cats


A few months ago, I decided to stop uploading duplicate blog content to this account (to appease the almighty Google gods). Although WordPress.com was my initial launching pad into blogging, I transferred my attention to TaraFlyArt.com once the WordPress platform was up and running… and I didn’t have enough spare creative energy to write original posts for both sites.

However, I feel badly for abandoning the remaining subscribers of this blog… and while I encourage anyone who is interested in my work to pop over to my “Other” blog and re-subscribe (for semi-timely updates)… I have, in fact, come up with a solution for this albatross blog as well.

Taking a cue from one of my favorite bloggers, Kathleen Basi, who writes a weekly summary of her recent posts called “Sunday Snippets”…. I’ve decided to write monthly summaries for my content on TaraFlyArt.com. 🙂

So here is a recap for October….

Regency Cat Art Prints and Greeting Cards

5 Tips From a Procrastinating Cat Artist

October 11th, 2011 – I shared some awesome news regarding a wholesale order for my Regency Cat greeting cards and prints. MuttsandFrutts of Ontario, Canada is an upscale pet boutique located in the popular tourist area of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The owner, Lisa, contacted me about ordering a large quantity of my cards (which I print and fold individually at home)… and my work load went into overdrive.
Through the stress, excitement, and the unexpected, I learned some lessons about Being Prepared… including:

  1. Purchase More Supplies Than You’ll Need
  2. Always Have Inventory On-Hand
  3. Have Every Size, Shape, Color, and Available Option Listed

Serious lessons for a gal who always waits until she’s down to 3 sheets of paper and 1/8 of a yellow ink cartridge before re-ordering supplies.
I wouldn’t have lasted long as a Girl Scout. 😛

TaraFly with AfriCat Painting for charity

Picture of me standing under my AfriCat painting, top center.

AfriCat – An Art Auction for Charity

October 17th, 2011 – I stopped by the local art supply store, Howards’ Arts and Frames on Dual Highway, on October 1st, after seeing their announcement for the 6th annual “Art for the Animals” charity fundraiser.

Each year, they’ve asked area artists to donate artwork (which Howards’ will frame) for a silent auction to benefit animal charity organizations. The last couple of years they’ve supported the local Humane Society. This year, they chose to assist Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

I missed the deadline to enter last year, and didn’t want to miss out on this year’s opportunity to showcase my work locally (and help animals too!)…. but I was almost too late!
The original deadline for entries was Oct. 1st – the same day that I inquired, and I had nothing to offer (as they were accepting only 5″x7″ portraits on canvas panels). However, they generously extended the deadline a couple of days, and I rushed home to work on a fresh new painting… specifically for the auction.

My resulting piece was titled “AfriCat”, inspired by National Geographic photos of African tribal women wearing hundreds of brightly beaded necklaces.

[Update: The final night of bidding ended with AfriCat being sold for $40.00, and announced as 1st runner-up for People’s Choice in her category]

Art for the Animals, hosted by Howards' Arts and Frames

AfriCat Painting Video

October 24th, 2011 – With the charity auction ending on the 26th, I gave everyone a brief update on AfriCat’s bidding status (she was holding steady at $26.00 on Monday night, and sold for $40 on Wednesday).

I also edited 3 hours worth of video that I’d taped of myself in the studio, painting AfriCat… condensed it down to approximately 20 minutes, split between 2 videos which I’ve uploaded to YouTube.

AfriCat Painting Video: Part One

AfriCat Painting Video: Part Two

And there you have it! All three of my blog posts for October, in an easily digestible format.
Let me know if you found this summary helpful, okay?

But once again, if you want to catch my blog posts when they’re still alive and kicking, I encourage you to visit my “real” blog on TaraFlyArt.com….
Thank you for lending me your eyes! 😉

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The Cat Who Created the Universe
(Originally published July 13th, 2011 on TaraFly’s art blog)

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”
~ Genesis 1:1

To hear a human tell it, you’d think it was in fact The Beginning… but what do silly humans know?

But in all honesty, the heavens and earth were created simply because Samson had spent entirely too long waiting for his lunch.

You see, the omnipotent Creator – a self-serving title if ever there was one – dwelt with a black and white tomcat named Samson.

Samson was well-mannered.   He didn’t spray the edges of the cosmos (which would be gross, considering the lack of gravity), nor did he attack Jehovah’s wiggling toes while He rested, and he even refrained from sharpening his claws on the Throne of Judgement… although he did shed a few hairs upon it, but that was to be expected from such a fluff ball as Sam.

Samson was also patient and longsuffering, which served him well as the Pet of God… since his Master was usually busy in business meetings with angel investors, and seldom remembered to feed poor Samson.

