anonyrrie: Illustration Friday - Black Cats and Hepcat

Friday, January 20, 2006

Illustration Friday - Black Cats and Hepcat

This is an oldie, done several years ago when I was first learning Illustrator. Admittedly, I haven't gotten a whole lot farther than these basic shapes and patterns, but that's probably because I don't use Illustrator that much. I'm posting it because I haven't any time this week to work on something new... I'll be spending all weekend working on the Journeys book project. Even so, I've always liked this because it honors two very special black cats I've had the pleasure of knowing.

Swamp and I came together in a karmic moment on the east bank of the Hudson River one spring morning in 1978 when I rescued him and his sister from being hurled into the river by a couple of boys. Both kittens were tiny black puffballs, the boy having the distinguishing trait of six claws on one front foot and seven on the other. I found the idea of a black cat with thirteen toes very appealing, so I kept him and named him Swamp, because with those feet he would never sink, even on the soggiest terrain. I gave his sister to a waitress I knew from the Empire Diner, where I used to have Sunday brunch. She named her Butch for her own particular reasons. I had Swamp for many many years, and took him with me on my adventures. He and my other cats, Wanda and Willie, even moved with me to the U.S. Virgin Islands, living first in a house in the mountains and then later on a tiny, uninhabited island a quick row away from the boat I called home. He spent his old age residing peacefully with my parents, and in his true mystical fashion, went off one day to die in the woods.

The other black cat was Oscar, who belonged to Jol. He was named after Oscar Wilde because of his flamboyant personality and his graceful movements. Oscar was an outdoor cat and an accomplished hunter with a taste for the unusual... Jol once witnessed him devour a bat! Oscar died a few years ago, and now shares closet space with the ashes of Willie II and Romeo.

I've had many cats that I've loved over the years, but below is a picture (manipulated photograph) of my favorite and the one I love best... the Hepcat.


Blogger Knitting Painter Woman said...

I'm so glad I checked to see if anybody had posted cat illo's yet. (Good grief 185 already!!) Your illustration is fun, but the story is fabulous. Swamp was lucky and I'm sure Hepcat is too. My real cat is always moving off just when I think she's posing. I have a Tomi Ungerer book of cat cartoons, though and will probably copy a bunch of those until cats are in my fingers and thumbs.

7:28 PM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:39 PM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Sorry, I deleted...Oups... Just telling you that I found both your cats very cute. :o)

8:43 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

this is so beautiful carla, i m glad you had time as the colours are purfect!!!

9:23 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Although it's old and done in Illustrator I see your drawing style coming out in this one. Good Job!

10:17 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Have a great weekend girl! Love you simple Ill. :-)

10:56 PM  
Blogger Tiffy said...

Great colors and theme! Not bad at all for a first time user of Illustrator! I am sure you've improve your skills much more now. I love the hearts ^_^

12:26 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Amazing zing of colour in the flowers -- great choice. And there are people who are definitely feline of character, aren't there?

12:36 AM  
Blogger KaRLa said...

is lovely i like the colors, is a great composition!!!!! good work

1:01 AM  
Blogger KaRLa said...

is lovely i like the colors, is a great composition!!!!! good work

1:02 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

Brilliant colors - it's so cool!

1:49 AM  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

beautiful illustration!! Love the color and shape!! The design is very creative!!

3:01 AM  
Blogger isay said...

heartwarming story carla. how i wish i can take care of any pet, too.

i like his face and those flowers.

3:54 AM  
Blogger kg said...

great story (as always) - i hate to hear about anyone - especially young people - causing harm to pets (or any living creature, for that matter) - glad you were able to rescue those cats! all my life, i've disliked cats, but the man i married came with one, so i took 'em both and have been happy ever since! ;-) i love our cat - allergy-inducing dander and all!

anyway, i like your illo, and how you have taken what is almost like the negative space of the illo and turned into the focal point of the piece. and your 'hepcat' - hm. i certainly see the resemblance between that photo and your south park illo from an earlier post!!

ps thanks for your kind comment on my latest post - visiting your blog is one of my tricks for inspiration!

11:00 AM  
Blogger LudaChristian said...

beautiful colors! well done!

12:50 PM  
Blogger The Whippy Curly Tails said...

