Mad Cat, Bad Cat

graphite drawing + digital mattingMurderous Mack

I prowl the alley on dark nights, looking for trouble spots and fights

And hissing, spitting, yowling, loud, my claws and fangs splitting the crowd,

So don’t be fooled if I look fine: wildfire is in my feline line–

My zoot suit is as cool as ice; my blood, though? Hot, not cool; not nice–

I’m fast, I’m fine, the cat that has searchlights for eyes, wild stripes for jazz,

A heart of iron, soul of steel, and toughness that’s dead deep, for real–

I’m fuzzy, but I warn you that I ain’t no prissy pussycat;

I’m lean and mean; I’m slick and sleek. But sweet? I’ll kick you to next week!

Get me riled up, it won’t be pretty–Bad Cat, yeah, but never Kitty–

All the same, at home a tub of cream is nice; a belly rub;

I’m tiger tough, to say the least, but hey! I ain’t no senseless beast–

Don’t cross me, ’cause I’m fierce, although I’m not an animal, you know!digital illustration

Look What I’ve Done!

graphite drawingWhile I will readily admit to having laid an egg, and a prizewinner at that, many a time in my life, I have neither done so in physiological terms nor, as the bird in today’s illustration appears to have done, in the supernatural way that allows said egg to levitate spontaneously.

On the other hand (or wing), I have managed to score a few modest accomplishments of my own, which, while hardly supernatural, at least impressed the heck out of me. And I rarely, in these cases, fail to make the bragging announcement.

The most remarkable thing about all of this is not that I have ever accomplished anything at all (let alone worthy of note)–though this is indeed impressive enough–it’s that I may have once or twice done something moderately grand and not felt compelled to trumpet self-aggrandisement.

Or did I just cancel out that small virtue by saying so? It’s just so hard to be humble.digital illustration

It’s Early Yet

graphite line drawingBeing an inveterate late riser, and a crabby one when forced to get up before I’m ready, no matter what the hour, I am flummoxed for the most part by those who tout the glories of the break of day. I say, for the most part, because even I have been known to admire the sunrise, and even in my worst and most heel-dragging, snarling moments can see how incredibly pretty and magical the beginning of the day can be. In fact, I can outright admire and relish the whole thing if I know I get to watch the show and go instantly to bed again until I’ve had my requisite number of hours abed.

I’ve a fairly wide variety of reasons for not having children, too, not least among them my aforementioned monstrosity in the beginnings of the day, a time when babies and young persons of all persuasions and personalities are apt to be chirping and squealing adorably and performing all manner of gymnastics and, just possibly, noisy and/or noisome bodily functions that would demand kind attentions from me. I am not that nice at the best of times, never mind any time before I’m willing to rise up and be Awake. You can imagine how the very prospect of pregnancy and its sleep disruptions, and those only leading precipitously to years more of the other sort, would seem to me, most particularly as I was already sliding off the back five of my fourth decade of life by the time I got married and thus would have had any hope of an ongoing partner in the proceedings.

You must know, however, that I think children are a very fine invention and well worth the trouble, and also that I have nothing but the greatest admiration for that mystical marvel that occurs when the tiniest edge of the sun peers over the horizon and then in seeming seconds is blazing up the morning sky. It’s just that I am content to leave all of the heavy lifting in those categories to finer beings for as long as I can. My siblings and other relatives and friends have gifted me with an abundance of outstandingly beautiful, brilliant and engaging children to admire, cuddle, tease, flirt with, trade tall tales with or about, and otherwise delight in before handing them back to their parents just in time for any less scintillating activities to be addressed more expertly and semi-willingly than I would do. And dawn, well–that will likely become part of my repertoire when I hit that Certain Age incapable of sleeping massive amounts any longer, but until then, it belongs to others, except in my imaginings or when I am dragged out of repose by duty or airport hours or some other sort of the unavoidably morning-oriented difficulties life presents.

So I am quite content to enjoy a made-up version of sunrise, even making a picture of it with a very slightly baby-shaped mother-to-be washed in its dainty light as she lingers in some little secret garden. I am not designed either for motherhood or for getting up at the first whisper of dawn, but that needn’t prevent my admiring them both from a safe distance. I can assume my odds of conceiving a child at this advanced age have shrunk to a manageable nothingness by now, and I will count on the passage of my hours, days and years to prepare me for that unthinkable morning when I might willingly resurrect my carcass from the pleasant dead-of-bed state before daybreak. Meanwhile, my fancies are large enough to amuse and amaze me, and I thank the rest of you who have so kindly practiced and reported on either of the foregoing astonishing activities and reported back to me for my edification and vicarious enjoyment. I may get back to you with my own first-daylight infatuations someday, but it’s early for that yet.digital illustration

Defeating Nightmares

graphite drawingNo matter how impressive and terrifying the monster, there’s always something that can defeat it. Most monsters have their own monsters, when it comes right down to it. Their tormentors may be superior powers, but in truth, it may well be the simplest and smallest, most innocuous detail that thwarts the fiercest monster.

It might even be me.

digital illustration

Is it his own greed and hubris, or is it a clever prank I pulled that takes down the mighty monster? Not that it matters, as long as I win the day!