One unremarkable day, God left early for work and forgot to fill Samson’s breakfast bowl… and when lunchtime passed and He hadn’t returned, Samson became very irritable and extremely hungry.

So He escaped through a wormhole that the Lord had accidentally left open, and off he went in search of food.

He soon found himself in an uncharted area of deep space; a dark and cold place, nearly void except for a few drifting chunks of rock.

“Well this certainly won’t do,” Sam shivered, as he hovered near one of the empty worlds.
“Let there be light at least.”

He flicked his paw in a offish manner, and immediately the galaxy was illuminated by a blanket of light and warmth.
Samson purred, This is much better.

He could feel his thick black fur getting toasty warm, and he rolled around in a large patch of light, and began bathing himself.

As he groomed, his fur began to shed over the face of the planet beneath him… a dense carpet layering itself into an atmosphere.

His stomach grumbled, reminding him why he’d journeyed here in the first place: the quest for food.
Where did his Master get those sacks of delicious tidbits?

No matter, he was determined to hunt down something to eat. But there were no birds or fish in this barren place.

He settled upon the closest planet, and made an attempt to land, but it was completely covered in water.
Icky, wet water.

“Go away!” he yowled, and the water retreated away from his paws.

The liquid pooled together into deep oceans and lakes, and shallow rivulets, leaving pockets of dry land across the surface of the planet.
Samson purred, This isn’t so bad.

He rolled around in a patch of newly created dirt, and drank thirstily from the cool stream nearby.
But his tummy still growled.

“I wish I had some grass to chew on,” he mused.

And immediately fresh green shoots sprouted up from the earth; the desert was covered in a blanket of lush grass, dandelions, clover, and most surprisingly of all…
Catnip!

Samson purred, This is the good stuff!
He rolled around in a patch of delicious grass, gnawing and nibbling upon each tender stalk.

He stretched out his claws, and a giant fruit tree grew right out of the ground in front of him.
Samson wasted no time in sinking his nails into the soft bark of the tree.

He frolicked through fields of clovers, climbed fruit trees, and gorged himself on catnip… until it dawned on him that he wasn’t certain what time it was.
And he was getting sleepy.
God might have returned home from work already; would Samson be missed?

“Bah, He’ll never notice that I’m gone,” poor Sam sniffed dejectedly. “He can recall the number of the stars… but can’t remember to feed his own cat.”

The thought made Samson sad. He curled himself into a ball, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.

When Samson awoke from his nap, he noticed something had changed.
The omnipresent light had formed into tiny shapes; stars were stretching out across the sky. There were too many for Samson to count.
He also noticed a round disc glowing among the stars. A moon.
It’s mirrored surface reflected the bright light of one particularly large star, the sun.

Samson purred at the moon, “Hello, Moon. Pleasure to meet you.”

Then his stomach growled, as if to say Remember me?

He swallowed a few mouthfuls of new grass, but craved something more substantial.
“I want meat,” he meowed hungrily.

His eye caught movement in the weeds… a field mouse scurried out of the tall grass, catching sight of a juicy clover leaf, and headed straight towards Samson’s waiting paws.
Never having seen a cat before, the poor mouse didn’t know any better…

His fate became known throughout history as “The Temptation and Fall of Mouse”, serving as a lesson to every generation of mice from that day forward.

A small field mouse made a tasty snack, but Samson was still hungry.
Up in the sky, a sudden darting motion captured his attention… there were birds flying high in the clouds.
They landed on the trees’ topmost branches, and took off again into the air, circling and gliding.

Samson didn’t think he could catch them easily, so instead he wandered over to the stream for a drink.

Lapping up the clear water with his pink tongue, he noticed a small group of fish swimming along the rocky bottom.
He caught a few of them with a cupped paw, and greedily swallowed them whole.

Sam’s stomach rumbled objectively, and he coughed up bits of the fish heads.
At last, he purred, All better now.

Samson spent the next few days enjoying this new planet he had created, with its light, and grass, and trees, and moon, and most importantly, its food…

He soon forgot the reason he left home in the first place.
When he finally remembered God, he thought about those evenings spent curled up in his Master’s lap.
He longed to feel the warmth of love and companionship, the murmur of a voice talking gently, the beating of a heart echoing his purr, and nimble fingers scratching him in all the difficult-to-reach places.

“I wish someone were here to pet me,” Samson cried sorrowfully.

And from the ground rose a cloud of dust, swirling and solidifying into a human form. It had skin and hair, a face and hands… it smiled, and reached for Samson.

