Had one of our first episodes in 2008 of what we call “Animal Planet” last night. Heard a noise in the kitchen, cat in living room suddenly watchful, David went to kitchen and called me. I went in to see…a medium-sized brownish, black rat perched on top of one of our dining table chairs with another cat or two prowling beneath. Rat’s back was damp, but seemed otherwise undamaged.

I’ll lengthen the suspense by noting that while I’m not sure of the species, it was probably a young black rat. Largish ears, cute face with big, sparkling black intelligent eyes.

I’m always tempted to run for the camera, but it’s more important to get a wild animal back outside where it belongs and I didn’t want this guy (or girl) jumping down and getting under something like the refrigerator, which would have caused me to miss the end of the American Idol results show (boo hoo). When it’s mice or lizards or birds, I grab rubber gloves, catch and release. (The hummingbird required a pond net. However, that’s another story.) But I didn’t want to risk a rat bite, so I used a large wide-mouth jar that happened to be sitting on the counter and, after a couple of tries, got the rat to dash into it. We enjoyed a nice long look at our unexpected visitor and then I released him/her next to a pile of alder logs and branches a short distance from the house.

Peregrin, our only male cat, was probably the one who brought the rat in, but seemed only momentarily put out when it vanished.

And yes, I have no fear or hatred of rats. They are smart, canny survivors, but belong outside eating bugs and slugs, not inside providing hunting sport for the cats.


So here’s my version of a very basic drawing exercise that any other artists reading this are probably familiar with. It’s deceptively simple. Draw an egg lit with light from one source. Doing this will, ahem, illuminate something that was worked out by artists in the Renaissance-how light falls on objects. If you look at portraits from that time, the formula is easy to see and has five parts: Light, core shadow, shadow, reflected light and cast shadow. There is also often one bright spot in the light area called the highlight. Anyone can easily set up an egg, shine a desk light on it, take a pencil and paper and have a go. Even people on the road in RV’s. Right, Rene?


3 thoughts on “Rats!

  1. Oooooh, what a great lesson for non-artists like me who are too intimidated to sketch for real in a true artist notebook. I can’t wait to try it!

    P.S. Very cool of you to release the rat. Not too many people would do that.


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