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!

Sketches from Live Pets! :-)

Julie Chapman recently posted a couple of sketches of her dog on her blog (no, we won’t go there). A series of comments followed about the value of drawing.

You can read my comments here: . They’re #5 of 6. She just finished doing her summer animal drawing workshop outside of Kalispell, Montana at the Triple D Game Ranch. I attended a few years ago and found it very worthwhile.

So, she challenged the readers of her blog to get out the charcoal and draw along. I accepted.  It took a few more days than I’d hoped, but here’s the best of what I came up with over about an hour this morning. One challenge was drawing kittens that are black and fluffy. A little hard to see the structure. I also found that they would get up and come running to the front of the crate every time they saw me watching them. The trick is to ignore all that and go for the gesture. These took maybe 15 seconds.

Then I went into the house and there was Persephone, aka The Princess, taking her morning princess nap on the bed. She then sat up and I got a quick start on a head study. Didn’t get all the stripes in, though.

Finally, next to the window on the floor, Niki the collie was zonked out. This one is mostly coat (he’s got a big one!), but the curves were nice.

I used a 4B Wolff’s Carbon pencil for all the sketches and a Canson Universal Recycled Sketchbook. The paper has a good amount of tooth for the pencil.


Today’s thought is from Edgar Payne’s seminal book, Composition of Outdoor Painting, which every artist who paints outdoors or anywhere else, for that matter, should have. It’s expensive and might be hard to find, but it is as good a presentation of the traditional craft of oil painting as you will find.

“While talent or genius must exist, at best they are merely embryonic factors and no one can guide these into productive artistry without the initiative, perseverance and determination of the student. To say that the artist is born and not made, is only partly true. Actually, while it is an important qualification, there is no proof of real worth in talent until it has been developed and expanded by a tremendous amount of serious study and hard work.” (Bold added by me)

Art and Kittens, How Can I Lose?


I have spent most of my professional life for the last ten years trying to gain some competence in the craft of oil painting. Although some artists proudly describe themselves as “self-taught”, I’m not one of them except in the sense that, in the end, we all have to figure out for ourselves what marks to make on the canvas (or other support) and how and with what to make them in order to express our vision. I’ve found that good instruction is a great timesaver, so I’ve tried to learn from those who have gone before me, either as a student in art school or workshops or by gathering a small collection of “how to do it” or “how I do it” books to learn from past and present masters. It’s those books that I plan to “draw” on in order to share some of what I have found useful, valuable and thought-provoking over the years.

So, we will begin with a quote from Robert Henri’s (pronounced Hen-rye) The Art Spirit:

“Technique must be solid, positive, but elastic, must not fall into formula, must adapt itself to the idea. And for each new idea there must be new invention special to the expression of that idea and no other. And the idea must be valuable, worth the effort of expression, must come from the artist’s understanding of life and be a thing he greatly desires to say.”

(Note: many of these quotes date from a time when women were barely tolerated in the fine arts, so the male pronoun dominates; however, that does not invalidate the content)


These three came into the shelter on June 4 and weren’t in very good shape, either health-wise or willingness to be handled by people. In fact, they started out labeled “feral and fearful”. Shelter staff was able to get them to the point where they could be picked up and petted. I brought them home a week ago on the 17th and will have them until they weigh 2 pounds plus a few ounces, which is the minimum for neutering. They were at around 1 pound, 3 oz,, their coats were dry and I could feel their rib cages since they had no fat. I could feel the vertebrae on the littlest one, who was visibly weaker than his two sisters.

It is one week later and they are much improved, thanks to room to play and high-octane wet food everyday. Coats are soft and tummies filling out. They come running, demanding to be petted now and like tummy rubs. They also have names (fosters get to name their charges); Raven, Kestrel and Merlin. So, here they are at age seven weeks or so:

Raven, whose name suggested the bird theme:

Kestrel, who has vocal opinions about almost everything:

And Merlin, quieter so far, but he was the weakest of the three when he arrived

Foster Kittens Go To New Home

The last of my first foster kittens, two of four, went out for adoption today and were adopted together! The wife wanted Juliet and the husband wanted Pippen, so it was easy for the woman I fostered them for to convince them to take both. They’ll join another young cat and a 100 lb. dog who loves cats. My guys adjusted quickly to my 75 lb. collie, so a big dog should be no problem.

 Pippin  Juliet

Pippin and Juliet, above

I was told that they kept everyone entertained at the event, trashing the contents of their crate and playing up a storm. I’m so proud of them. It was a very rewarding experience and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

For those of you checking in for pond photos, I got some today and hope to post them tomorrow. This darn cold has really worn out its welcome.