Happy Friday everyone!
I hope you’ve all had a good week so far. I have, even though the weather is getting colder…
It’s a great day to be inside drinking tea and writing a blog post. Today’s post is about cats. All about ‘em. My cats, specifically. Luna is even here with me right now, as I write this. I sat down on the couch in my studio and she immediately jumped up and cuddled into her true form: the roast turkey. So I guess I won’t be getting up off the couch any time soon.
I know you’re all really just here for the photos, but while I’ve got ya’s, I’m going to share some of my tips for maintaining a studio practice from home when you have two cats who constantly long to be by your side. As I’m sure you can imagine, the number one problem is HAIR. Or should I say fur? Anyway, it’s everywhere, all of the time, and to maintain a clean workspace is to battle the hair one day at a time. My top two tips: get a shop vac and an air filter, stat. The vacuum will get most of the hair, but whatever it doesn’t catch will be immediately thrown up into the air to float around and to eventually come to rest on your beautiful fresh paint. Depending on what you’re making, it may not be that much of a problem, but let me tell ya, if you’re trying to get a nice evenly blended skin tone on a portrait, that one little hair that’s stuck to your canvas will drive you mad!! This is where the air filter comes in - it will suck up all the dust and floaty cat hairs that threaten to ruin your peace of mind.
Another investment that I highly recommend, especially if you are working in oils like me, is a couple of aluminum turkey roasting trays (seriously). Cats hate aluminum, and I like to work on a huge glass palette with the same paint mixes for multiple days at a time. I use the trays to plop upside-down on top of my palette any time that I walk out of the room to avoid unwanted paw-painting. It’s also safer and healthier for them not to be stepping in my paints as some pigments (I’m looking at you, cadmiums) are carcinogens that can absorb through skin.
To comfort myself when I’ve completely surrendered to the hair, in the past before I had an air filter, I would think about how someday if I’m lucky and the world doesn’t explode, someone someday might take a sample of paint from one of my paintings, notice a hair and decide to look at the DNA under a microscope or whatever technology they have then. I find that idea deeply pacifying for some reason. Maybe it’s just the idea that my paintings could still exist that far into the future even though I know that I won’t.
Before I learned this next trick, I used to lift Luna up onto my shoulder and try to balance her there so that she wouldn’t feel neglected while I painted. She’s heavier than she looks, though, so I’m happy that we came up with this solution together:
So now she has her own stool. Whenever I set up for an afternoon of drawing or painting, I make sure it’s ready with a cushion or a blanket so she’ll be cozy, napping beside me while I work. Butters often takes the couch or the floor if there is a good patch of sunlight. I joke, but Luna is actually a pretty good painting coach/assistant. She knows when I haven’t been in the studio in a while. More than once while sitting on the couch watching TV, I’ve seen her walk into the studio, turn around, sit down and meow at me in an admonishing tone. What she wants is very clear. She wants to me paint.