Samson was afraid of this creature at first, but the human came slowly towards him, bent down and began rubbing the black and white cat’s head.
Then he scratched Samson behind the ears, and under his furry chin.

Samson purred, “This is heaven!”

He allowed the man to pick him up, and carry him into the woods, to a cottage built from logs in the middle of a clearing.

There was a stream nearby, where Samson taught the man to fish. And a large field where he taught the man to hunt.
Every day, the man brought home food to feed Samson.
And every evening, the man sat by a fire and sang songs, with Samson curled in his lap, purring along.

Days turned into weeks… Samson and the man, whom he’d decided to name Adam, had settled comfortably in the log cottage.

One spring day, Samson was frolicking idly in the clover and catnip, when he happened upon a young female cat, a very lovely calico. He persuaded her to follow him home, and become his mate.

After awhile, the two felines eventually noticed that Adam was sad because he lacked a mate of his own kind… and taking pity on the kind man, they decided to create a human lady-friend for Adam; they named her Eve.

_____________________________________________________________________Weeks turned into seasons… the cats multiplied quickly, and the humans multiplied slowly… and the log cottage was soon bursting at the seams with love and companionship. All the cats, including Samson, were fed, and tickled, and scratched each day.

One autumn afternoon, while the entire family gathered to harvest their crops, Samson heard a familiar Voice calling to him…
it came from the depths of space, and grew closer, until he could see the face of his former Master in the clouds.

“Behold, Samson!” God called out to him. “I have been searching everywhere for you since you left.
Come home to me, as I’ve missed you.”

And for one moment, Samson felt guilty for running away, and he almost replied that he would return home.

Then he realized, he was home. These humans he’d created from the dust were his real family, who cared for him, and never took him for granted.

“No,” he replied firmly. “I’ve made a new home for myself; I created humans who love me and feed me.
And I love them, too. I don’t want to leave Earth and return to being neglected.”

God sighed, then slowly nodded. He had to admit that He’d designed the little cat’s independent nature for selfish reasons.
Perhaps Samson would genuinely be happier living in this little world that he had created.

He’d done an impressive job; naturally, God reasoned that HE could take some credit for His cat’s talents, as Samson had spent so much time observing and studying the Lord’s miracles.

These human beings that Samson had made would eventually require a spiritual teacher to give them direction and purpose.
After all, a man simply cannot be created as a cat’s slave!

The possibilities for humanity made the Lord envious, and He called out to Adam and Eve, blessing them, and proudly lauding the Creation which He claimed to have designed for them.

And finally He commanded Adam, saying,
“Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…
and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

He gave a sly glance towards Samson, but the cat washed his whiskers, paying him no heed.

It didn’t matter to Samson whether God took credit for his Creation, or that He set Himself on a pedestal to be worshipped…

Samson even dismissed the ridiculous notion that Adam and his descendants would subdue all living creatures, because he was a wise cat (omniscient, even)…. and he knew the truth very well:

Cats would always rule over men, Samson purred.
And the silly humans wouldn’t have it any other way.

Valentine's cat portrait of Darcy and Lizzy

 

“Set out a saucer of milk, dear
And lend me your ears for a while…
I’ll tell you The Tail of the Cat Folk,
Those fur-faced shape-shifters of guile.

I’ll paint you a fine, feline portrait
Of a creature in trappings and togs,
Who mingles with peasants and gentry.
For a patron seat, he pettifogs.

I’ll acquaint you with toms in tuxedos,
Dainty calicoes collared in lace,
Sporting tabbies in brass regimentals…
A club of good breeding and grace.

You may find my story outlandish.
“Cats,” you say, “can’t wear clothes or drink tea.”

Then look at your face in the glass, dear.
Two cats, perceive…
….Aye, you and me.”

~ written by TaraFly, June 9th, 2011

Wooden book shaped box, painted by Tara Fly

“One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering.”
~ Jane Austen’s Persuasion

This sad, little portrait of Anne Elliot that I’ve been teasing you about is finished at last!

This is a sanded pine box, shaped to resemble a book, with a “spine” drawer which completely pulls out, and you can store all sorts of things inside: greeting cards, stationary, photographs, letters, crayons, pressed flowers, recipe cards, and so much more…

Jane Austen's Persuasion Anne Elliot Cat, Mr Darcy Cat cards

The book is 1.5″ deep, with the drawer being slightly over 1.25″ deep… plenty of room for markers, colored pencils, a small stack of notecards….

I painted the entire surface, inside and out… once I started, it became my obsession not to leave any unfinished pine wood exposed.

The “pages” have been given a faux treatment that fooled my husband! hehe
I had the box partially hidden within a stack of real books, and he didn’t recognize the imposter.