Just beautiful. The colors are great.
Can't wait to see more of your art from the early days!

Cute cat on the guitar. We should all have a music man.

2:05 PM  
Blogger creative kismet said...

Dazzling! It's always a joy looking at your art- old and new!

2:32 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

I do like the intense bright colors. But the pic of Jol is the best. So looking forward to seeing the Journies books from everyone when they are done. Hope you are having a creative weekend.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Its great to see your music man!!!

3:52 PM  
Blogger zordis said...

Nice illo, the black cat with flowers ..... very good!

7:04 PM  
Blogger cosmos said...

Thats a Great Cat!

8:34 PM  
Blogger modroom said...

Wooaagghh very lush. Love the patterns colours composition, and a cat tale. The Hepcat looks cool...::)

8:38 PM  
Blogger melba said...

Last week I left you a comment about selling your art and now you have a website...was it always there and I just never noticed? Either way it looks fantastic. I know great things will come to you. The Journeys Book Project looks so cool. I will check back to see the progress...what a neat idea!

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Marie said...

This is eyecatching and wonderful, as usual.

10:59 PM  
Blogger The Silent K said...

wow- you did this when you were just learning Illustrator!?

It is really great! I am trying to learn it now. I recognize the "radial gradient tool" in there!

Awesome colours.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

*Seething with jealousy that this represents one of your first attempts with Illustrator* You should have seen my first few attempts. Very embarrassing stuff. This is awesome.

1:17 AM  
Blogger cream said...

Great illustration and story!
Well travelled cat!

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Marion said...

Nice illo and great story.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Katili said...

I think you did great work with Illustrator. The background colours and patterns are very tasteful and bring the black cat a perfect conbtrast. I just loved your stories of the cats. Especially moved by Svamp and Butch getting saved and new homes.

6:10 AM  
Blogger ratlion said...

A black cat with thirteen claws!! Wow!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Twisselman said...

Wonderful illustration and background story. Really like the contrasting colors.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Tony Sarrecchia said...

For an early effort with Illustrator, this came out great. I wish some of my students could get this out of an early effort.

Good backstory.

3:51 PM  
Blogger The Tart said...


What a HONEY, both of them.

Lovely colors.

The Tart

3:57 PM  
Blogger Amy Zaleski said...

This is really striking! Not bad for an Illustrator novice. I think this is a great tribute to the feline buddies from your past.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Tony LaRocca said...

I like the colors, this reminds me of those glow in the dark velvet 70's posters! Groovie ;D

5:09 PM  
Blogger Alison Ashwell said...

Lovely illos and story

7:19 PM  
Blogger m.b said...

This is a lovely illo Carla. I have to say, I really appreciate all your wonderful comments about my work. You are so encouraging and inspiring, thank you! I have to admit I've gotten used to wondering and waiting for "what Carla thinks" :) And I always look forward to what you share with us each week. It seems to me every piece you do is thought provoking and meditative, both in image and in written sentiment. Again, Thank You!

7:54 PM  
Blogger JacqueLynn said...

OOOOH, you KNOW I love the popping colors on this, so much energy - love it

8:19 PM  
Blogger atomicvelvetsigh said...

another wonderful illo! and a great story too.. always fond of seeing your works!

10:33 PM  
Anonymous irvine said...

nice kitty! i almost didnt see it. hee hiding!

10:36 PM  
Blogger frank h said...

Oh, that is a wonderful combination of colors, Carla!
The strong black is the perfect contrast for the feathers.
I liked a lot - really good work.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Apple-Pine said...

Beautiful colors!

1:16 AM  
Blogger Sp00kalot said...

I LURVE this Carla! You must send it to me. I need to have it.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Liz Jones said...

Love that cat!!
I never got very far with Illustrator either. Not exactly intuitive, huh. You did a good job with this one!

12:20 PM  
Blogger Leezy said...

A great illustraion accompanied by a lovely story. I like the colours you used in the piece and it had your beautiful style all over it.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Giles said...


1:02 PM  
Blogger String said...

Beautiful illo, such richness! Nice comment too, love my cats, and miss my black one!

1:57 PM  
Blogger Jaimie said...

oooh I just love this one. the contrast between the purple and pink flowers, and the green background is striking.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Raymond Larose said...

