The image we have in our heads of ourselves, our friends, our family and our pets is often very different from the reality. Such is the case with my attempt at an HC portrait. A few years ago, I was asked to participate in a paint your pet workshop at one of those spirited painting venues, where the beverages flow and the art, well, let’s just say, it gets better or worse depending on how much you wet your whistle. I, of course, had the perfect picture of HC to paint – a classic pose, with a look of superiority, regality and general vibe of who do you think you are?
I followed the instructor’s painting descriptions carefully: first draw a circle, then make the eyes, the ears, the whiskers. Oh, I was doing so good. It was a cat head after all and I had been drawing those since I was five. But, then came the shoulders. Uh, oh. With one stroke of the brush, my classic cat Picasso had turned into a well-fed pissed off mouse. No amount of widening the shoulders, fine-tuning the brush strokes could correct it either. The more I worked on it, the more Ratatouille appeared.
The poor instructor did her best to make me feel better about it too; telling me what a beautiful orange cat I had painted. I stood for the group photo after the class, enduring the humiliation of my creation and brought the painting home to never see the light of day again.
Until I looked at it a little bit more, really studying my creation and realized what that instructor saw just might be right. It was a beautiful orange cat-mouse. My very first one. And, she was the prettiest to ever grace a canvas. This was my vision of HC; a fierce, loyal, regal cat-mouse with wide shoulders, a head not quite as round as it should be, but with carefully dotted freckles on the nose.
My HC Ratatouille is proudly displayed in my home today. Sometimes the image we have in our heads is worth saving, remembering and sharing. It’s messy, complicated, and anything but perfect. And, it’s just right. Beautifully right.