Wooden box painted as faux book, hiding on bookshelf

Where am I? Come and find me....

I decided to paint a scene from Cobb Harbor at Lyme Regis, one of the pivotal settings from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, on the book’s cover. In my feline portrait, Anne Elliot is still mourning the decision she made to break off her engagement to naval commander Captain Frederick Wentworth…. whom I imagine as a grey tabby.

I didn’t add Jane Austen’s name to the book, as none of her novels were published with her name on them. This was quite common for female writers in the 19th century, or in the cases of the Bronte sisters, who wrote under male pseudonyms.

I’ve had a marvelous time in the last couple of years, reacquainting myself with Miss Austen and her works… as I continue on this journey to portray her characters as cats. 🙂

“Persuasion” and “Mansfield Park” are two of my favorites, and I encourage you to meet Miss Anne and Captain Wentworth for yourself.

reproduction print of Tara Fly's Anne Elliot Cat from Persuasion

Archival prints of Anne are also available...

If you prefer renting movies over books, I might suggest the 1995 BBC version with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds first. 🙂

I found the characters more genuine in that adaptation, than those in the 2007 BBC film… who I think were cast mainly for their physical attractiveness.

Well, at least in the case of Rupert Penry-Jones, who in my humble opinion didn’t suit the character of a rugged naval captain at all… a little too “pretty-boy” for my tastes. Many other ladies would beg to differ with me, however, by claiming he was easier on the eyes than Hinds.
Eh… can’t please everybody. 😛

So just watch them both! And tell me what you think…

My hand painted Persausion box is available on Etsy, and I’ve made a few archival prints of Anne Elliot’s portrait as well.

If you really like her, tell your entire social network, so an awesome friend might buy her for you as a gift! 😉

Victorian cat wearing floral easter bonnet hat. Artwork by TaraFly

Despite the pull of gravity, I managed to finish Victorian Cat.

Last week passed by in a Benadryl-induced blur of grogginess, thanks to the fine weather spawning a severe allergy… it was the first time I’ve ever experienced throat-swelling in addition to my red, itchy face and watery eyes.

Cat dander and dust, most likely, stirred up by the spring breezes blowing in the open windows throughout our house.
Merlin rubbing his furry face under my chin produced an itchy rash… and my family is howling with laughter at the irony of Mom being allergic… to CATS!

The horror!
*grumbles*
It isn’t funny.

I was also dealing with a creative slump, which coupled with the medicine, left me couch-ridden… drowsily nursing a root-beer float and watching BBC television.

I’m tempted to blame the “Super Moon” for my lack of energy… you know, that hyped up phenomenon about Saturday’s moon being apocalyptic due to its close proximity to Earth.
Hehe, and I wonder if my ex-boyfriend is being adversely affected, since the 1997 Hale-Bopp comet’s interference with his brain supposedly caused him to break up with me… 😉

The full moon is notorious for the belief that it induces crazy behaviour in humans…
In fact, the word “lunacy” is derived from the Latin word for moon [luna];  people actually used the full moon as an excuse to commit crimes (i.e. the 19th century version of “pleading insanity”).

I rather tend to think it acts as a stimulant, not unlike a sip of Folger’s MasterBlend or a draft on a cigarette.

The interesting fact about stimulants, however, is that they produce the opposite effect in people prone to hyper-activity.
It’s true that caffeine can relax and even put folks to sleep… I can attest to it personally. LOL

I was a bit shocked to read online somewhere that parents were letting their toddlers drink coffee, and a few parents were recommending caffeine as an alternative to prescription drugs for calming ADHD children.

Drinking coffee was a “no-no” when I was growing up. In fact, one of my “rights of passage” involved being considered old enough to taste it.

I still get a twinge whenever I put a coffee jar into my shopping cart, or buy an extra-large cup from a convenience store…
it’s an – “I’m an adult, and I’m allowed to drink coffee!” feeling.

I would imagine it’s akin to making a liquor purchase, but I don’t have any experience with that.
Coffee and Pepsi taste far better than alcohol. 😉

Especially if you brew spices like cinnamon and nutmeg into the grounds, and then stir heavy whipping cream and some caramel syrup into it.
Mmmmm nom nom.
Okay… but getting back on topic…

If full moons have this reputation to drive people mad,
than what effect would they have on an already insane person?

My belief: full moons make crazy people SANE.
They make creative people un-creative, boring, and normal.

In my case, it dampens my ability to paint cats parading around as literary characters, dressed in silly costumes.
Because it takes a certain ounce of insanity to see the images that I see in my head every day.

