bought a calf to raise and, as you note, eat. (He was the director ofthe University Art Gallery at Southern Illinois University.) He named it Cowpernia so he could refer to it as something other than "the cow". He had three acres on top of a hill and Copernia did well on that little plot, keeping the grass cut so that my friend did not have to mow ... and she was "nice". He envisioned getting a new calf every year to turn his grass cutting chore into a source of cheap high quality protein. But Copernia turned out to be too nice to eat. Instead of taking her to slaughter he brought up a bull and bred her. The calf, a female also, he named Memory, though it was supposedly headed to the freezer in her place. Then of course, he could not bring himself to eat Memory either. So he had her bred, and a third cow, can't remember the name, joined his herd. By then he could not walk anywhere on his three acres because they were covered with cow pies that had killed all the grass and he spent enormous sums buying hay to feed his three full grown cows that basically did nothing but eat and poop. But he did not let them have sex anymore. And he didn't have any grass to mow.



November 19, 2009, 11:17 AM

This whole exchange is hilarious. Had me laughing hysterically. What a great way to wake up in the morning!

By the way, what I liked especially about the cat picture is the way it so perfectly captures a cat's soft, furry quality. Something about the blurry brushstroke, I think.



November 19, 2009, 1:32 PM

Well, John, the downside to cows is that they're, you know, bovine. It's not like they can help it. But I still like them. Among other things, they've always proved very useful to painters. People like Cuyp and Troyon built entire careers on them. Sheep are good too, of course, but there's something sturdier and more reassuring about cows. Sheep are a little precious.



November 19, 2009, 1:38 PM

Oh, and your friend shouldn't have used Cowpernia. He should have called her Calpurnia, which is a proper name, though perhaps a bit much for a cow.



November 19, 2009, 2:37 PM

I have a cat who knocks on the door when he wants to get in, Chris. He sleeps half the time, gets fed, and does exactly what he wants all day.

People think cats are dumb because they won't let you train them to do tricks and obey you when you say one-syllable words at them.

There's something wrong with that logic.



November 19, 2009, 3:19 PM

Here's a nice Cuyp, with rather poetic cows:


You could title this "Cows Meditating on the Meaning of Life."



November 19, 2009, 3:27 PM

After my friend's cows took over his yard and garage, he got a baby pig - thinking that pigs are so ugly he would not have any qualms about eating it when it grew up. Then he named it Pigliachi. Need I say more?

Well, one more thing. His wife loved the clicking sound Pigliachi's hooves made when it followed her across their linoleum floors. (By this time they had covered all their floors with linoleum, having realized they were hopeless animal lovers and all animals have "accidents".) Pigliachi was very obedient too, like opie thinks dogs are.


Bunny Smedley (out-and-proud cat blogger)

November 19, 2009, 3:37 PM

Franklin, 'I prefer each of them for different reasons' is a very good line.

Personally I can't handle this thing of claiming to 'like' or 'dislike' whole species. It's like saying one 'likes' music, or people, or, well, art. Which is to say - err, maybe some of it, sometimes, if I'm in the right mood ...

I do like your cat painting, though. It definitely catches something important about how a certain sort of cat occupies space, and the neatness of the shapes some cats make.



November 19, 2009, 3:58 PM

So what did he name his next pig, Pigoletto?



November 19, 2009, 4:11 PM

Of course, there's always Pygmalion, but that's a little obvious.



November 19, 2009, 4:14 PM

My friend in Cobden certainly did not have any bias against any species.

I haven't mentioned it yet, but he also had a girl German Shepherd which we bred to my boy Shepherd (in his linoleum covered living room while drinking - several martinis by us and a gallon of water by my boy who was the original water method man). My friend managed to bring himself to sell some, but not all, of the pups. (After all, no one seemed interested in eating them.)

After the second trip up the hill to visit girl dog my male developed a generalized notion of "hillness". There are lots of hills in Southern Illinois and every time the car went up one he became agitated, squirmy, and would moan and whimper in anticipation of the joy he (falsely) "thought" awaited him at the top. Once we started down the backside, he would settle back down until the next trip up. It took him several months to realize not all hills are the same.

I never had a dog that could generalize like that.



November 19, 2009, 4:19 PM

Here's a Troyon:



Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2009, 5:23 PM

In that book I keep mentioning -- I wish I owned a copy now -- The $12 Million Stuffed Shark, the author mentions a survey done over the works of art sold at auction, how much they sold for, and what characteristics they had. The survey found that, for example, predominantly red paintings always bring more at auction. Nudes are worth more than other figures, female nudes more than male. And so on. You could make a list of rules for salable art based on the findings.

