Depending on what reference you read, the breed’s lineage can be traced to ancient Egypt, its ancestors’ likeness sliding along the walls of pharaohs’ tombs. Other writings claim the breed’s origins are more contemporary, with their source genetics coming from felines in Great Britain. A compromise between these two tales claims a soldier brought the breed’s foundation cat back to Europe from Abyssinia, though modern DNA testing shows the cat’s origins mostly likely coming from Asia. Whatever the case, owners love Abys for their blend of intelligence combined with their refined “wild” look.
When I first approached making my 12 x 12 Collection, I knew I wanted to include an Oriental type cat like the Aby among the pieces I’d paint. Because I’m treating each painting like a precious curio set in an elaborate bezel for safe keeping, the Aby’s unclear history and possible link to ancient felines made it an attractive subject for me.
To start this work, I made a series of drawings to decide how I wanted to pose the cat. Seated with its head tipped just so was the winning composition. After refining the master drawing, I attach it to a birch wood panel, seal it and begin applying paint in washes. The final look is somewhat redolent of a subject captured in amber.
Once the painting is complete and while waiting for it to dry, I move on to painting and constructing its bezel (frame). For each painting in the 12 x 12 Collection, I am designing a frame that compliments the subject it’s designed for.