Color in Black and White, With Cats

Cat’s Eye Crying Color, or The Antediluvian Feather-Duster

I wish I was still doing this kind of work. I did the original drawing using graphite and hard lead drawing pencils. Then I had mechanical prints made from that drawing. I hand-colored them with pencils, making each one different.

My old artwork was done in the company of cats. Often they were snoozing on the drawing table or on me as I worked, exercising watchful feline supervision.

I wrote, but I was mainly a painter and mixed media artist before I became ill. After that I no longer had the fine finger coordination needed for visual artwork.

So I wrote the book Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions. Writing helped me stitch mind and memory together across time. Volume 1 includes the years when I could draw and paint and collage. When I began this website I used photographs as illustrations. I’ve come to really enjoy doing photo essays. I know my photos are far from technically on point, as I don’t have a background in photography basics. It’s hard for me to learn new things now. I just use a few photo editing techniques the hubs taught me to make the color and light and dark balance closer to something I like. Which usually means, extreme bright color. I never really get the pictures exactly as I want them.

However the book is not like a photo essay. There are only pictures on the cover, no pictures inside, because they are so expensive to print. Imagery is built of words in the book. I wrote it like a painter. It dances with cats of all colors. Friends say it’s “vivid”. It’s not only about cats, it’s about the natural world, and going to live in a wilderness full of leaves and animals and insects and amphibians. It’s about art and music and work and community in the southern US in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It’s also about the great forest of North America. This first volume goes to 2004-2005. I wasn’t from this area, but I’ve lived here 50 years. It’s southern, it’s weird; but even though I’m partial to black cats, it’s not Southern Gothic, or old-style Gothic either. It’s heavily researched, and I tried to make the science solid.

Franklin in March last year

As I wrote, our savvy cats were in close attendance. Major influences on the prose are: Shakespeare, and Faulkner; fellow artist friends who were and still are into surrealism and experimental writing; the crisp, precise description found in scientific writing; the stellar story-telling abilities of US Southerners; music – I try to make syntax rhythmic, because sometimes a sentence just needs another beat. The writing style changes over the years, like real life does. The biggest influence through all times was, our cats.

The bibliography would fill several pages. I checked out a major textbook on rabies from the library (for Vol. 2), and read other cat narratives, cat mysteries, cat science, cat picture books, James Herriot stories.

So the book’s not exactly like the photo essays you read on this website (and there will be more but busy, difficult times are making us slower to get the needed work done to make space on the computer.)

The book pages are in black and white, like the above picture of Franklin.

We can add color to artwork, and soup it up in photos, as you see below:

Franklin with jazzed light

Though the mechanisms are different, it works that way with books, too; when we read we get color and stories from black and white markings; they flash through our brains in full spectrum.

Check out this post for the ways you can get Catwoods. Shipping is free until the end of March. NOTE: Sorry, free shipping no longer applies. If you are not in the US you will have to email to make arrangements.

Catwoods the Book with free shipping

Lovely Borgo Publishing Catwoods page

Stay tuned for spring photos and uh, more cats and kittens.

About Leah

I'm Leah T. Alford, a writer fascinated by the natural world and animals, especially cats.
This entry was posted in Art, black cats, Book topics, Cats, Nature and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Color in Black and White, With Cats

  1. Your graphite drawing idea was wonderful. I really like the example you featured above.

  2. RMW says:

    You don’t need to worry about having a background in photography basics… I’ve always enjoyed seeing your photos… especially your experiments…. that’s what art is all about… messing around, seeing what happens, being creative. The drawing at the top is lovely too… just a touch of color… well done.

  3. niasunset says:

    I loved too dear Leah, you did great. Thank you, be in safe, take care, Love, nia

    • Catwoods says:

      Thanks Nia, for your kind words, I’m happy you liked the post! I have been so busy and haven’t commented but I read your posts every day and I hope you and your family and friends will stay safe! The virus is here where I live too and we are being very careful. I wish everyone everywhere would be safe from this illness, and all illness.

  4. Midnightlion says:

    Hi, I love your art and what a pretty black cat that is… ITS SO CUUUTEEE! Good luck!

  5. Charlee: “We are definitely in favor of things that are black and white.”
    Chaplin: “Yep!”
    Lulu: “Can’t imagine why …”

  6. Marv says:

    Excellent! I do love your images! I wish I had more time to create art, but alas, life and work have taken over my opportunities. Love your writing!
    Purrs Marv and Mom

    • Catwoods says:

      Marv and Mom, thank you so much for your kind words! I know what you mean about finding time to do art, it’s always hard for us, too. I hope you will get the time to do more. Later I will have more time and I look forward to exploring you website more! Purrs from Franklin and me! ~ Leah

  7. Mee-yow yore so ambitiouss Miss Leah!! Wee admire an ree-sepct you so much! An wee wish you efurry suck-sess! An Franklin you keep on helpin Miss Leah with editin…..
    ***purrsss*** BellaDharma

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words and good wishes, Bella-Dharma and LadyMew! Franklin is very happy that you appreciate his contribution to editing and keeping morale up! Purrs and best wishes for safety and all good things!

  8. Pam Lazos says:

    Leah, that’s so cool! I know what you mean. I used to paint and draw, but now that I have all these responsibilities like a job and kids and a husband I only write because I only seem to have time for one other thing. But sooo looking forward to getting back to the more creative stuff.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thanks Pam, I really appreciate it! It’s so absolutely true, it was really hard to get painting and drawing and mixed media done while working, especially when self-employed. I did it but not on a very large scale, and without trying to do shows or arts fairs. Now I find that trying to promote the book is taking time I’d rather use to write. But, I do try to have some fun with every task. I hope you can get back to doing more visual arts, I think they are the most enjoyable!

  9. I always enjoy seeing your art works, but of course I love seeing Franklin!! He is such a handsome fella!

    • Catwoods says:

      Franklin and I thank you so much, Meezer’sMews&TerrioristicalWoofs! We send purrs and head bonks and wishes for you to stay safe!

  10. Good description of your book Leah. Very elucidating and mindful. Your work is excellent and keep up the brilliant work with your brilliant mind. Saludos! Ashraf

    • Catwoods says:

      Ashraf, thank you so much, it’s nice to read all your kind comments today! Hoping that you will stay safe! I am late getting back to answer as there is so much to keep up with online now!

  11. Timothy Price says:

    That’s a great drawing. Franklin had his “cool cat” look for that photo.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thanks Tim, I’m glad you like the drawing! Franklin is indeed as cool and chill as cats come. He’s still got some feral traits.

  12. 15andmeowing says:

    You are a great artist. You should do more drawings. Stay healthy. XO

    • Catwoods says:

      Ellen, thank you so much, that’s really sweet of you to say! I’m not sure what drawings would look like if I tried them now though . . . We are being very careful, you and your family stay healthy too! XO

  13. Lavinia Ross says:

    Wishing you every success, Leah! The cats and crew here send their best to you and Franklin.

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