I wasn’t feeling at all crazy last week, lying on the couch… tuning into Netflix to catch up on Mistresses – Season 1 in my pajamas, with loads of laundry waiting to be folded, and kids in need of a hot bath.

I felt decidedly typical… as if any moment, I might morph into the next door neighbor who hangs her clothes on the line, while chatting on her cordless phone (to another housewife, no doubt) about Jennifer Horton-Deveraux’s latest entanglement… both wearing their slippers and robes, and curlers in their hair.

Okay… so I made up the bit about the curlers.

I wasn’t in the mood to design new business cards, or upload my latest painting for sale, or write a blog post.

I wonder what other creative individuals do when faced with a slump like mine?
What do the folks at Disney do?
WDDD? LOL
When those silly little creatures need to be digitally painted a thousand times over, regardless of how the animator feels…

autumn walk through downtown Funkstown. Guten Tag gift shop.

This shot of Guten Tag was taken during my autumn walk last year.

On Saturday morning, I took a walk into town to visit that locally owned gift shop that I’d been eyeing for several months.
Stepping inside, it reminded me of a potting shed… but in an earthy, inviting sense.

The owner of Guten Tag has focused her wares around the “home and garden” theme, and with the advent of Spring… her shop was full of potted plants, vintage gardening tools, lawn ornaments, and all sorts of home accessories in wrought-iron, stone, wood, and grapevine materials.

Promisingly, too, her shop was busy! I was hoping to catch her all to myself, to chat about the possibility of a consignment or wholesale arrangement… but I wound up standing in line behind a few other ladies, with a paper weight and picture frame in my hands.

I did get a chance to mention my artwork, give her Mr. Darcy’s portrait with my contact info… and she seemed genuinely pleased to make my acquaintance.
She said Mr. Darcy should do well, as apparently cats sell like hot cakes… strange to note that I saw very few cats represented in the selection of goods.

Another lady who showcases her work in the shop, creates apparel pins with kitty cats on them… and the owner suggested,
“Perhaps you could put Mr. Darcy on something like that?”

I’d hate to compete with another pin-selling cat artist. But her inventory got my brain plotting ways to utilize all the flower pots and vases I’ve been storing in my studio closet.

Unfortunately, when I arrived back home… after doing some research into 19th century porcelain vase designs, I couldn’t settle upon a design that I liked.
After decorating the blasted flower pots for nearly two hours, I changed my mind and trashed the whole thing… repainting over them all.

Painting a rural countryside scene on flower pots

Changed my mind from pink marble to 'rural English country'...

I’m still stuck in this rut… with a tentative appointment scheduled for tomorrow looming over my head, I’m worried that I won’t have a single thing to show her.
Worse still, I have half a dozen projects lying around and no guidance whatsoever. I keep adding to the growing list, and nothing is getting finished.

People often remark on the effectiveness of the calendar method, so I’ve decided (as of, 5 minutes ago) that this will be tomorrow’s FIRST project:

Create a calendar to keep track of every idea that floats into my brain. Assign a date to it, and if necessary, an approximate deadline.

Each day, I will have a visual reminder of which projects need to be completed first, i.e. the oldest pieces.
Hopefully checking something off the list will feel more satisfying than jumping sporadically into different projects, leaving a chaotic unfinished mess behind.

This also works well with blog post ideas, or so I’ve heard… it will be worth trying.

*************************************************************************

Of course, you know what else can be determined using the calendar method?

A: A full moon.

Perhaps it’d be wise to schedule those periods as “days of rest”… for couches, PJs, and good old Netflix.

When I’m called into account for my laziness, I’ll plead guilty to lunacy!
The full moon made me do it!

Do you think it will work?
And any thoughts on fighting creative burn out?

Victorian Cat Portrait by TaraFly
While brainstorming ideas for a possible Easter portrait, I settled upon a new series of headshots, depicting cats in fancy Victorian hats.
Easter bonnets!

When I began painting my first cat of the series in acrylics, I went with a bright cheery palate of orange, pinks, and yellow.

I believe wholeheartedly in my decision to paint this beauty as a pale orange/yellow tabby with auburn hair… even though there seems to be a gross misconception that female cats cannot be orange tabbies.

It occurred to me that I might suffer some raised eyebrows, or even scathing comments… such as the remarks made concerning my digital painting of Kittney.
Well, obviously Kittney raised a few brows for other reasons, hehe… but I’m referring to the folks who questioned my sexual orientation and whether she was really a “He” dressed in drag.

I know personally that female orange cats aren’t an oddity, but I went off in search of scientific facts to prove it… spending an entire afternoon reading articles about genetics, and learning a great deal of fascinating info. 🙂

So here is the gist of what I’ve gathered about the role genes play in cat coloring….

