Inktober 2018: Michiko

Michiko 2 900

Michiko held this position just long enough for me to sketch in her head and basic body position. She’s a 13 year old tamed feral who we’ve had since she was 3 months old. She recently went deaf and has some arthritis in her hind end but otherwise is in great shape. Created on my iPad Pro with Tayasui Sketches Pro using the pen and watercolor brush tools. #inktober #inktober2018 #catsofinstagram #catartist #animalartists #calicocat #tayasui #ipadproart

In The Studio: Cat Art For Sale!

 SOLD! “Sleeping Cat” watercolor 6×9″  $30

I had a lot of fun a couple of months ago doing a series of cats in watercolors for a local show of cat art. On the opening night there were kittens available and four were adopted! There were also sales! But I still have some of my pieces left and am offering them for sale right here and now. So consider giving one or more of them a good home. :0)

All of them are done in transparent watercolor on Waterford paper and are unframed.

Saber-toothed Cat
“Sabertooth Cat” watercolor 7×9″ $35

In order to purchase, please leave a comment saying “Sold!” and saying which one(s) you want. First come, first serve.

Sun Cat
“Sun Cat”  watercolor 6×9″ $30

I really had fun getting crazy with color, letting it run and spread as it wanted to.

“Lazy Cat” watercolor 5×6″  $20 (had a terrible time processing this one for some reason, but it’s on the same white paper as the others
“Watching Cat” watercolor 7×10″  $35
“Snoozing Cat” watercolor 6×9″  $30

Once again, to purchase please leave a comment telling me which piece or pieces you want. First come, first serve. Payment by Paypal only. Sales price includes sales tax where applicable and mailing.

Thanks for your interest!


The Art Life: Not Just Art

Alexander A Really Great Cat

I have the good fortune to work at home doing something I love. It also means “visitors” every day. Our two rough collies and three cats wander in and out, sometimes just to say “hi” or to hang out. The last few days Alexander has come in, sprawling across my desk in front of my iMac to get his tummy skritched and combed out. He was a slightly scruffy little shelter kitten who we got when he was about three months old. He’s grown into a phlegmatic 8 year old, 16 pound furball.

(And wouldn’t you know it, as I was proofing this post in he came. Pause for tummy combing….)


(Ok, I’m back.)

Being at home also means that if I, say, spot a juvenile great blue heron down at our pond I can grab my camera and get some photos.


After work tasks include watering the vegetable garden and picking what’s ready. We got a very late start this year, but Humboldt County’s warmest weather is in September/October so we’ll get at least some goodies in the freezer like peas for winter solstice dinner.


We picked our first real harvest a few days ago. Shallots, a yellow zucchini, Hurst Green Shaft peas (got the seed in England and haven’t found an American source for this awesome variety), Blue Lake green beans, and French haricot verts. Potatoes will be ready in another month or so. We’ve also planted regular green zucchini and summer squash, both of which will start to be ready for harvesting soon. I also, because I had them, threw some brussels sprout seeds from 2012 into the ground just to see if any would germinate. Thought I might get two or three. Well….I’ve now got a clump of over a dozen that are too close together. My plan is to carefully transplant them into a row once the rains come and the weather is cooler.

I think we’re going to dig a small root cellar on the north side of the garage since there are five varieties of garlic on the way, plus some heritage onions. The peas and beans will be, respectively, shelled and cut up for the freezer, where they will join the three gallon-size ziploc bags of blueberries our bushes produced this year. Did I mention that I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” right now?  :0).

In the meantime, last night I rummaged around for dinner wanting to use the zucchini while it was fresh and some mushrooms before they were goners. And came up with this…

squash dish

I set water to boiling for the shell pasta and then sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil and butter. I added the zucchini and let it cook for a bit, then added some finely sliced leeks. It’s seasoned with a bit of salt, basil, parsley and oregano. When the pasta was done I dumped it into the vegies and stirred everything together. Dinner was served in our Portmeirion “Borders” pattern china that we got at the factory seconds shop in England  twenty years ago.

As for art, as you saw last week, I’ve got some new small horse paintings under way. I also started this one, getting the brush drawing done. You can still see the pencil marks from where I projected the preliminary drawing for transfer and then made some corrections. But darn, I kinda like the way it looks now, so I might just call it done and keep it around. We’ll see.


