Exhibition – Canny Cats

I am somewhat under the paw. My cats run my life – and we are all satisfied with this arrangement.

Back in the late 90s I picked up painting again after a long absence and I started obsessively painting cats. Once I got a good 20 or so up, I thought “I should try and exhibit these”.  I had utterly no idea how to go about contacting galleries or going about it – the net was new enough to not be overly useful for anything other than email. I didn’t even have my own PC at home (probably why I painted so much!!).

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“Brown Richard” – a portrait of Richard III, my big tabby stray.

I ended up printing out a number of copies of some of my paintings and just sending them to local galleries in the hopes that someone would like my stuff enough to allow me to put it up on their walls and try and sell it.

Randomly, that worked.

One of them, The Highway Gallery, in Mount Waverly, were interested.  They contacted me and arranged for me to have a show. The terms were either a minimum hire of the hall, or a certain % commission, whichever was more.  I also had to staff it for the weekends (I was working full time which sort of put them out a bit as clearly they were used to non worker artists who could staff the gallery!).

The exhibition was in mid 2000 – just after I moved house, I ended up having to get someone else to store all the framed paintings while we moved. CHAOS.

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“Red Ester”. A portrait of Ester the Molester, who got this look whenever she thought she was going to get some pats. She was a highly unpleasant cat – I loved her to bits despite the fact she was actually rather horrible. She was ‘free’ to a good home, a workmate gave her to me.

I also had to get all my pictures framed. $$ CHING CHING$$$

Good thing I was working! I was a business analyst in those days. Working on the Y2K project of all things.

I didn’t get around to naming the exhibition cause I’m crap at naming things – so they decided on Canny Cats for me and got it all printed up before I had to chance to say NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I hate that name. It’s my own fault for not giving them a better one!

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“Blue Ester” – a much more in flight, claws out version of Ester complaining that pats were happening.

The exhibition was actually quite a success. This is a photo of photos of the gallery:


I made two of the local papers:


That’s ester looking as grumpy as possible – this is the painting:

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“Staring Ester” – I’d get woken up to this when it was breakfast time. She would lick my eyelid, that always woke me up.

and this one:


The woman who took the photo tried to make me do the pose of the cat with my arm up. SERIOUSLY? No.

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“Lucretia”. This was my housemates cat, a little brown tabby. My current female tabby, Enoch, resembles her a lot.

I sold a good half of the paintings. I had long discussions with the staff about pricing and I set them at affordable prices – there is a tradeoff and a balance in painting pricing. As a total unknown and smallish paintings, I thought this was all about right. they were from about 100 to 25o (AUD$)

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“Lucretia, Yellow” – another version of Lucretia (who was named for Lucretius as the housemate was doing philosophy at the time).

I found the whole exhibition process to be incredibly painful. It was like putting your soul out on display.  I was a bit less tough and ok with negative feed back in those days (though its’ still painful!)

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“Peppie”. It also didn’t help that someone closely related to me looked at this one and said “that’s a bum” and laughed and walked off sniggering.


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“Richard grooming”

But I got more good feedback than bad. And total strangers bought paintings, which was pleasing, as well as friends and even work mates.

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“Blue Richard”.

At the end of the two weeks I ended up having to pay extra from commission, then I reloaded my unsold paintings and came home and whimpered and hid for a bit.

It’s hard to make money out of art when you’re starting, until people start to pay real money for what you do – which I’ve not really got to yet either, but then I’ve not really pushed it till now.

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“Marnie” – my friend’s neighbors cat.

My next exhibit was a lot different, I will put a post up about it soon.

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“Richard grooming II” – This picture got horrified comments from a lot of people!


“Ester the Molester” – this is the first cat painting I did, and the one that started the whole series. I have kept this one. Its just her, that grumpy, evil, wonderfully malevolent cat.

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“Abstract Ester”. We all need to try an abstract. this is the cat deconstructed into bricks.

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“Lucretia pink” – I actually painted this just for my housemate when poor Lucretia vanished. All cats post her ended up being 100% indoor cats.

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“Minnie” – one of the cats I grew up with.

This is not a definative set of pictures – I don’t have one. One day when I’m rich and infamous, I’ll be asked to verify a painting as mine and I’ll say ‘dear lordy lord, I’ve not seen that since the 90s!’ and get a right old shock. I HOPE. 🙂

I will do my next post of cats that I’ve painted  since the exhibition. I was actually a bit more practiced by then at painting and the paintings are a quite different generally.

Exhibiting, eh. Pain, cost, and rewarding, all at the same time.