The final rule: No cows.



November 19, 2009, 5:41 PM

Well Jack, there never was a second pig that I know of. Several dogs, a pig, and three cows constituted a kind of self correcting addiction. As in insomnia is its own cure.

The guy did not even own a truck. He had to have all the feed delivered up his steep hill. His yard looked a lot like a finishing pen. Where most people's garages are full of junk and lawn implements his was full of hay. He was a devoted animal owner. Both the mother dog and one of her pups developed hip displaysia and rather than put them down he had both animals fixed through expensive surgery. He paid vets for house calls on the large animals. He kept Pigliachi scrupulously clean. I think he hosed down the cows occasionally too. But he realized when enough was enough. No second pig. No fourth cow. No more dogs.

Your Troyon link leads to a dead end. What happened?



November 19, 2009, 5:45 PM

John, the link works for me, but you could try cutting and pasting this:$L3.jpg



November 19, 2009, 5:51 PM

Chris, your "no cows" rule would have been rather strange news to many a painter, certainly before 1900.



November 19, 2009, 6:00 PM

Jack, copy and paste does not work in IE, Firefox, or Safari. Guess I'll go on living without it.



November 19, 2009, 6:17 PM

John, you can search the collections at the Hermitage website and see the Troyon w/cows.



November 19, 2009, 6:18 PM

OK, John, then go to, put in Troyon in the artist search engine, and when his page comes up, go to the listing for the Hermitage in Russia. That's where the painting (Cows in the Field) is now.



November 19, 2009, 6:31 PM

John, my computer & browser are really antique and I got the Troyon. I like Troyon's paintings. He belongs to that Barbizon-early French landscape school that fell out of favor because everyone liked the pictures when they didn;t like the Impressionists, which was a sure way to fall out of favor.

Boudin, of beach at Trouville & ships in the harbor fame, also painted some pretty good cows.



November 19, 2009, 6:40 PM

Here are some precious sheep. They don't have names yet.



November 19, 2009, 6:45 PM

Notice that I included some examples of the special Texas longneck variety in my depiction, grazing on the hill.



November 19, 2009, 6:47 PM

These are bulls, but close enough. They're by Paulus Potter (17th century), who specialized in cattle and sheep pictures when they were definitely quite marketable:

Potter Bulls



November 19, 2009, 6:49 PM

Well, Tim, I expect John's friend would name one of them Sheepwreck.



November 19, 2009, 6:58 PM

Potter, by the way, died at 28 of TB, but he'd managed to turn out about 100 paintings by then. His most famous work, a life-size painting of a young bull, was one of the best-known Dutch paintings during the 18th and 19th centuries. Here it is:

The Bull



November 19, 2009, 7:00 PM

The figure and the groundplane are a little stiff, but damn, look at the veracity of those animals!

Beautiful work, Tim. (Since I had to look it up, the 23rd Psalm is the one that starts, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.")



November 19, 2009, 7:06 PM

So, Potter was trying to do for bulls sorta what Stubbs did for horses...

Thanks, Franklin.



November 19, 2009, 7:08 PM

Possibly, Tim, only Potter came first. Here's a portrait of Potter by a contemporary:

Paulus Potter


Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2009, 8:30 PM

I'd expect even an Orthodox Jew would know Psalm 23 just from seeing it in movies and stuff. (Orthodox Jews still watch movies, right?)

Excellent work, Tim. Very pious.



November 19, 2009, 8:37 PM

Chris, I certainly hope an Orthodox Jew would know the Psalms, all of them, since they're part of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).


Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2009, 8:42 PM

Duh. I now feel stupid.



November 19, 2009, 8:52 PM

Potter was also an etcher. Here's a sample (click on the image once it comes up; it will enlarge):

Potter etching

He seems to have accomplished a good bit for somebody who died at 28.



November 19, 2009, 9:08 PM

Jack, Potter has me thinking of Richard Parkes Bonington, who died at age 25. His vision was remarkably developed, more so than Potter, I think, though Potter was obviously capable, especially in characterization.



November 19, 2009, 9:13 PM

This is my favorite comment thread of all time.


Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2009, 9:18 PM

I'm a little worried about what that guy with the pole is getting up to in the background of that etching.

I don't know why I'm so brainless today. Maybe staggered by the best thread ever.



