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Hello, and welcome to my art blog from Tasmania, Australia. I've spent time as a plant geneticist, teacher's assistant, painter, glass artist and book illustrator. I'm usually in the studio, the classroom or the lab. If you'd like to see more, please try the links to my folio page or email me at silvergumstudio@yahoo.com.au. Thank you!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Millions of cats (well, quite a lot)

I'm practising cats.  They're always good in illustrations, but my memory of cat shapes and movement has faded - so I've been flicking through breeding manuals to remind myself of all the fabulous varieties of cat shape, colour, furriness and character.  Like the old man in Wanda Gag's famous 1928 picture book, 'Millions of Cats', I find all cats beautiful and think nothing could be nicer than a whole hillside of them.  (Did Wanda write this book in order to give herself the chance to draw millions of cats, I wonder?)

Another fabulous cat picture book, which I saved from my grandmother's house and have pored over (haha) regularly since early childhood, is the gorgeous 'Blossom Finds A Home' by Joan Cass (1963), illustrated by William Stobbs.  Using simple, flat printed blocks of colour over stylized dry-brush black and white drawings, Stobbs perfectly captured the different characters - mischievous, gracious, scruffy, pathetic, mean - and adventures of a group of cats living around the docks of a UK seaside town.  I was completely fascinated by the little world he created with barges, fish and chip shops, milk bottles, fried kippers, fish skeletons, cobblestones and bits of rubbish blowing in the wind.  For a long time I was unable to find out anything about this book, but there are now a few copies on Amazon (quite pricey too).  Stobbs, as it turns out, was the head of design at the London School of Printing and Kindred Trades in the 1950's, and won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1959 for his work on two other books.  Well, bless him!  I learnt to draw cats from the Blossom book, and still find myself unintentionally drawing a Stobbs cat from time to time.

Cat, must you scratch?
I'm no match for your claws.
Here, break my string of beads;
Give me fleas. Yawn. Take pause.
Here's a sunpatch sized for you.
Stare me down. Get coy.
Bend me to your will.
Cat, make me your toy.

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