Kept at Bay

Greedy little nightmare,

You stole from me an hour

Of sleep that should have been repose

With twisted, dark and sour

Delirium and horror-shows

Of ghosts and ghouls and glee-

Filled monster tales and dragon-scales—

O! Set this captive free!

For if you deign to torture me

Incessant, sleepless grind,

I’ll out you in a rotten verse

And you will lose your mind.

Luminosity

To my beloved youngest sister on her birthday:

Taking life from the real to the magical and from drabness to brilliance, luminosity is the agent of glorious change. Little Sister is such an agent in many lives as well, bringing beauty and joy to us solely by existing, let alone having the sweetness and humor and wisdom that fill her with the warm inner light I so treasure. Simply, my world would be far smaller and more limited to the dull version of reality if it weren’t for the presence of her gracious illumination!

With that in mind, here is a series of illustrations of that progression of luminosity to celebrate the gifts of sisterly love.

graphite drawing

digital illustration

digital illustration

digital illustration

Liar Liar (This is Dire)

line drawing

Lying in State

I named the date

I stated my case

I sprinkled falsehoods

All over the place—

I tried to be honest

I tried to be true

But the actual facts

Never do, never do—

I told them whoppers

I gave them chase

But the truth is plain

As the nose on my face—

I just couldn’t help it

I let myself go

Let my epitaph read: Here

Lies Pinocchiodigital illustration

A Hard Day’s Work

graphite drawingAnyone can be forgiven for thinking that today’s title is a phrase entirely foreign to me in every way. As an avowed lazy person and general slacker, I am known for working with dedication and intensity only when absolutely necessary and unavoidable, and then of course immediately reverting to a supine position as soon as humanly possible. I can, however, honestly claim a couple of points of connection with the workforce, really I can.graphite drawingFirst, of course, is that as a person who enjoys storytelling in both verbal and visual forms, I find much inspiration in the beauty of working people and the myriad tasks they perform, whether willingly or unwillingly. Their beauty, the admirable strength and the grace inherent in laboring people and their achievements, is worthy not only of recognition and illustration but also of admiration and praise. So I suppose this other understanding that I, in my limited way, have of hard work, this combined amazement and gratitude, is really what drives my urge to illustrate such people and their deeds. Call it my thank you card.digitally colored graphite drawing

How Quickly We Learn

Even when we’re young we pick up clues pretty swiftly regarding what sort of behavior and attitude is expected of us in our interactions with others. As a child, I learned ever so quickly that I am not the boss of anyone else and practically everyone else is the boss of me, and not much has ever changed in that department. Whether happily or unfortunately, depending entirely on your point of view, I also figured out as speedily as most kids do that as long as I behaved in the expected manner when anyone was watching I could get away with a fair amount of far more self-indulgent–if not subversive–ways. Sure does simplify my life!graphite drawingShow of Proper Respect

The Mistress in her jewelry and finery and furs

Thinks everyone should bow and kiss the ground—that’s also hers—

And genuflect before her grand tiara and her mace,

So that is what we tend to do—at least do to her face.digital illustration from a graphite drawingAll frivolous jocularity on the topic aside, however, getting trained by our elders and betters, in particular our mothers, is both more complicated and more happily meaningful for those of us who are blessed with great moms. Me, I’ve got two. The mother who gave birth to me and raised me from my days as an only mildly subversive little sprout into the silly but exceedingly happy big kid you see before you today is worthy of recognition as one of the great teachers not only for giving me a framework on which to hang my sense of right and wrong and general grasp of manners but also the education and freedom and knowledge of being unconditionally loved that enabled me to choose how to build on those foundations as I grew. My second Mom, brought to me courtesy of (her son) my beloved husband, gets credit for instilling the same curiosity and drive in her children and, in turn, for reinforcing in me through her example what it means to be a lively and lovely person who is good company, an active part of the household and community at every turn, and a tireless learner and adventurer who earns her place in those settings with remarkable grace. Whether I can live up to the standards set by either of my Moms remains to be seen, but they certainly give me the tools that should make it possible if anything can.

If it can’t, I guess I’ll have to fall back on my naturally ridiculous ways and just pretend to be better than I am for as long as I can keep up the front. Those of you who are looking for reliably good, sound company, go see Mom W and Mom S. And also my sisters and my sister-in-law, great mothers to their children, and all of those other mothers, who by birth, adoption, random acquisition and teaching, raise better people, who in turn make the world a better place altogether. All of whom I thank profusely not only on Mother’s Day but every day for being such great examples even for those of us who are a little too childish to be motherly examples ourselves. Go ahead, you can say it right in front of me. I’ve learned that much, at least!

The Fantastic is Surprisingly Real

pen & ink drawingDefying Probabilities

The most improbable outcome

Of delirious, fanciful dreams

Is not the impossible can’t-be

That perpetually it seems—

And I can prove this conundrum,

In my personal life, is true,

For it happens that though it’s wildly unreal,

I’m actually loved by you.digital artwork from a drawing

More Fun with Drawing Toys

Not much needs to be said here. I’m on another of my tangential rambles with my art practice, and what pleases me a great deal about crawling my way into the digital era is that not only can I document my work better than I used to do, I can retain it in numerous, widely varied states and play with it without nearly so much difficulty in changing my mind and erasing or altering things as I like. Talk about a bonus for a mercurial goof-off like me.graphite drawing

digital artwork from a drawing