Have you ever noticed that when you do something new or different, even though you may have done the same thing in the past, that you have to invent solutions to problems you never even considered? Recently, my wife and I decided that we would like to share our home with a cat. She’s an orange tabby, now named Pumpkin, who was rescued by a woman who occasionally fills in where my wife works. This woman kindly brought Pumpkin to our house, where she immediately disappeared into my studio.
We have had cats before, but then I wasn’t painting and I didn’t have a studio. I still worked in the same area I work now, but there weren’t any toxic paints or other chemicals. There were plenty of sharp hazards, scissors, needles, Xacto knives and sharpened pencils and the like, but they don’t pose the same threat. The cat we had when my area started having these hazards was mellow, and I never even considered it a problem, never gave it a thought.
Once Pumpkin returned to us and started to settle in, we discovered that she’s a jumper. We tried to figure out ways to discourage her, coins in a can, clapping, sharp noises, to convince her not to jump where there are breakable items. And I tried to figure out how to keep her safely away from my studio. I remembered that we have what I have always considered a relatively unattractive throw. Hell, I’ve always thought it to be hideously ugly. I thought if I hung this in the doorway, it might discourage Pumpkin. Of course when she figured out it could provide no real barrier, the jig would be up.
I tried putting a couple of chairs in the way, bolstered by cardboard boxes and a portfolio. It became an instant success, at least as far as Pumpkin was concerned. She used the boxes as a launching pad and sailed over the portfolio as if I had laid a stack of tissue on the ground. Because I had been in creative mode for several weeks prior, my studio looked as if a small explosion had occurred somewhere within. I decided I had to clean it. This is something I do at semi-regular intervals, but now it had become imperative. I mean, I wasn’t completely sure where all of the hazards were located.
Mission accomplished, I felt no closer to having a solution. I now knew where all the toxins were, but I didn’t know how to keep the toxic substances and Pumpkin apart. Finally, I hit on a solution that has worked so far. I went to my garage and dug a three foot by three foot painting out of storage and put it across the door. The back is toward the entrance of the room. My wife thought I should put it painted side out. It’s an oversize portrait and she thought it might scare the cat. I figured it might only upset her and she’d attack, clawing it to shreds. It’s only canvas after all.
So far, this approach has been successful. I’m looking for a more permanent solution, but these things take time. I have ideas. Workable solutions, who knows. Since my painting is working so far, I’m in no great rush. Who says art isn’t practical?