About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

de musset sees a kitten's inner beauty

Alfred de Musset (French, 1810-57) is a major figure of French literary history.  Casting an eye over his output is exhausting; in 1908 his collected and translated works were privately printed in New York in ten volumes.  He was considered a man of great empathy and pity, not least in his marked love for animals.  Here's a telling passage from a biography written by his brother Paul:
The pitying horror with which he regarded suffering, and his desire to relieve it, did not stop with human beings. Even beasts felt the effects of it. His housekeeper one day apprised him of the critical circumstances of a puppy about to be thrown into the river. He solemnly stayed the execution, and took the condemned creature home. So he was provided with a dog.
The cat's turn came next. Alfred requested that he might have one of the young ones of the first cat who had kittens, not being able to take charge of the entire family. They sent him a frightful little beast, — shaggy, and of a dirty gray color. "I am not very fortunate," he said, contemplating his boarders. "I like only beautiful things, and here I am encumbered with an ugly pug and a regular area cat. But what's to be done? I did not select them, and I cannot help respecting and admiring in these poor beasts — ugly as they are — the phenomenon of life and the work of mysterious nature."
The benefactor had no reason to repent his generosity. By dint of grace and amiability, the kitten won pardon for the homeliness of her garb, and the dog proved to be endowed with all the canine virtues and remarkably intelligent. In fact, the celebrated Marzo was the admiration of all the servant-maids in the neighborhood and even made himself useful by going alone every evening to the newspaper stand with three sous in an envelope, and bringing back the "Presse" in his teeth. Without the assistance of language, he could get the house-door opened, and conclude a business transaction successfully.
"Regular area cat." I'm using that from now on.
-- from Musset, Paul de, 1804-1880. The Biography of Alfred De Musset. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1877. 294-5.

Monday, January 22, 2018

year of the dog by zen brush

image copyright and by kindest permission of seiko morningstar
Here is a happy Shiba Inu offering a play bow so that you'll come and celebrate the Year of the Dog with him.  If, like me, you love Japanese ink paintings, you'll love this messenger - and the rest of the work by his creator, Zen monk Seiko Morningstar.  Deceptively simple, but full of spirit and life force, Zen ink painting offers you immediate connection with its subjects.  You see the essence of flower, of tree, of wave, of dog.  Very refreshing and freeing. 
Have a look at the playful beings on offer at Seiko's shop, ZenBrush.
Would you like to learn a little more about this style of painting?  This essay at the Metropolitan isn't a bad place to start.

Seiko mentioned to me that it's an Earth Dog year:
The Year of Earth Dog begins Feb. 16, 2018 (Chinese New Year) and lasting to Feb. 4, 2019. The Dog is the eleventh in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac sign and those born in the Dog years are People born in the Year of the Dog are usually independent, sincere, and loyal friends.
I'll be reaching out again around then, but it's never too soon to wish you all joy and peace for the new Year of the Dog.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

the dog jackson by emily hackbart

image copyright and by kindest permission of the artist
I admit it, I seem to be on a watercolor kick this week, and here's my latest pleasure: the pet portraits created by Missouri artist Emily Hackbart.  Simple and clarified, her portraits are a distillation of cuteness and life force.  Jackson, above, is my pick to showcase, but I'd recommend you also check out...oh, how about Felix and Tabitha, or Delila
Here's Emily on her work and herself:
I'm Emily Hackbart, the owner and operator of The Paper Woodland. I LOVE drawing and painting more than anything, and love to share my work in hopes it will bring a smile to your face! :)
I grew up on a farm in Northern California and spent most of my time with my animal friends, playing with them and drawing them.
My style developed over time, I mostly did more realistic pencil sketches and pen and ink drawings when I was growing up. It wasn't until I went to college that I first tried watercolor. I took a beginning watercolor class and instantly fell in love! It quickly became my favorite medium.
I graduated from college with a BFA in Art, and promptly became a flight attendant, lol. I did a little art here and there for the next several years, but nothing serious. In the meantime I married an amazing man, and had two sweet babies. When I was on maternity leave with my second son, I decided I didn't want to go back to work as a full-time flight attendant, and so The Paper Woodland was born! It has been an amazing, wonderful journey, and besides my family, is my greatest passion in life!
I now live on a big farm in Missouri with my husband and three adorable little boys. Everyday is filled to the brim with animals and farming and little boys, but at night I love nothing more than to sit at my desk and draw and paint little illustrations that are inspired by the life I live.
It is a full, busy life, and I love every minute of it! ♥
Joyful words from a joyful creator.  Want a portrait done but you're not a dog or a cat?  You're in luck, human.  Check out The Paper Woodland.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

as nice as a nun's hen

british library (PD)
"As nice as a nun's hen." Now there's a proverb I haven't heard before.  I found it in Select Proverbs of All Nations: Illustrated With Notes And Comments, a book compiled by John Wade in 1825.  I also found such gems as the following:
  • As wise as Waltham's calf, that ran nine miles to suck a bull.
  • Child's pig but father's bacon. (Refers to the promises that parents make and often fail to keep.)
  • The more you stroke pussy's back, the higher she raises her tail. (Gaelic, but no explanation given.)
  • Trust not a horse's heel nor a dog's tooth.
  • Two cats and a mouse, two wives in one house, two dogs and a bone, never agree in one.
  • I'm no every man's dog that whistles on me. (Scotch)
  • Biting and scratching got the cat with kitten.

Monday, January 15, 2018

basil cat by florandfawn

image copyright and by kindest permission of the artists
Here's Basil the cat, surrounded by orange poppies.  You might think they're reflecting onto his fur, but no - he's a grey tortie, and he comes by those orange whispers in his fur naturally.  (There are so very many ways to be a tortoiseshell.  Ever seen this extremely well-detailed page at messybeast.com?) This delicate watercolor is by Karen Eland and Katie Daisy of Bend, Oregon, who offer their creations at Flor & Fawn.  Their bright, pretty work shows all kinds of creatures framed in stylized flowers and greenery.  It feels to me a bit like a modern take on Art Deco flowers. I liked Basil specially because of the roots stretching out under his grassy seat.  Even our house friends are connected to the greater natural world, and we are, too.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

a little black kitten by agnes bodor

image copyright and by kindest permission of the artist
"I just like cats and drawing them," Seattle artist Agnes Bodor writes.  It shows, particularly in her watercolors of black cats.  With well-handled balance between controlling the paint and letting it do what it wants, Bodor models and shapes even the most sable feline.  You can easily see the way light hits shiny fur, and the way legs bunch up when a cat assumes the loaf position or turns to investigate something.  The watchful kitty above is one of my favorite items in her Etsy shop. Here's another one you should see, but ah, you must also see and appreciate this white cat.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

vintage wordless wednesday redux

from the museum's collection