It's World Ranger Day, a time to think about the amazing work those dedicated and terribly brave people do to save our endangered wildlife from the miserable greedy poachers. Without them I think what wildlife we have left just wouldn't be here. Keep up the wonderful work, our wild world depends on you.
My cats have all responded to the brush in different ways. Sasha leaned into the brush really hard with her chin and cheeks but wasn't that keen on me actually brushing her unless she was very relaxed. Fergus doesn't mind a bit of a brush but has a limited tolerance and usually lets me know he's had enough by sauntering off. Rueben, well he takes everything without complaint and enjoys a good brushing which is fortunate since he's getting old and less able to groom himself. I think brushing your cat reinforces bonds and it also helps you to relax.
'That Once Burned So Bright'
acrylic on canvas 76cm x 61cm
This painting of the highly endangered Sumatran tiger has been a big challenge to paint. I've learnt some valuable lessons about painting 'big' and found that when I thought it was finished in was in fact far from it. Finally I am happy with him, no more tweaking to do. This painting is my entry for the Kenilworth Trophy Art Exhibition later in the year and I'm so glad I started it early otherwise I may not have finished it in time with all the changes I made to it. I thought it was finished but alas it was far from it so I have spent quite a bit of time correcting things I didn’t like and working his ‘presence’ up. You would not believe how many times I thought I’d finished only to see something else that needed adjusting. I have huge respect for those artists who do the most enormous larger than life size works. There would be many challenges and many pitfalls.
I'd like to think animal have emotions, perhaps not the same way we humans experience them but emotions none the less. Being an animals lover and having had animals all my life I've seen examples of emotions in them, particularly grief and fear, and of course contentment. The story of Mr G the goat and Jellybean the donkey friends separated due to a rescue situation demonstrates clearly that animals have emotions and it would be a terrible mistake to think otherwise.
The sphynx cat is certainly unique. My wonderful framer Sam has a passion for them so I painted this image for him which proudly hangs in his shop space. It's was one of my favourite cat paintings because I really enjoyed capturing the character without the fuss of fur. Apparently it's international nude day so how appropriate to feature the sphynx cat which after all is pretty nude.
I just love seeing stories about unlikely animals friendship and this one about a cat and a lynx is pretty special. We humans could learn a lot about relationships and friendships from animals.
Being a cat owner all my life I've realised how fast they can learn habits, good and bad. Little treats I've enjoyed indulging them with have quickly become expectations. After all they are a lot like us, creatures of habit and routine which can of course be used to train our furry friends. It's not really a bad habit but every night when we sit down to watch telly the cats consider it their cue to make themselves comfy on our laps. Sometimes we might be late with tea so have it on our laps watching a show we don't want to miss. Rueben stands there paddling at our legs waiting to be lifted up onto the couch which is pretty irritating but he's just exercising his learned habit that we have in fact encouraged. Which brings to mind Fergus who decided recently that he didn't want to go out to 'Pussy Hilton' at bedtime. Now Pussy Hilton is the cats place to sleep at night furnished with woolly blankets, but it's winter and he likes being on the lap with us where he's cosy. Previously when I got up he did too and willingly went to his 'quarters'. That changed a week ago when he hid under the table and gave us the runaround so that I had to draw him from his hiding place with food. Not being silly he knew what was going on so snaffled the food and ran to hide again only I grabbed him firmly and marched him to bed. Retraining was necessary to avoid this new habit getting out of hand so next night he was offered food and he came straight away so I picked him up and the food bowl and fed him where I want him to sleep. Problem solved within days. Now as soon as I get up he comes running knowing there will be food involved. Eventually I will taper the food off once the habit is established firmly in his mind. So the message here is think before you start or allow a certain behaviour because it can end up being immensely annoying.
Any news about wildlife poachers being caught is good news but I wish the sentences were a lot tougher. If authorities are really serious about stopping the terrible trade in wildlife then I think they should increase sentences to 10 - 20 years. When you consider how few of these beautiful animals are left in Asia no sentence would be too harsh for those involved in this abysmal activity. Tigers are priceless to our world and whatever it takes to stop their senseless slaughter should be done and that goes not just for tigers but all wildlife threatened by the barbaric, greedy and illegal trade in animals.