Great work on the cats subject, Carla! The color stands out very nice!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Lily and Lucy White said...

Carla, it is always a treat… And this one is very special. Love the story and wonderfully vibrant illo! There is PG as you suggested happening. Lily.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Tintagua said...

very nice work with the colors here - love your illustrations, you have a unique style that I like.

Can I link you to my blog? :)

7:05 PM  
Blogger Brandi said...

Wild, bright colors! Love this one! I love how you always include a short story with your illustrations, that is really fun! Brandi

7:13 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I knew you would come up with something great! Lovely black kitten!

7:34 PM  
Blogger Wilnara said...

Vibrant!!! I love how the flowers just jump of the page! As usual Carla, AWESOME Image!!!!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I agree with the others...the word that comes to mind is vibrant. The colors really pop. Very pretty illo.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Rachelle said...

Beautiful Illustration Carla in it's own right, never mind if you were just learning Illustrator. The background shapes, patterns and colors are simply stunning. Loved your cat stories too.

1:32 PM  
Blogger TXArtcGal said...

Fun and mysterious at the same time! The colors dance around the image! VERY nice!

2:05 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

hey carla - I've been meaning to tell you since you posted how much I love the black cat )and any Romeo stories in general :)) hepcat is a real looker too ;)

4:13 PM  
Blogger Aravis said...

What beautiful stories of the sweet ones you've loved, as well as a cool photo of one you still do. :0) Lovely tribute, Carla!

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Majeak Ann said...

Wicked!! Love the greenglow background. You did create great shapes in illustrator. This cat is GREAT Carla!I onced had a cat named Kafka, and I miss him...
-Marjorie Ann

11:07 PM  
Blogger Isa said...

All those flowers, all those colors... beautiful illo, I love cats!

3:29 AM  
Blogger bee'nme said...

Lush and lovely illustration - beautifully rendered! Love it!

9:25 AM  
Blogger Saul Iscariot said...

Tha is an amazing picture, the colours are fantastic, and the clarity of the image. I often can get one or the other, but rarely both to work so well. And your story about the cats, I'm an avowed hater of cats, really can't stand them, but I'll take my hat off to you, not only for saving the two cats, but for spending a life with them.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Wout Paulussen said...

Just wonderfull. Very inspiring blog.
Keep it up. I'll be back.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Maria Antunes said...

Lovely colors, lovely illo... it's lovely!!! :-)

9:22 AM  
Blogger vfm4 said...

beautiful illo, so different from your other ones, but i love it too!

9:51 AM  
Blogger wingb said...

a lovely blackcat : >

11:26 AM  
Anonymous paula said...

Like your black kitty, Carla. The backstory is great, too. You lived on an uninhabited island...? Wow!

2:19 PM  
Blogger Happily Ever After said...

Carla, it looks as though you have many talents running around your home. And quite an interesting past. I thought of you the other day when I ran across this artist who does mosaic. You might enjoy visiting her site. Good luck with your book! What a great collection of talented people!!

5:22 PM  
Blogger arvindh said...

Love your use of vibrant colours in this work!

6:08 PM  
Blogger Ian T. said...

The coolest cats all play bass!

Your black cat picture has unusual composition and colour choices, and works beautifully! That cat has an intense air, as he/she lurks behind the flowers.

Hmm, six toes... like that apocryphal tale about Anne Boleyn... and it really does happen!

10:29 PM  
Blogger isay said...

Carla-thank you for the best wishes you have send to me-i really appreciate. I am still shaky but better. I'll get to know more of the story tomorrow.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Nice illustration! I have a black cat. You can see him on my Freaks of Nature blog. He's the one with 3 eyes.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

Ihad missed your beautiful illustration for cats.Beautiful illoa nd interesting story.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Catnapping said...

I love this. It has the feel of cut foil. the colours are incredible...especially those flowers.

excellent illo.

4:14 PM  
Blogger RedT0pMedusa said...

black cats are the best! I had one called beu beu he was my best friend ever and he loved to go everywere with me too, more spacifically he liked car rides, one time he was missing for three days before a gas attendent from town (60 some miles away) called me and asked if he could keep him! i said no and promptly went to go get him

he was diabetic and finally went into shock

i miss him

cats are always great friends

10:34 PM  

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