Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Turkish Panel

I have a beautiful book called Turkish Delights. It's the prettiest book I've ever come across that celebrates the artistic influence of Turkish culture. Each time I open it I'm entranced. I became fascinated with the pictures of the Sultan's Palace, Topkapi Sarayi in Istanbul, and its "Fruit Room" harem painted during the Tulip Reign in 1703-1730. The floral panels of the room are so luscious you wish you could snatch one away for your own bedroom. How I'd love to stand in front of them and see them myself. Well, closest thing I can do is paint my own version...so this is what I'm doing right now. Not a very clear picture of my work in progress but it has to do for now...I shall use lots of thin layers with linseed oil to keep this painting shiny and rich. The purple looking vase should hopefully morph to one of gold inlay eventually, as I keep working on it. Oddly enough I think it has a bit of a Bloomsbury feel to it...can't help it, I went to Charleston in 2005 and the ghosts of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell embedded themselves in my psyche. The loose and carefree flowers and blotchy brush strokes seem to confirm that!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Ozzy and Smudge

Our sweet wee young tabby cat named Ozzy went missing in July 2011, six days after we moved across the island into our new rental. Already a feisty outdoor cat, she was not quite used to her confinement in the new digs when on a hot sunny day with lots of friends around, the door was left ajar. She never returned in spite of our searching door to door, calling her name in the forest, returning to our old house repeatedly, placing signs and notices everywhere. As the weeks mounted on, in spite of the most sincere and vigilent efforts of friends and neighbours to keep an eye out, we began to feel our hope fade.

 ~ OZZY ~

Then, one warm and dark windy evening, as summer itself was fading, a friend called and told us she thought she had Ozzy in her back yard...it seemed possible, yes, the cat was small and fluffy...and our friend's home was within route of our old place.....our hearts raced, we all jumped into the car and whirled over to her yard, and shone a flashlight into the bushes...only to discover an entirely different cat staring distractedly back at us, avoiding direct eye contact, skinny, matted and feral in nature. Still, she trotted happily toward us for a sniff, and didn't try to flee. Her fur, though in awful shape, was ultra silky, soft and long. It had a very smudgy quality to it, a blend of caramel toffee, black and beige in a smeared collage.Our friend owned two dogs and couldn't take her in...so we did. We put up signs, photos and notices, called the local pet find but there had been no reports of a cat of her description missing. I had planned to smudge our new home with sage the weekend we found this  tortoise-shell stray, and since my intention to do so was heralded by the arrival of this appropriately smudgy creature, I dubbed her Smudge. Every day for a week or so after we brought her home, we put butter on her paws, as we had meant to do with Ozzy but never had.  Come what may or may not have, now Smudge is plump and healthy, with a thick puffy pelt, and very affectionate.  She's an outdoor cat, but she knows this is her home. Perhaps, on one of her excursions into the woods, she'll bring Ozzy back home to us. Until then I will try to believe that Ozzy perhaps met the same fate, and is cosily nuzzled in a warm lap in another forest cabin, and that she may show up one day, any day, to take Smudge back to her home too.


Apparently there are quite a few stray cats on Gabriola island...the natural forestland which is relatively free of predators...(well, there are eagles and raccoons, and even a rogue cougar has shown up over the years, but that is very rare)...offers a tempting wander for cats who enjoy chasing little things and climbing trees, sprinting across fields and lapping up rainwater. Many of the people I've met here have taken in stray cats. The local Cat Find folk also have some encouraging stories to tell of cats who have traveled from one end of the island to the other, and some who took months and months to travel full circle and eventually show up on their old stoop. It is very sad when a cat goes missing but somehow, here on Gabriola, there is the sense they have at least been welcomed and even likely sustained by their natural surroundings.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Wanda Gag

There is a dreamy satisfaction and inspiration to be gained from reading the biographies of various artists...as I do I'll share them here. The other night my sister told me she thought I was living the life of Wanda Gag. The quirky name rang a distant bell and I recalled her immediately when reminded that she wrote the book A Million Cats, the oldest illustrated children's book still published in the US (not to say my age has anything to do with my recollection!) I guess it's true...I love to draw as well, we barely make ends meet in our nutty household and yet we fill our home with art, laughter and light, which suits me fine, and also makes for a very enjoyable existence. I looked up some more of Wanda's illustrations and I'm entranced by their magical meanderings.Her work brings to mind a tumbling combination of artists such as  Edward Gorey, Aubrey Beardsley , Gwen Raverat and Arthur Rackham, other favourites of mine. I'm keen to read her biography, hope they have it at the library. Hinting at her feminist and bohemian soul, her striking eyes seem to look at you from the cover of the book as if she has a lot more to tell about her inner life!