Who doesn’t get creeped out by the sound of a cat yowling in the night? If you’ve ever been outside and heard a cat fight in the distance, their screams and protests coming out of the dark, you’ll know why cats, black ones in particular, make such an effective symbol for the Halloween season. Aside from their associations with bad luck, stealing the breath from babies when they sleep, and being familiars to the witch population, the way they look, move, stare, and blink as well as meow, cry, yowl and growl, they are spooky characters all on their own.
When I saw the sketch that Shawn drew for a cat pillow (shown above), I was blown away. It was so visually appealing with its simple lines and cartoony style, that I thought he and the drawing were brilliant. However, in my neurotic need to not cannibalize his ideas I changed it somewhat. I really loved the three different cats, particularly the tall, skinny one, so I wanted to keep that. I also liked the setting of a nighttime sky with a full moon, so I kept that too. Rather than have buildings in the background, I decided to have the focus be on the cats so I put them on a fence instead. I mirrored in the fence the curve that Shawn put to the buildings, or at least I tried to do that. I’m still such a babe in the woods when it comes to design and art. I added some stars in the sky to fill that section out more since it wasn’t taken up with buildings, and my alterations were done.
After I drew the skinny and fat cat patterns, I was having a hard time visualizing a cat somewhere in between the two. I thought about mixing it up a bit and showing that other cat standing on the fence rather than sitting like the other two. I imagined it might be a nice contrast and add a bit more to the scene. However, my designs for that third cat sucked and ended up looking freakish so I ditched that and just powered through, hammering out a pattern for the average one that looked like its own distinct form. Hopefully, I did that. I do know that I like what I did with the head, giving it a kind of puffy appearance but then angling the cheeks to points.
Once I cut those out in felt and sewed their pieces together (head, body and tail), I had the once again difficult task of trying to sew something very small…..i.e. their eyes. I decided against doing mouths for the cats because I didn’t want to have to deal with the same problem all over again with their teeth. Luckily, I think the effect is much spookier when you just see yellow eyes coming out of a pool of blackness! I’m going to have to start considering the possibility of using glue because when you deal with felt that tiny, you lose a bit of the look and effect once the thread starts going through the thin material. It feels like my mind isn’t open to other options or ways of thinking just yet. I’m too much on a straight path with these projects…..doing specific things in order to create what I want. I need to try to loosen up some, relax with the whole thing.
Let me just say, I now understand what freelance artists mean when they say they’re tired of drawing a particular thing for a client. By the time I was halfway done sewing the individual planks of wood together for the fence, I was ready to move on to something else, something different!! Even though when you sew you’re doing the same thing over and over, it doesn’t seem that bad because you’re dealing with different materials and various patterns. The repetition was amped up so much with this fence though, that I just didn’t want to see it anymore. I wasn’t even finished with it once I sewed it together because then I had to position it just right on the pillow base and sew that! By the time I had completed that part, I was actually relieved that I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I think I was being too particular with the fence without even fully realizing it. I’m not exactly sure how happy I am with the outcome. I think it conveys the look of a fence just fine, but I feel like something is off or that I could have done better on it.
One final detail on my cat pillow before I put this thing to bed (ha! bad pun fully intended and relished!) When I started to draw the stars, I was having problems getting them to come out right. Shawn suggested I just draw it like every person learns how to draw a star and then erase the inside lines. I never even thought to do that!! It’s a reason I need to keep Shawn around. It also points out that no matter what creativity you could say I have as a person, my mind is very literal in its scope and thinking. Anyway, I started drawing a couple different shapes for the stars and was thinking about drawing a third when I realized I was unintentionally mimicking the shape of the cats! I had done a fat one and a skinny one, so I went with it and drew an average one. I ended up doing the same thing with the holes in the three fence planks, though I don’t think you can see it as much given their small size.
Overall, I would have to say I’m happy with this pillow. I love cats, and animals in general, so there’s a certain appeal just in that alone. I love the effect of these black silhouette-type shapes sitting together in the night, watching everything silently. If you have ever stared into the eyes of a cat, you get this feeling that they definitely know more than you do and are totally aware of that fact. It’s an aspect to the feline species that I utterly enjoy!