Gallimauphry Friday: Cat Art Sale Coming Up! See What I’ll Be Offering…

Watching Cat
“Watching Cat” watercolor on paper 7×10″ $20

There is a great benefit art show that has happened for a number of years now that I’ve contributed to in the past but have been too busy to do again until now. It’s called “Cats in the Hall”, the hall being The Hall Gallery at 208 C Street Studios in Eureka, California, about 20 minutes from where I live.

There will be work by over 70 local artists working in various media. The Arts Alive! Reception will be on Sept. 2nd. The doors open at 12:00PM Saturday and Sunday. Costumes are encouraged for the opening. The show comes down Sept 27th. There will be cats available for adoption.

I’ve taken advantage of finally not staring down the barrel of show deadlines for awhile to splash around with my watercolors and have some fun painting from the zillions of photos I’ve taken of our cats over the years.

Conked Out Cat (1)
“Conked Out Cat” watercolor on paper 6.25×9″  $10

The pieces I’m posting here will only be available for now at the show. If any don’t sell, then I’ll post them for sale on my website.

Comfy Cat
“Comfy Cat” watercolor on paper 5×6″ $10

I really had fun loosening up with the watercolors. I drew each shape, added a layer of clear water and then started adding paint, just letting it do its thing. I used my new Yarka watercolor set so it was a chance to try out some new colors too.

Tiny Cat
“Tiny Cat” watercolor on paper 1 7/8″x3 7/8″  $5

So if you live in Humboldt County (or beyond) and you love art or cats or art and cats or cat art, come to the show!

Tummy Cat
“Tummy Cat” watercolor on paper 10×7″  $20

Feline Friday + The Family Dog

I’ve got a rather intense project under way, about which more soon, so for today I thought I’d just share some photos of our family critters, three cats and a collie. The cats all came from a shelter, Niki from a responsible breeder.

Alexander, a Really Great Cat, relaxed
Eowyn, who in her younger days probably could have slain the Nazgul, is now happy to help me out with paper support
Michiko, our tamed feral; we couldn’t resist that face; she brought us a dead gopher last week
Niki, our tri-color rough collie boy, self-appointed guardian of all creatures great and small

100 Posts!- Culture Vultures in San Francisco and Snowy Roads

To my amazement, this is the one hundredth post that I’ve done since I started to blog last January. It seemed to happen so fast. I guess it really is true that time flies when you’re having fun. Thank you to everyone who reads and comments!

We just got back from a four day trip to San Francisco, which is about six hours south of where we live. We knew that the weather was predicted to be “interesting”. Little did we know. But first, here’s a really special photo my husband took before we left. I was out running errands, he went to get the mail and saw this little grey fox snoozing in the sun right out in the driveway of a house across the street. He got the camera and he/she was still there. This is one of the best shots. Pretty cool.

Grey Fox
Grey Fox

As anyone who has cats and dogs knows, they figure out pretty quickly when something is up and the humans are going away. Some get anxious and some, well, don’t.


When we left, the ocean looked like this:

Clam Beach near McKinleyville
Clam Beach near McKinleyville

We speculated on where we might see snow on the mountaintops and maybe even on the road. I figured Rattlesnake Pass between Laytonville and Willits.

Near Confusion Hill, Humboldt County, US101
Near Confusion Hill, Humboldt County, US101

Wrong. This was almost an hour north in Redwood Country, where we rarely see snow on the coast.

Near Leggett, US101
Near Leggett, US101

Mmm, it’s getting heavier and right down to the road.

North of Willits, US101
North of Willits, US101

It’s a….Winter Wonderland!

Oak trees just north of Laytonville, US101
Oak trees just north of Laytonville, US101

Snow, snow all along the route. Laytonville and Willits were covered with snow. Really beautiful and an unusual treat for us coastal northern Californians where the average temperature in January is 55F.

View from our room
View from our room

But we got to our room at the Emeryville Courtyard Marriott and had this killer view of San Francisco at sunset. And the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge

Notice the clear skies. So we had nice weather, but cold, for what we came down to do: Family visit, the Yves St. Laurent show “Style”, at the de Young Museum and the Afghani treasures show, “Afghanistan” at the Asian Art Museum. A bonus at the de Young was an absolutely knock-out show of geologic forms, “Systematic Landscapes” in a variety of media by Maya Lin, who designed the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington D.C.

