“The Wolf and the Moon” (A Halloween Cat Painting)

“Even a man who’s pure in heart

and says his prayers by night,

may become a wolf when wolfbane blooms

and the autumn moon is bright.”

– Curt Siodmak

I have always been partial to black cats. It’s as simple as that.

The first cat I ever had the pleasure of being friends with was a beautiful, jet-black girl named ‘Cindy’. My parents took her in as a stray, as she apparently just showed up on their door one day and decided this was her new residence. My mother named her because she was as black as cinders, and Cindy seemed like an appropriate name. She was with us from the time I was three years old until I was sixteen, and part of my childhood that I am sure impacted me in a positive way for the rest of my life.

I have been owned by several black cats since then. We had an alley cat that visited and was ours for a short time named “Priscilla’. In University I had a beautiful, sleek boy named “Frederick” (after the composer Chopin, as I was studying classical music at the time he chose me as his mom), and my lovely Grande Dame of over sixteen years, my beautiful Coco (Chanel). Coco had chosen me when I visited a shelter when I first came to Canada. She followed me through the two-story building filled with over fifty cats and made sure I would notice her. I always said if she were able to dance a soft-shoe and sing a song using a hat and cane, she would have done so in order to convince me to choose her. It must of worked, because as I write this post, she is sitting across the room on my daybed here in my studio, a little bit more grey than black in areas, but still my sweet, loyal girl. She is probably the most gentle kitty I have known.

Just about three years ago, another beautiful black kitty crossed my path. One day he just showed up from behind the old, decaying barn at the property were were previously renting. I looked out one summer morning and there he sat – looking handsome and regal. It was as if he were considering his options. Would this be a place he would like to stay?

Certainly he had a home. He was long-haired, neat, and shiny. Someone ‘had’ to own him. But who in their right mind would allow such a beautiful boy out and about in the dangers of the woods and country? I know people do that a lot where I live, but coming from Chicago, I have seen many cats meet their end both by chance and the hand of others. My cats will never be ‘outdoor’ cats.

To make a long story shorter, this went on for months. He showed up nearly every day and came a little closer as time passed. Soon I began to feed him and found he was ravenous. I began putting word out in my cat network and on Social Media. Winter was approaching and there was no way I was going to allow this little panther to spend it out in the cold. I remember being so concerned on Halloween of that year, as there are so many stories of cruelty towards black cats in particular on that day. When November 1st came along with plummeting temperatures, we took action and lured him into our home. I was so grateful to see him back, and within several days he came in on his own four feet. We have come to call our home his “Hotel California”. (He could check out but could never leave.)

The rest, as they say, is history. I could write several blogs telling his story of how over the past three years he has come to love being an ‘inside cat’ and has stolen our hearts. But that is for another day.

Here is probably the last ‘outside photo’ we took of him before he joined our family for good:

He came as far as our porch, just a few feet from the door. He was telling us that he was ready to come in.

We chose to call him “Wolf Blitzer”. Actually, my partner Keith chose that name. I had initially called him “Licorice” because of his beautiful color, but Keith said it was a ‘sissy name’ and thought that the name “Wolf Blitzer” suited him better. Not because of any affiliation for the CNN broadcaster, but because he had HUGE fangs. Plus the name sounded tough. And he must have been a tough boy to survive in the wild as he did. While he kept his fangs shielded most of the time, it didn’t take much to see them peeking out. They made him look – well – ‘wolflike’ and very handsome to boot. So the name stuck.

Wolf Blitzer has been the subject of my artwork before. I did a nice oil pastel of him last year that I am very pleased with. I love the way his highlight of his fur look brownish in the sunlight. His face shape is beautiful, too and it is a pleasure to paint or draw him. He is the purr-fect model.

A couple of weeks ago I saw an acrylic painting pattern by designer Peggy Harris called “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

Peggy has long been one of my mentors, and I have probably learned more from her than any other teacher regarding painting and color theory. I had purchased this pattern from her long before we became friends on Facebook, with the intention of creating it in acrylic paint as she teaches it. (You can get the pattern as a PDF download at her website and see her other lovely patterns at www.peggyharris.com. )

I love the way Peggy’s patterns teach using ‘traditional’ color names. She is a classic artist and it shows in her work. She uses a limited palette of ‘basic’ colors that are mixed to make any tone imaginable. This allows one to create her designs in just about any medium possible very easily. By using her basic colors and instructions, I have learned to translate her designs to any medium I wish – be it pastels, watercolors, pencils, or paint. I owe a great deal to her as a teacher for offering things up this way, as it opened an entire world of art to me and over the years has encouraged me to explore many of the mediums that I now use.

When I saw this design (again) I decided that I would try to do it using soft pastels. Seeing the shading of the moon as well as the cat seemed to scream for pastels. I had recently finished my vulture using soft pastels and wanted to soft-step into doing something else with this medium. I have been busy and life has been full, and I wanted to create something that I wouldn’t have to think too much about. Following a pattern was just the thing. Although instead of her Persian-looking kitty, I thought it would be cool to use Wolf Blitzer as my subject. It seemed like a natural thing to pay him homage (once again!)

I used Anthracite coloured Pastelmat paper at about an 11″ x 17″ size and filled in the background and ground cover with some dark and mystic tones:

The moon came out beautiful so far, and I knew I was on the right track. The crystal ball was a little tricky, as the dark and light pastel colors had to be applied very carefully so not to make them muddy. I even added a bit of silver metallic pastel on the ball to make it look glass-like.

Wolf Blitzer frequently came in to critique my progress:

The pressure was really on . . . šŸ˜‰

I then added the fluffy tail and refined the shadings and highlights. Finally, I added in the bats. This was nearly a disaster, as the pastel was filling up the tooth pretty much and the deep, yellow moon was not accepting the black for the bats very well. I wound up using my Tombow Mono eraser and pulling off the pastel where the bats were to go and then I was able to lay down the black and cover it completely. The result was pretty good. I was able to finish up the bats without much black smudging on the moon:

I nearly forgot his ‘fangs’. But Wolf Blitzer sternly reprimanded me and I was able to add them in at the end.

Overall, I am very pleased with the result. I could keep picking on it and adding things in, but I feel that at this point, it looks really nice and I will be calling it ‘finished’.

I am sure that you all will see additional artwork modeled after our Wolf. It is difficult to look at him and not see his beauty.

It is said that one owns a black cat in order to ‘caress a panther.’ How can we deny that when we have such a beautiful, smart, fun, cat that looks like a wolf? We are certainly grateful he chose us for his forever family.

I hope you all enjoyed seeing this piece come to life and also reading Wolf Blitzer’s story. I hope it is an inspiration to you to try something a little different – even if you are working from a pattern. There is nothing to say that you have to follow the instructions exactly. Most teachers that really want to see you learn encourage others to follow their own inspiration. It is from those that I feel I learn the most.

Until next time . . .

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Olivia says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Olivia! šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara says:

    Lovely! We had two black cats, Marius and Eponine, brother and sister. As you said, both we wonderful, gentle kitties. We lost Marius at 16 and Eponine stayed with us for 20 years! Still miss them terribly. Love your painting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wolf definitely has personality! Love the painting- and Iā€™m sure Wolf approved of it too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful kitty and picture. He looks just like our kitty Spirit. Sadly Spirit has passed, but we have fond memories of her.

    Like

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