This is a painting I’ve been intending to introduce here for a while, though I painted it in 2000, right about this time of year. With its cheery reds, the bright sun coming in the door and the paperwhite narcissus sprouting out of the pot in the middle of the table, it’s always dated to February for me. It was also one of the first paintings I did after I’d left my day job and began working at home, and I remember the almost guilty feeling of taking a couple of hours in the afternoon to paint, which I’d dreamed of doing for years and hoped to make a part of my daily schedule.
Those calendula, which had braved a pretty hard frost, opened fully when the sun shone in the windows the next day, and that was the first inspiration for this piece. I photographed the calendula, intending to paint only them and have a number of closeups of the flowers. But when I looked over the photographs in preparation for painting, I noticed the cloth, the paperwhites in the pot, the light glare on the table, and of course, Sophie at the door, but I really intended to keep it as just a still life. It developed into a much larger work than I had intended, but it was a fun challenge to create something from a different perspective and in a different style than I had before, visualizing a bright, simplified watercolor. I pictured an “interior”, not just a still life of objects in an arrangement but a moment in time involving more of the space, and I really tried hard to keep Sophie out of it, but it just wasn’t complete until I painted her in, hence the title, “Interior With Cat”.
Being able to begin painting as soon I had the photos developed was another joy because many works had waited years to come to fruition as I worked a day job and had freelance assignments at night.
I enjoyed painting the flowers on that cloth, in part because those flowers were actually handpainted as well. The cloth was woven linen handpainted in Poland, one of the souvenirs of traditional work my mother’s sister had brought back in her travels to find family in Ukraine and Poland; I treasure those items. Though this is brightly colored and might work better for summer, I like it for winter because those bright colors enliven short winter days.
I managed to have fresh calendula flowers as described above, and I also remember that we had a mild winter that first winter I worked at home, and the calendula was growing in a sheltered spot near my chimney and continued producing flower buds. The other flowers are paperwhite narcissus, one of many flowering bulbs I had always forced in the house in spring to put around on all the windowsills and tables—by February I was ready for blooming flowers and bright colors—and also to place outdoors in my windowboxes (a little more on that, below).
I did enjoy painting those marbles too, in fact I could have done one painting of just those marbles. I found dozens in the yard in the house I had rented, so excited at possibly finding truly vintage marbles, but they were not vintage, actually quite recent. Still, I’ve always loved having them in the bottom of a vase or a jar of plant cuttings and still use them for that today.
And as I’d mentioned I had not intended to have a cat in this painting. As I worked my way around, though, and looked at the composition I realized I’d have a weak, rather blank spot in the upper left because just the door wasn’t strong enough to balance the patterns, shapes and colors at the bottom. So, in keeping with the loose style of this painting, and with the fact that Sophie and the door are both blurry, I added a loose rendition of Sophie looking out the door. I couldn’t picture it without her, and I’m glad I have her immortalized in another of my paintings.
I was very pleased with the looser, more decorative quality of this painting. Up to then all my watercolors had been very tight, detailed, realistic images. Of course I had set goals for my art career when I’d started working at home, and this was one of them—loosen up!
One other thing to note with this painting—paperwhite narcissus and most other plants growing from bulbs can be very toxic to cats, causing renal failure in a matter of hours. I knew about lilies at the time, but not about other bulbs, and I force-bloomed daffodils, tulips, crocuses, hyacinth, snowdrops, squills, you name it. I know my cats had chewed on them through the years because they chewed on everything, and I never noticed any issues. A couple of years after this, however, I suddenly lost my dilute tortie Nikka in February to acute renal failure and I will always wonder if this was what caused it and I removed all of these materials from my home. If I force blooms for display now, it is done outside, in my cold frame, and they stay outside too.
Original, prints, cards and merchandise
“Interior with Cat” is new in my Etsy shop and the original is still available. I used two elements in the mat and frame that I liked in the cloth pattern: the red outline around the outside, and the outlines on the fruit, which were actually a deep olive green but I used black core mats for the outline effect, and finished it with a narrow white painted wood frame. Click here to see the original on Etsy.
I also have it available as a full-size 8 x 12 digital art print or an 8×10 digital art print that will fit in a premade frame by trimming a bit off the top of the image. “Interior With Cat” is also one of the images included in my Feline Greetings Art Cards as a 5 x 7 image.
I can also have a full-size giclée made upon request. And I will soon have keepsake boxes and wall-mounted art in this design.
Also browse Featured Artwork
I also feature artwork which has not been commissioned, especially my paintings of my own cats. If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and art assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, I feature commissioned portrait or other piece of artwork on Wednesday. Choose the categories featured artwork.
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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.