Cats – Drawings by Anita Langham
It’s been a time for clutter-clearing this past week, and as I was sorting through some old sketches, I came across these drawings of cats past and present. Cats tend to hang around when you’re making art – dozing on the painting table, dribbling on the paper, nibbling the paintbrushes – and so they often become artist’s models.
There was Jasper, a large ginger cat, solid and immovable, but so loving. And Tyb, the Prince of Cats, a family pet – a gentle giant who takes furriness to a new level. And my current cat who is a fluffy delight – so much so that she is a real challenge to draw. All that long fur makes it hard to discern and convey the structure underneath (plus she’s always asleep!)
It seems I’m following a long tradition in art here – the French painter Henri Matisse (1869-1954) had two cats called Minouche and Coussi as well as a black cat named La Puce (the Flea). He painted into old age, and although he never depicted his cats, there’s a photo of him drawing from his bed with his cats by his side here
Pioneering Canadian artist Emily Carr (Link)
Emily Carr (1871-1945), a pioneering Canadian artist and writer, had a whole host of animals, including parrots, white rats, and cats, as well as three dogs which were the subject of her autobiographical book Emily Carr and Her Dogs
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) also had a whole menagerie, including macaws, monkeys and a fawn. She was also fond of Mexican hairless dogs (Xoloitzcuintli), whose heritage dates back to the Aztecs. Did you know – over a third of her 143 paintings are self-portraits with her animals? Now there’s an idea for a series.
‘Self-Portrait with Two Monkeys’ – Frida Kahlo
(this was the title online, but surely one of them is a cat??)
And Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) fell in love with chows, sketching, photographing and writing about them. Which surprised me, as I didn’t have her down as the fluffy type.
How about you – dog, cat or something more outlandish? And do you ever draw them, or write about them?