Bartelby was a very athletic cat. One way you can read this, of course, is he often got into very weird places. For instance, once when he was a very small kitten we were woken up in the middle of the night by the sounds of meowing. Turning the lights on we found Bartelby sitting on a curtain rod maybe eight feet (about two and half meters) off of the floor.
Another time I found Bartelby on top of a cabinet. He stood there proudly, head pressed firmly against the ceiling, staring into the light. I grabbed a camera (an Olympus 2020 with its groundbreaking 2 mp sensor) and took a quick picture.
I liked this photo quite a bit. In fact, I used it as the basis for several drawings and paintings. Here is a charcoal drawing I did using the photo as a source of inspiration.
The last painting I made based on the picture was my favorite. The people in my painting class, who all tried for a decorative version of Impressionism, hated the bright colors, but these colors all existed in the original photo. I quiet liked it. The eyes seem to glow as if from an inner fire.
In fact, I liked it so much I decided to enter it into a contest for the “Wilton Arts and Film Festival” several years back. I was quite pleased when it won 2nd place for animal pictures.
I was happily congratulating myself on getting an award for the first painting I ever submitted to a contest when I noticed something. All of the local newspapers used a photos of this painting when doing write ups about the festival. I think the bright colors stood out more than the more traditional pictures in the show.
Not to stop there, Bartelby ended up winning the “People’s Choice Award”. Festival attendees were allowed to vote for their favorite painting and Bartelby proved to be the favorite.
After the festival ended I gave the painting to my mom. I had given her another painting earlier. I hated the first painting so I wanted her to replace it with something better. Unfortunately both paintings are on display in her house, plus a third which I like even less than the second.
My mom used to call me to tell me every time she had a visitor comment on the painting. Now she just gives me a generic, “everyone comments on it,” whenever I visit.
Bartelby passed away a little over a year ago. He was 14, which is on the young end of old age for a cat but not shockingly young.
Bartelby the cat may be gone, but his memory and painting live on.
Bartelby on the Ceiling – Photo, Charcoal drawing, oil painting by Trent P. McDonald