I did this cat mug for fun because I love cats and mugs are off 50% today, April 16th. Part of my one design a day challenge.
Below the mugs, I wrote a bit about Louis Wain (1860-1939), a fabulous cat artist who did the original painting, The Bachelor Party, that this cat is based upon. (For the Awww, Monday folks, I hope you like the cats).
Wain’s humorous cats often parodied human behavior and were popular illustrations in his time. He would walk around with is sketchbook and sketched the people he saw but as cats. He loved cats and was a member of the Society for the Protection of Cats,the Governing Council of our Dumb Friends League, and an anti-animal-testing group the National Anti-Vivisection Society.
Despite Wain’s illustrations selling well, he had financial difficulties because he supported his mother and sisters and being somewhat naive, had very little business sense. He often sold his illustrations outright instead of retaining rights over their reproduction and made imprudent investments in the promise of new inventions.
Wain exhibited erratic and occasional violent behavior and his sisters eventually had him committed for insanity to the pauper ward of Springfield Mental Hospital in 1924. When the newspapers found out he was there a year later, the uproar had even H.G. Wells and the Prime Minister appealing to have him moved. He was eventually transferred to Napsbury Hospital in 1930. Napsbury had pleasant gardens and a colony of cats. While he suffered from increasing delusions, he was happy there and his erratic mood swings subsided.
Wain continued drawing cats while in the hospital. His drawings appear in articles on mental health. While many thought he had schizophrenia, Dr. Michael Fitzgerald argued that he probably had Asperger’s syndrome. Creativity and artistic abilities deterioriate with schizophrenia but Wain over time experimented with intricate patterns but still focused on his beloved cats. His artistic skills did not deteroriate. Dr. Walter Maclay, who had a theory on art and insanity based on his 1930s experiments on art and mescaline-induced psychosis, organized Wain’s work into a series to show how art deterioates with schizophrenia. Rodney Dale, writing Wain’s biography Louis Wain: The Man Who Drew Cats, points out that these types of series used to show Wain’s “mental health” ignored that Wain also continued to do conventional illustrations of cats along with his experimentations ten years after hesupposedly no longer could no longer depict cats because he had deteriorated into being able to do patterns only.
In this video, Dr. Fitzgerald gives a talk on Wain and Maclay.
Much of work is now in the public domain in the United States, England and most other countries because they were published after more than creator’s life plus 70 years. Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia, Guatemela and Samoa have longer terms.
You can some of Wain’s cats on Wikimedia Commons: Cats by Louis Wain ; at Bonham’s you can see more Louis Wain’s cats and what they sold at auction for. Note: on Bonham’s you will a term, “after Louis Wain” where the provenance isn’t clear and it might have been done by someone else in the style of Wain. You will see the occasional dog or bird picture but mostly the guy really really loved cats.
In this painting by Wain (from Wikimedia Commons), you can see cats having a grand old time at a bachelor party
It’s a 11.625″x23.625″ oil painting done for The Penny Illustrated, Christmas Edition, 1896. It sold at a 2011 auction for US$14,952 including the 12.5% auction premium.
Because the painting is in the public domain, I used the middle cat for my cat image. I changed him up just a little. Did a kind of swirly effect because I wanted a little longer fur to make the cat look a tad crazy and to add a bit of texture to the background. I changed the text on the bottle to “cream”. Took out the glass because you know a crazy cat drinks straight from the bottle! It took a lot longer to work on the image to make it what I wanted. Several days actually which surprised me. A lot of it was experimenting on the fur until it became what it is now. I don’t have a one of those digital pads where you can draw with a pen so you can draw in strokes so just a lot of experiments with filters and the occasional smudging or cloning. I need one of those pens. A mouse just doesn’t do it sometimes.
My calico cat Pinkie is crazy. When she was a kitten she showed mom an albino baby rattlesnake on the back porch. Mom panicked, grabbed a shovel and killed the poor snake. Although it’s just as well. If we had just thrown it out the back gate, there are a lot of teens who liked to ride bikes back there. So I shifted the color a bit to make this cat look more like a crazy calico.
I like Wain’s work a lot. My cat image is meant to be a fun celebration of his cat, using his cat and while making changes still paying homage to his work.
I am doing one-design-a-day, sometimes my own artwork (mostly photography) but also using vintage art. I also want to do quotes by historical figures too. But only with works that are in the public domain, of course. It seems like a cool way to celebrate history or folks that I like like Louis Wain that others might not have read or seen.
disclaimer: as a designer of the cards, Zazzle gives me a royalty if anyone buys anything with my design. As an associate, I may earn a commission if someone buys something by clicking links on this page whether or not I’m the designer.
Comedy Plus does Awww, Mondays where people post cute things. I hope you liked the way I did the cat and it makes you say awww. Join the blog hop and see what everybody else is doing.