We got in a stop at IKEA, too.

Of course we took advantage of the culinary richness of the Bay Area, eating Thai (Boran, Solano Ave., Berkeley), Ethiopian (Addis, Telegraph Ave., Oakland), Italian (Pasta Pomodoro, Bay Center, Emeryville) and seafood (Sea Salt, San Pablo Ave.. Berkeley). At the Sea Salt Restaurant, I couldn’t an unexpected opportunity to try the legendary drink Absinthe for the first time. There were three choices and I went for the St. Georges, which is distilled in Alameda, right down the road from Berkeley. It was…..amazing. A little goes a really long way. We found it at a, hate the name, BevMo and indulged in a bottle, which ought to last a couple of years depending on how many artist and other friends care to try it.

And, since David had accidently put his cell phone through the washing machine and our contract was up next spring anyway, we went to an Apple store and got iPhones. Absolutely revolutionary devices. Effortless to use. Intuitive. More stuff than you ever thought you’d want to do. The procrastination possibilities are almost endless. And the phone works just fine, too.

The trip home yesterday was in rain, hard rain and pounding, monsoon-like rain. We were glad to collect the collie boy and kick back for a quiet evening.

I’m going to take next week off and celebrate the holidays with family. Mongolia Monday will return on the 29th. Before we left, I got this photo of Michiko snuggled in her chair amongst some garlands that I’d draped over it.



Mongolia Monday- Cats and Dogs

Cat seen from train, 2004
Cat seen from train, 2004


In three trips to Mongolia I’ve seen exactly….three cats, literally one per trip. In general it appears that Mongolians don’t much like cats. There are a number of beliefs about them, none particularly positive. I was told that the appearance of a cat meant that there would be a death. Two women that I’ve spoken with both said that they didn’t even like the idea of touching a cat, but one allowed as how her attitude was probably based on things older people had said when she was much younger.

On the other hand, when we stopped at a ger in the Gobi, I watched a woman shoo this cat into the ger while the dogs were clearly meant to stay outside. I remember thinking “It figures.”

Cat at ger near Bayanzag in the Gobi
Cat at ger near Bayanzag in the Gobi

They do seem to be kept around by some families for the age-old purpose of rodent control. This little cat was at the ger camp at Ikh Nart. She was fussed over by the cook, who I was told loves animals. She was very friendly, so David and I were able to get an unexpected “cat fix”. It was apparently impossible to keep her out of the staff ger because she would climb up to the top and come in through the center opening. One night she dropped down onto our guide’s bed, one of the women who was adamant about not liking cats, and proceeded to try to snuggle up near her head. I remember thinking “It figures.”

Young cat at Red Rock Ger Camp, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve
Young cat at Red Rock Ger Camp, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve


I suspect that Mongols have had dogs for as long as they have had horses and the other “Snouts”. The traditional greeting upon approaching a herder ger is “Hold the dogs!” and they aren’t kidding. The traditional herder’s dog is a Tibetan mastiff, which can take its guard duties very seriously. I was told on this last trip, however, that many herders do keep a dog as a “pet” along with the ones for guarding. I hope to learn more about all this on the next trip.

Tibetan Mastiff-type dog
Tibetan Mastiff-type dog
Mastiff puppies near Hustai National Park
Mastiff puppies near Hustai National Park

One consistant piece of advice that one runs across when looking into travel to Mongolia is do not, DO NOT, pet, pat, scritch, scratch or otherwise touch any dog. They have not been vaccinated for rabies and getting saliva on your skin, much less a bite, means air evacuation to a hospital for the (painful) series of shots. Foreigners who are working in the countryside get the rabies vaccine, but since nothing is 100%, it’s smart for them not to have contact either.

That said, I have found that most of the dogs I’ve seen don’t exhibit vicious behavior and a lot of them seem to be longing for contact with people. I finally relented once at Arburd Sands when this dog approached me while I was sketching and leaned into me. I decided that it was unlikely that the camp owners would have a dog around that was at all likely to bite the guests. I stayed alert while I gently petted his back and didn’t let his mouth near my hand. He seemed to really like it, but it was still a risk.