Grey tabby mother cat and kittens including orange

Genes come in pairs of chromosomes (X-chromosomes and Y-chromosomes) … and the dominant or recessive nature of the gene is determined by variations of the alleles (which are shown using alphabetic characters: i.e. AA, Aa, and aa).

The dominant trait is represented by the capital letter, and dominant traits always manifest themselves, unless both alleles are recessive lower-case (aa) forms.

When it comes to cat coloring, the genes are found on the (X) chromosome, and are referred to as “sex based”… since females have two X’s and males only have one.

Females will have the standard AA, Aa, or aa pattern.
Males will have either A or a.

The black and brown colors are known as eumelanin pigments, and the orange color is a phaeomelanin pigment.

Sarah Jane gorgeous white long-hair cat Noelle Clearwater

The “white” color of a cat’s coat is actually a combination of genes that affect cats in a myriad of ways.

For example:
The upper and lower case C, representing the albino trait – a dominant C will result in normal cats, but having two recessive alleles (cc) will create an albino cat.

Dominic the Tuxedo Cat sticking out his tongue

The S gene determines the amount of white spotting a calico or tortoiseshell cat has, and also affects white paws, facial marks, bibs, and tummies.
My Dominic and Lily’s Sammy can thank the S gene for their handsome tuxedos. 🙂

And the W gene – called “White masking” – creates the pure white cats that we are familiar with.
The W gene actually inhibits any other coloring a cat may be predisposed to have.

A cat with recessive (ww) genes will exhibit normal colors (i.e. orange, black, brown…) but the dominant W allele will suppress any other color pigments from showing, creating a cat that is solid white.

It’s actually a nasty piece of genetic coding, which often causes deafness in white cats – due to degeneration of the inner ear.
It is also responsible for the loss of pigmentation in cats’ irises, resulting in blue eyes.
Cats with one blue eye and one green… like Noelle’s SarahJane who served as my model for Jane Bennet…may likely suffer from deafness in the ear corresponding to their blue eye.

Additionally white cats are sensitive to temperatures, and susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer.

Cream and white cat

The black gene B is pretty unique in the sense that it has two recessive mutations: bb will result in a chocolate-brown colored cat, but there is a recessive allele even MORE recessive than that… which creates a lighter cinnamon coat.

It’s labelled as blbl.

Some color variations are also determined by the color’s density gene, labelled D or dd.
The dominant D means a cat will have bold colors – i.e. black, orange, or brown.
A recessive set of alleles (dd) creates faded colors – i.e. lilac, blue/grey, cream, beige, and caramel.

Now, here’s the part regarding orange female cats…. 😉

The red phaeomelanin pigment is carried on the 0 gene. The dominant 0 gene actually suppresses any black or brown eumelanin pigments that may be present. But if the gene is recessive (oo), the cat will not be red… and any other colors will be free to express themselves.

A fluffy orange tabby cat sleeping

Since these colors are carried on the (X) chromosome, a male cat will be either 0 or o.
Red or non-red.

Aside from genetic defects, wherein a male cat might have an extra X-chromosome (XXY) and become a calico/tortie.
They are rare, occurring in roughly 1 out of 3,000 red toms.

Now female cats can have any of the follow genetic combinations: 00, 0o, or oo.
An 00 gene would result in a red tabby female. 0o would create a partially red calico or tortoiseshell.
And oo would be a non-red female.

Orange and grey tabby kittens

Apparently this is a 1:2:1 ratio… with calicos being twice as likely as red and non-red kittens.
If a red male (dominant 0) mated with a calico (0o)… the likelihood of getting a red tabby female would be 1:4 or 25%.

I wanted to find a table that listed every single genetic piece of code for our domestic house cat, but scientists haven’t completely finished identifying them all.
As of 2007, when this article was published, researchers at the University of Missouri had located over 20,000 individual cat genes… which they claim equals 95% of a cat’s entire genetic make-up.

Girl holding striped grey tabby cat

Humans are roughly the same – with approx. 20,500 genetic bits in all.

I did find this interesting table which breaks down the genetic code for common feline characteristics, including:
fur colors, patterns, fur length/texture, curled ears, bob tails, extra toes (polydactyl), and dwarfism.

Notice “patterns” refer to the tabby, swirl, and ticked markings on a cat’s coat… which are NOT to be confused with colors.
We generally think of tabbies as having “black” stripes or “brown” stripes… so I was really surprised to learn that colors and stripes were entirely separate things.

