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Sooooo Many (Toooo Many) New Angels This Year

Sadness. Three of Skeezix's oldest blogging pals were Lucy, Stevie, and Bitey. Mechanicsburg, PA was their home. Lucy left Mechanicsburg for The Bridge last week.

I was lucky enough to meet Lucy's mom IRL more than a dozen years ago. Through her, I watched her son grow up, and heard stories of her cat-loving hubby who had a tender response when my beloved Siamese, Mao, went on a week-long walkabout.

When I heard that Lucy was gone, there was no question; I had to do a portrait of Lucy for them.

Last night--like most nights--I had insomnia, so at o'dark thirty I went upstairs to my office/studio. I'd already done my portrait blueprint and transfered the outline to canvas. All I had to do now was paint it. I got about 90% of it completed today:

I'm always kind of amazed at how little time the actual paint application takes. But that's because most of my time is spent in the planning of the piece. It's important for me to be able to work out all the details before paint is laid on canvas,

In this example, I did not know what I would do for a background prior to painting. The source photo's background, like a fine pub quaff, was black and tan. The black parts of the cat and her shadows blended in as if they existed on the same plane. Baby Lucy was posed atop her mom's bare hand and forearm in the photo, which made no sense unless it was explained to you what that pink void at the bottom of the painting was.

Instead of posing Lucy atop her mom's palm, I posed Lucy with one of her favorite toys, the pawpular YEOWWW! rainbow. It couples a love of nip with a reference to The Bridge.

I experimented quite a bit with the background. What I ended up with was a complete departure from my usual approach. This one is sort of like fire and brimstone, which to my mind carries through the sense of flames formed by her orange tortie face.

The photo was taken when Lucy was just a few weeks old, still sporting a kitten's slate blue eyes. Leaving them blue would be true to the original image, but she'd spent 16+ years of her life with a tortie's green eyes. That's when I put down the paint brush and took a break. I was moving into my "rumination" phase...the point at which the painting is almost complete but not purrfect and I would need to think over how to solve the remaining problems before executing their solutions. (Green eyes won.)

Part of the cause of my insomnia is my habit of working through creative problems as I drop off to sleep. In that limbo of consciousness the solution often becomes clear. (I just need to remember it the next day when I'm fully awake.) It's not unlike Beth in The Queen's Gambit, who would "see" a chess board on the ceiling and play games in her mind.

So, every night when I lay me down to sleep, my mind goes to work. I mentally review projects I'm working on and any issues that need resolving. When I should be switching my brain's OFF button, I rev it up. Until sunrise.

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