November 19, 2009, 9:26 PM

Chris, it's obviously a stick to prod the cows to move along, as in cattle prod. You are, of course, quite hopeless, no doubt related to excessive heavy metal exposure.



November 19, 2009, 9:45 PM

A Potter dog:

The Wolfhound



November 19, 2009, 10:01 PM

Best yet. The composition means business.


Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2009, 10:08 PM

That prod certainly would get me moving, where he's sticking it.



November 19, 2009, 10:26 PM

Chris, "Very pious." I need to KNOW. I don't know shit from Shinola.


Chris Rywalt

November 19, 2009, 11:30 PM

Know what?



November 20, 2009, 12:30 AM

The Cuyp is my favorite cow painting so far. The Potter wolfhound is wonderful, but his Bull painting is too weird. Something about the Bull's genitals (good name for a band) as the focus of the composition, combined with the bored look on the white faced cow. And what is that sparkled eye shepherd doing with his right hand behind the fence? I guess painting livestock was a form of social satire. I'm trying to think of which U.S. senator that cow resembles.

We have a conure and lots of mice at home. The mice are invaders. I've been trapping them, because they're very dirty, but I'm starting to feel like a serial killer. And I'm hiding the Beatrice Potter books.



November 20, 2009, 8:15 AM

Chris, what I meant in #68 is that 'pious' means devout, religious, which I am not, but which the Biblical David who wrote the Psalms was. (Maybe that's what you meant by "Very pious.") My need to know makes me modern, I suppose, but it doesn't get me far because one can't really know, which leaves the option of faith. Thanks for the compliment, BTW.



November 20, 2009, 8:52 AM

nice glass tim.

if a section of the glass does not work with the light as desired, can it be altered or do you need to destroy it and start over?


Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2009, 9:14 AM

The glass struck me as pious. I don't imagine you have to be pious for that to happen. Also, pious can simply mean respectful, and it looks to me as if you approached your work with great respect.

Looking at the image some more, I found I like the way the one sheep is looking directly at the viewer. It's almost defiant.



November 20, 2009, 9:29 AM

Thanks, 1. Sometimes the glass can be altered. I've 'erased' passages of paint on glass with hydrofluoric acid, but it's tedious, and the acid is very strong. It's usually easier to start over, even though that itself is maddening.

I've rarely completed a stained glass panel without having to replace pieces. Here, for example, is a photo of the 'sheep' panel before assembly. The piece of blue-green glass at the bottom is a replacement of a piece which got muddy from too much paint. The replacement glass had not been painted upon when the photo was taken.

I see what you're saying, Chris. I think I approach my work with something more like "Help, I don't know what I'm doing!" If the lightning strikes, I'm grateful, and I can't honestly take credit. It's more like having gotten away with something.


Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2009, 9:37 AM

I've always sort of wondered what causes a stained glass artist to break up the image the way they do. That is, I understand why it needs to be broken up in some way, but I wonder about what drives the choices of where to break it.

For instance, I wonder why the water is split right where that one sheep is dipping its head in. Why not have that one piece all the way across?

As far as feeling as if you've gotten away with something, I wonder if many artists don't feel that way at least some of the time. I look at some of my paintings -- usually a while after they've been painted -- and wonder where the hell they came from.



November 20, 2009, 9:47 AM

"It's more like having gotten away with something"

That's a good description of the feeling when you get something that works.



November 20, 2009, 10:01 AM

Chris, the break in the water where the sheep is dipping it's head in is an instance where I had to accept the terms of the glass, having not been clever enough to have avoided them. If I had made that piece go all the way across, the point where the break is would've been weak and would've eventually cracked under the weight of the glass and lead above it.

In a conventional painted window like the 'sheep' one, I try to place the lead lines so that they disappear. But I have a project in Portland OR (delightful city!) now where there is no paint on the glass, and I use the lead lines as a positive design element, like drawn lines. That is a purer, more essential way to go about things, but I like a variety of applications, all of which feed each other.



November 20, 2009, 11:22 AM

Franklin, I've been wondering what kind of black you use in painting what I assume are aquarelles. Is it mixed, or straight from a tube? In the cat painting, it reads as a positive color.

BTW, the cat has convincing catness, which gets more convincing the more one looks.



November 20, 2009, 11:58 AM

"He seems to have accomplished a good bit for somebody who died at 28."

My ambition is for someone to say that about me, someday... although I'm turning 35 next year.



