This week's blog was written by visual artist, Lea K. Tawd.
Before I know what I'm going to paint, I like to prepare my wooden "canvas" with some vivid colors. It makes the wood grain stand out, adds a beautiful background layer to the finished piece, and gives me some time to sit with the canvas and feel out where the imagery will begin.
Sometimes I am lucky enough to find my image right there in the shape of the wood grain. Other times I have to dig a little deeper.
The day I painted "Nine" a few years ago, I didn't have any choice. I had been thinking a lot about my 18-year-old cat, Maya. She was still affectionate, sweet, and relatively happy at the time, but she had a whole range of medical issues. I tried not to think so morbidly, but I couldn't help staring at her whenever I saw her sleeping at my feet just to make sure she was still breathing. The end was clearly near for my sweet little friend who had been my constant companion since I was a sophomore in college. I had never lost a pet in my own care to old age and I felt a little lost in what to do, and sad to think about it. I was trying to prepare myself for the inevitable and shield myself from it at the same time.
She lay heavily on my mind on that day in the studio. Headphones blaring my mind into meditative clarity, I began my ritual wood grain painting. I couldn't help noticing the jagged edge of the grain in clear cat-ear formation. It wasn't Maya, specifically, but it was a cat and it wasn't going away. Not wanting to feel so sad, I tried to push it out of my mind and find one of the peaceful women that I normally paint--anywhere--on that canvas, but none would show their face. I already know from experience that forcing an image never turns out well, and finally I had to admit defeat. I let the sadness crawl in, and the not-Maya show her face. She turned out to be a sort of spirit kitty, an every-kitty, with just the hint of wings on her shoulders.
Maybe this is who Maya is now in the next of her nine lives.
The original painting, "Nine," has been sold, but the print is currently available at Artistic Portland.
Stop by Artistic Portland to see Lea's amazing and soulful work. Artistic Portland is open Monday thru Saturday from 10 to 6 and on Sundays from 12 to 5.