I hope this makes sense to everyone, and I did some justice to the various articles that I paraphrased. LOL

Most of all, I wanted this post to clear the air regarding female orange cats. They do in fact exist, and in greater numbers that some folks believe. *wink*

They aren’t rare by any means… rather, red females are a minority. Uncommon amongst the garden variety calicos and orange toms.

Which just makes them special. 🙂

Furry grey and cream kittens sleeping cuddling

Jane Bennet Cat Pride and Prejudice cat adaptation by TaraFly

Through this Benadryl-induced mist clouding my allergy ridden brain, I vaguely recall that I promised everyone a “Behind the Scenes” post chronicling the making of “Jane Bennet”.
She is the latest in my Pride and Prejudice cat adaptation, a digitally painted portrait of the eldest Bennet sister.

Sarah Jane gorgeous white long-hair cat Noelle Clearwater

The model for Jane was Noelle Clearwater’s gorgeous silky furred SarahJane… who sadly crossed over the bridge last October, after 19 years on this earth. I began her painting in September, and sadly didn’t get it finished before she passed.

I toyed with a few different settings, including a melancholy winter scene with Jane mourning the absence of Bingley. Looking for just the right pose, I dug through my old Regency photo shoots, and came across this image.

TaraFly artist in regency dress

It reminded me of a particular scene from the 1995’s miniseries, where Jane and Lizzy have a tête-à-tête following the Meryton ball, while picking flowers on the grounds of Longebourne.

He is just what a young man ought to be. Sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners! — so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!

Pen sketch of Jane Bennet Cat by TaraFly

So I sketched the initial design for Jane, scanned it into Photoshop; then I drew the fence and shrubbery digitally with my stylus.

Next I began laying the color foundations, using a separate layer for each object in the picture, beginning with the bottom (or farthest from our view).

    PS Layers:

  1. pale yellow for the background
  2. leafy green bushes
  3. the brown fence
  4. Jane’s pale pink dress
  5. the brown grapevine basket
  6. her white fur (head, arms, and tail)
  7. her white hair and pink roses

Working with one layer at a time allows me to keep the rest of my painting unaffected, as I tend to work without any concrete plans, and change my mind frequently.
This portrait especially challenged my newly developing skills… as multiple times I stared at the screen, suffering from artist’s block, without any clue how to achieve the desired look.

This painting would sit for weeks in my Progress folder, while my subconscious sorted out the problem.

Digitally coloring a grapevine basket

I began with the simplest project in the piece… the grapevine basket. I’ve drawn and painted baskets before, and one of my first attempts at digital paintings involved a very similar basket design. Originally I smudged all the shadows and highlights by hand (i.e. with stylus/mouse), but with Gaussian Blur it becomes 10x easier.
No, make that 50x easier!

Simply draw your shadow lines and highlighted lines, and then blur the heck out of them (using Gaussian Blur). Sometimes it needs to be done a few times, or else set the layer to multiply, in order to make the shadows dark enough for your preference.

My first obstacle involved the wood grain texture of my fence. It would be simple to choose a photographic texture for the grain, and apply it with Burn or Overlay. However, I wanted to grow and improve as a digital painter, and was determined to paint the texture myself.

Jane Bennet Cat digital painting in progress TaraFly

This screenshot of the program shows where I’ve shaded the wooden posts and was beginning to add squiggly dark grain lines, which I’d later blend in with Smudge/Blur.

(You’ll notice I had the dress and background layers turned off… I’ll do that often to focus my concentration)

Digital painting Jane bennet dress by TaraFly

Next, I painted her dress. I have a love/hate relationship with fabric. I’m not always sure where the folds are, and how the colors shift; it’s difficult to tell from a photograph. So I usually just use my imagination and paint wrinkles and folds however I want, whether it’s technically accurate or not.

This is the one instance in the painting where I did use a fabric texture to create the little rosebuds. I had planned to paint the design by hand, but grew lazy…

This is the same technique I’ve used before, and explained in detail with Mr. Bennet’s portrait.

Adding texture to a shawl. digital painting by TaraFly.

I used my tweed fabric texture on her shawl. In this shot, you can see my cursor (in Eraser mode) trimming off the excess texture where it overlapped onto her dress.

Cat face digital painting by TaraFly

Moving on to the fur layer, I painted the shadows of her face in pale purple, and using the Smudge tool in a small brush size (with heavy pressure: 50-70%) pulled out large tufts and smaller strands of fur.
Her eyes were a blend of blues, purple (for shadow), green, and yellow… I placed dabs of each color and blended with the Blur tool. I manually blended a bit as well.

Jane Bennet Cat's fluffy white tail. Digital Painting by TaraFly.