November 20, 2009, 12:22 PM

Well MC, if you are going to die at 28 you have to hurry and get things done.

David, what is a "conure"? I am hoping I learn a new word today.

Tim, Bonington's vision was more developed and so was his technique. Potter is a little clunky.

Franklin, My favorite blogs were years ago when we were fighting with Dr. B and his ilk. Those were great battles, particularly because we regularly destroyed the opposition.



November 20, 2009, 12:33 PM

Opie, the "opposition" melted back into the throng that ruled and still rules the art world. I'm not sure that constitutes destruction. But those were some very interesting threads.



November 20, 2009, 12:39 PM

Opie, yes, Bonington's technique was, compared to Potter's, swaggeringly confident. Potter looks like he could've been a case of someone who died before he 'arrived.' It makes me wonder if he'd have grown out of the clunkiness you mention.

Come to think of it, though Bonington's work puts one in mind of, maybe, early Turner, Bonington doesn't seem to have come to a theme like his pal Delacroix. I wonder what he'd have done had he lived. Bazille too, though less so.



November 20, 2009, 12:41 PM

Franklin, I've been wondering what kind of black you use in painting what I assume are aquarelles.

Winsor-Newton Blue Black, in watercolor. I just learned that it was discontinued due to its similarity to Lamp Black, so I'm enjoying it while I can.



November 20, 2009, 12:52 PM

I know the feeling. After Hyplar discontinued their Naples Yellow in the mid 1970s, I had withdrawel symptoms for some time.



November 20, 2009, 1:27 PM

Uh, I mean withdrawal.



November 20, 2009, 2:07 PM

As to the "opposition," I'm always somewhat surprised when they go out of their way to fight with people like us, unless it's insecurity or arrogance that can't conceive of dissent. I mean, they control the system; it's not as if we're a serious threat, even if we don't respect them, and the hordes of sheep will always follow what's officially "the way." So why bother with the likes of us?


Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2009, 2:31 PM

I'm going to say, without looking it up, that a conure is kind of a parrot. I want to know if I've got it right.

When I used watercolor, I always used Winsor-Newton. I'm unsure of how blue-black could be similar to lamp black -- isn't lamp black usually made with carbon? Where's the blue come from in that?

Gamblin makes an oil paint called Chromatic Black made from phthalo green and quinacridone red. I liked using it for a while but it's notso hotso for grisalle.

Seeing your various watercolors over the last year or so has made me think about getting back into it, Franklin.


Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2009, 2:32 PM

Jack, you're forgetting the all-important need to correct those who are wrong.


Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2009, 3:33 PM

In the vein of Jack's pots, let's check out this page of woodblock over monotype by Jackie Battenfield (via).



November 20, 2009, 3:53 PM

Battenfield: The freezeframe effect of the photographic imagery stops me. It gives the work an offputting slickness. Her color palette brings Jennifer Bartlett to mind. For me, they don't get past pretty.



November 20, 2009, 3:55 PM

Interesting technique, though, full of possibilities.


Chris Rywalt

November 20, 2009, 5:11 PM

I'm mostly intrigued by the technique, yes. Also, the water motif reminded me a bit of David's furniture.



November 20, 2009, 11:10 PM

This thread's still going? Yeah Chris, I love water surfaces. I like Battenfield's things. Do you know Peter Schroth?. Nice water surfaces in oil. Very well observed.


Chris Rywalt

November 21, 2009, 9:23 AM

I'd never seen Peter's work. Very well observed indeed. I especially like his drawings. Incredible economy with great results.



November 21, 2009, 9:34 AM

I discovered his work recently in a piece on Joanne Mattera's blog on a group show that she was also in. I followed on to his web site. He travels and paints on site. It may be a limited ambition, but it's just the kind of thing I love, with a tension between abstraction, gorgeous brush work and color, and observation of nature. And he does it so much better than I do too, which makes me want to do more.


Chris Rywalt

November 21, 2009, 10:05 AM

I respect people with that kind of focus and work ethic. It's not something I could ever do, but I love having those people around.

I took my daughter to see La Danse, a documentary about the Paris Opera Ballet company. I left wanting to become really, really good at something.



November 21, 2009, 10:40 AM

When I say Peter has a limited ambition, it may just be that he has found what he does best. His resume is pretty respectable and I wasn't referring to that kind of ambition. Finding what you do best is important and takes a lot of work.


Chris Rywalt

November 21, 2009, 11:10 AM

I didn't think "limited ambition" was pejorative at all.



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