Coco cat portrait, gouache on mat board

Fall Portrait Marathon: CATS

Work in progress.  Gouache on matboard
© 2011 Xan Blackburn

Quick note to clarify: I welcome ANY species for this marathon.  Not just kitties!

Feral cats, to be specific.  We’ve all seen them, slinking or strutting, hunting, making kittens, eyes glowing on the side of the road, raiding garbage cans or sharing your outdoor cats’ meals.  It’s a rough life out there.  Cats are consummate survivors, but breeding and braving the elements, finding shelter and running from predators, living with parasites and the shared illnesses wild animals fall prey to all take their toll and make life “nasty, brutish and short”*.  

Spotty Cat
© 2011 Xan Blackburn

This Fall’s Portrait Marathon will benefit a feral cat rescue program that I’m very impressed with.  

Sudden Cat
© Xan Blackburn, 2010

Lois at Creatures Comfort has made it her mission to take in all the cats that come to her, to get them vetted, neutered, and if possible adopted.  Others live with her permanently, or are returned to their original territories (a well-supported practice called TNR: Trap, Neuter and Release).  She maintains and loans traps, and is a font of information on how to trap and tame these skittish critters.  I’ve watched her handle a batch of kittens fresh from a trap and a car ride with such gentle competence it would make your eyes water.  To then hear back that all those kittens got vetted, named, known and adopted makes the trouble and worry of trapping seem very, very worth the effort.  

Four kittens I caught a few months ago,
all now neutered, treated for ringworm, and adopted, thanks to Creatures Comfort

But wait!  What is a Portrait Marathon??

Portrait Marathonn.  An event during which an artist or artists produce portraits in a concentrated fashion over a set period of time.  Participants submit photos for reference, and agree to purchase the finished portrait at a set price.  Great fun for all!  Fabulous gifts!  (source: me)

You can see posts about earlier marathons by clicking here.  You can see the paintings from the last couple marathons on my website collected in my galleries.  

When is the Portrait Marathon?

Sign-ups begin on Monday, Nov. 7th, at 9:00 am PST, so start collecting your photos!  The first ten emails I receive will have their portraits done!  First come, first served! 

Here are the details:

This marathon will be a series of 10 acrylic paintings on 5″ square canvasses, gallery wrapped around 11/2″ deep sides for easy, frame-optional display.  Because of the size, these will all be head-shots, to allow for detail and expression.

If you submit a photo (instructions to follow!), you agree to buy the portrait for $80 + shipping.  Payment, by PayPal or check, to be complete before I can start work on your portrait.

I will go in the order photos are submitted, and that payment is completed.

  1. Choose ONE photo, clear and high-res, of any ONE pet (dog, cat, hamster, ferret …), attach it to an email.  (tip: If you have a really big photo file, but it’s of the entire pet, crop it down to just the head, down to the shoulders.)
  2. The email should have your name and your pet’s name as the subject.  
  3. Send the email to with 
    • your name and your pet’s name
    • any notes about your pet you want me to know, to help me choose a mood for the painting
subject: Humphrey Blackburn; Wabi  
message: Hi, Xan!
Wabi is a little thing, mischievous and cuddly. Her favorite thing to do is eat dandelions.  Attached is her photograph.  Can you put some dandelions in the painting, maybe?

Rowdy, who became our housecat on the third try, at the
age of about 8.

When I get close to finishing one, I’ll send the next person an email with a paypal invoice.  When it’s paid, I’ll start work on that one, and so on!  If there’s a delay in payment, I’ll skip over to the next one.  If the delayed invoice is paid, I’ll do that one next.

I know lots of you have more than one pet you’d like done.  I want to be fair, so we’ll do this as one to a customer.  Heck, some of you have 10 pets!  That could take up the whole marathon right there, eh?  

Okay!  So, that’s the deal. You have a week to get ready.  (Me, too!  I’ve just ordered more canvasses!)  I’ll make a post to remind you on Monday, so either check back or subscribe to the blog (or follow me on FB).
*Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or the matter, forme, and power of a commonwealth, ecclesiasticall and civill, 1651

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Xan's Art

The Xan in Xan's Art, I put the Art in Xan's Art. And the Xan. Yeah, I'm THAT Xan. :)

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