Earlier this year we ran the Cats of Chaos Photo Contest, where the cat from the winning photo would be featured in one of my paintings. Well I finally finished the artwork so here it is. The painting is called "Amazing Stories" and it features a tabby over white cat and a skull deep in conversation while sitting on a stack of books in a candle-lit library.
The featured cat is Macy, and according to her mom, Emily Morris:
"She is the most friendly cat I have ever met. She acts like a dog and she's a huge talker. Macy just meows whenever she meets people and squeaks and constantly purrs when she's getting pet. People who supposedly hate cats take a liking to her."
*Read more about Emily and Macy at the end of this post.
I wanted to capture that friendly and outgoing personality, so I chose to depict Macy in a social engagement. My original idea was for Macy to find the skull in a spooky old attic and to hang out with him there, but the library turned out to be so much more picturesque. I'm glad I changed it.
I ended up aiming for a higher degree of realism in this painting, but it didn't start out that way. The original skull design was cartoonish with a very exaggerated expression. That ended up causing an uncomfortable conflict with the more realistic cat, and I wanted the cat to remain as much like Macy as possible, so I changed the skull. Even without the exaggeration, I hope that the finished piece conveys the idea that the cat is talking to the skull, and that the skull might even answer.
The library obviously has a light source other than the candles, but the candles are there because they help to create a mood. Plus I like painting candles. Designing the dripping wax is almost meditative, although I got a bit carried away on this one. Those candles must have been really tall to have generated that much melted wax.
None of the books have titles, but the fancy 'M' on the bottom book is another nod to Macy. The cat paw print on the top book suggests that it might contain stories about cats, but I suppose they could instead be stories with feline authors. If so I would love to read it.
Part of the purpose of the photo contest was to help me decide if I wanted to take on commissions for pet portraits because I do get quite a few requests. This painting took over four months, from the end of the contest to the day I decided the artwork was done. Emily was very patient, bless her heart, but I myself don't find that time frame to be a reasonable turnaround. I'm happy with the results though, so even though I can't afford the time for commissions right now, perhaps I'll revisit this conundrum somewhere down the road.
About Macy and her Mom
"My name is Emily and I'm Macy's mom! We are both from a small town in New Hampshire and I adopted Macy when she was just a tiny kitten at 13 weeks old. Her ears were bigger than her head! I am currently an undergraduate student at Arizona State University. I am majoring in Justice, as well as Women and Gender Studies. I hope to battle some of the injustices faced in every day life. Some of my interests include traveling to new places, especially here in Arizona, and obviously cats! Cats are incredibly interesting and their behavior never ceases to amaze me. I will furrever be grateful to Annie for this painting!"
About the Author
Annie Dunn is the artist behind Chaos in Color. She's been a digital painter since 2003 and a scrap paper doodler for her entire life. She's kind of nutty about cats, has an odd affinity for skeletons, and likes to watch period movies on Netflix.