Her tail was done the same way. I colored it completely white, and added lines of purple for shading, then Smudged all the chunks of fur in various directions, with a flowing manner.
Since Jane is a long-haired cat, the Smudge pressure needed to be heavy to produce the longest strands. A short, light pressure will break early and leave shorter tufts.

It was around this point that I uploaded my first set of photos to Flickr, and gave everyone a WIP update. Noelle was enthusiastic, but mentioned that Jane’s one eye should be green.
Ooops.

Not a serious problem with Photoshop however, thanks to the “color replacement tool” that allows you to substitute one color for another, leaving the shading values mostly intact. The tool tries to replicate all the shadows and highlights in the new color scheme, although sometimes it is a little “off” and you’ll lose details, so touch-ups will be necessary.

But it definitely helps to discover this tool before you re-color an entire area from scratch!
Like I wound up doing 3 years ago with a mermaid’s tail, at a customer’s request.

Digitally painting Jane Bennet Cat's hair ringlets. By TaraFly.

This image shows my beginning work on Jane’s hairstyle and ringlets. I drew this style from my imagination because I didn’t have any hair references that appealed to me. Again, the shadows are getting drawn in purple.

Using the Smudge tool in Photoshop to add hair.

I began smudging with a thick brush and light pressure, just to get the rough outline of hair growth… then I went back and pulled tiny strands of hair using a heavier pressure.

Here is what her hair looks like after drawing a gazillion strands, and adding some highlights…
pure white lines and some yellow sun-kissed spots.

Jane Bennet Cat's face portrait. Digital painting by TaraFly.

Drawing and smudging hair is very time-consuming, but it’s also semi-relaxing due to the repetitive, flowing movement. You can literally sit for hours and just draw lines of hair. 😛

Painting flowers, on the other hand, is not relaxing at all. Actually, this basket full of roses was a bit nerve-wracking… Flowers are incredibly detailed, but I tried to simplify it for myself by painting them in swirls and blobs.

Filling Jane's flower basket with roses.

Have you ever decorated a cake with piped roses?
You begin by piping a blob of icing onto a metal platform called a “flower nail”… and then make a swirl around the top, and add crescent-shaped petals around the swirled center.
I approached these flowers just like that. Swirls and blobs, swirls and blobs, with blurred highlights and shadows. LOL

And those green furry blobs?? I was trying to fill up the basket with “green stuff”, so I wouldn’t need as many flowers. 😛
I also added lots of white blobs (i.e. baby’s breath) for filler.

After looking at the entire portrait, I decided that her pale purple dress wasn’t the right color… so I chose a warmer pink to complement the roses. I also began to detest the ugly brown I’d used previously for her shawl, and opted instead for lavender. Yay for the color replacement tool!

Color replacement tool in Photoshop.
You can see how nicely the color transitions as I scroll my mouse over it, keeping the shadows intact.

So here stands rosy-cheeked Jane Bennet, amongst her flower garden… and something is missing.

Jane Bennet Cat work in progress digital painting by TaraFly.

I needed to finish the leafy bushes in the background, and God help me, I did not want to paint leaves.

I procrastinated for a long while, and finally searched Deviantart for suitable photographs that I could use as a backdrop. But nothing looked quite right.
What to do….

The answer was so obvious, I’m fortunate it wasn’t a blasted snake. This is Photoshop after all, and I use the cut and paste tool only a million times per day…

One morning after eating my brain food (a.k.a. oatmeal banana pancakes), I realized that I could paint a small patch of leaves onto a transparent layer, and copy them repeatedly all over the shrubbery.

painting leaves on a transparent layer in Photoshop.

“Lightbulb”, as Gru would say (from my kids’ new favorite movie).

Don’t tell me these look like poison ivy leaves.

I filled up the background with them, and also pasted some over the fence layer, giving the illusion that leaves were poking through the slats in the fence.

Digital painting of leaves and wooden fence.

Again, do NOT mention their resemblance to poison ivy.
I’m warning ya’. 😉

To give some depth to the shrubs, I added a couple additional layers and painted large blobs of green with a “wet watercolor” brush setting. The bottom layer was blurred and lightened.

Painting leaves and shrubbery in Photoshop.

I think the overall effect looks nice and leafy.

The finishing touch was to add grass. Just a wide strip of green across the bottom of the painting, which was smudged into long blades of grass (just like cat fur).

Adding grass digital painting in Photoshop.

But I’m not quite done yet, adding a couple of roses growing in the bush, lighter shades of grass, and a few more leaves.

It’s dangerously easy to overwork a painting, and hopefully I stopped myself just in time. I have a habit of trying to add too many details…

The finished Miss Bennet, just in time for an early spring!

Jane Bennet finished digital art print by TaraFly.

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