Friendly dog at Arburd Sands
Friendly dog at Arburd Sands

I hadn’t seen brindle dogs like this before this trip. Not sure where that coloration came from, but he has the mastiff head and body type.

I feel like I’m seeing fewer of the pure mastiffs since my first trip. When the Russians pulled out in 1991, I was told that they left their guard dogs, mostly German Shepherds, behind. And I remember seeing a couple of what looked like purebred Shepherds between the airport and UB in 2006. There has obviously been a lot of uncontrolled interbreeding. It looks to me like the dogs are gradually reverting to the basic dog form that travellers see all over the world in the streets, the countryside, at dumps, etc.

Dog seen by side of the road near Gorkhi-Terelj
Dog seen by side of the road near Gorkhi-Terelj

And, for something completely different, at Red Rock Ger Camp, there was this chow chow, the only one I’ve seen in Mongolia. Never found out who he belongs to, but a fairly wide area around the camp seemed to belong to him, judging by his thorough and conscientious marking routine.

Chow chow at Red Rock Ger Camp
Chow chow at Red Rock Ger Camp


From The Global Village Dept.- twice when I’ve been in the State Department Store, I’ve seen young girls with tiny “fashion accessory” dogs tucked in their arms, a la Paris Hilton. Sigh.

And finally, many of you know that I have a rough collie, named Niki, the same breed as Lassie. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon this banner in Ulaanbaatar:

Pet shop banner, Ulaanbaatar
Pet shop banner, Ulaanbaatar

Friday Features- FLASH!

JUST RECEIVED WORD“Morning Break”, below, has been accepted into the Mendocino Art Center Animal Art exhibit!  It will be on view there in Mendocino, California from Sept. 3-27.

AND…if you live in central Humboldt County, tonight is the opening reception for Wild Visions 2, a group show of nationally recognized nature and wildlife artists, including yours truly, at the Umqua Gallery, Arcata from 6-9pm. Lots of new work by all of us and some oldies, but goodies too. We snagged a great feature in the local paper this morning!

The other artists are Linda Parkinson, watercolor, who has done many commissions of birds and had her work published in American Falconry magazine; Shawn Gould, acrylic, who has done freelance art for National Geographic; Paula Golightly, oil and acrylic, whose day job is working as a biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service; John Wesa, well-known local serigrapher; and Derek Bond, egg tempera, who has recently had work accepted into the first Artists for Conservation juried show.

This is the first time all of us have shown together and we hope it won’t be the last.


The two Allen’s hummers are showing up right around 1:30 every afternoon. How do they know? Can you imagine how tiny their wristwatches must be? Right now, if I only had room for one hummingbird friendly plant it would be Crocosmia “Lucifer”. If you have a little room for a truly red, red, red flower, you might buy a few bulbs.

WHAT ARE THESE? Answer on Monday


Ivory Triumph


Lili Marlene


Leaping Salmon

Oiellet Panachee

Hamburger Phoenix


“Am writing an essay on the life-history of insects and have abandoned the idea of writing on ‘How Cats Spend their Time’.”

W. N. P. Barbellion (Bruce Frederick Cummings) 1889-1919

Well, here’s some evidence:

Eowyn and Michiko



Leopard at Berlin Zoo

Lion in the Masai Mara, Kenya

I think you get the idea.

(All photos copyright Susan Fox)

Cute Alert-Kitten Update

The kittens I’m fostering have gained ground faster than we expected. Merlin has doubled his weight in two weeks, from one pound to two. The shelter staffer who asked me to do the foster came over today and weighed all three. Their coats are now soft and fluffy and their energy level is normal (which is to say, they are total maniacs for hours, then completely crashed out).

I wanted to see how fast I could bring them along and it looks like a combination of three things turned the trick: a big helping of wet food every day in addition to free-feeding kibble; room in a covered pen to run crazy, climb and otherwise get lots of exercise and being handled, snuggled and petted at least twice a day.

Here they are as of today:



and Merlin

If you live in Humboldt County and are interested in any of these guys, go to my contact page on my website and email me. They are now about 8 weeks old and ready to go to great forever homes!