The cat came back

two paper mache masks cats by artist Shannon Reynolds
Paper Mache masks of our dear departed
I guess I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to my cat (who departed this world after twenty years only weeks ago--see his true likeness here).  A friend's Hallowe'en party provided a perfect excuse to re-incarnate him, twice, while trying my hand at paper mache.

two paper mache cat masks by artist Shannon Reynolds
This one is the better likeness
I made these masks, which are lightweight, flexible, and easy-to wear, over a form I sculpted from SuperSculpey (a first for me) and aluminum foil using multiple reference photos.  The likenesses are far from exact, but I think the masks conjure him well nonetheless.

two paper mache cat masks by artist Shannon Reynolds

For the mask-making, I followed the ingenious techniques explained so comprehensively by Jonni Good on her amazingly informative blog: Ultimate Paper Mache.  Jonni, if you find this post, I've ordered your book, but haven't yet received it and so made use of your excellent YouTube videos.

And, since the carnavalesque masks seemed to represent only one aspect of his personality, I also sculpted a more dignified bust, using a paper mache clay also developed by Jonni Good over a wire and foil armature.  I haven't decided whether to paint him, as the ancient Greeks surely would've, or leave him to yellow slightly (there's some linseed oil in the mix).  I think I like the gravitas of the unpainted version for now.

paper mache cat sculpture by artist Shannon Reynolds
Cosimo, profile
paper mache cat sculpture artist Shannon Reynolds
About face
paper mache cat sculpture Shannon Reynolds
paper mache cat sculpture artist Shannon Reynolds

Hot Ticket IFOA

Junot Diaz, Michael Chabon, and Siri Agrell at the IFOA

Last Friday night I was in an enthusiastic audience along with literary stars Michael Ondaatje and Linda Spalding to hear Junot Diaz and Michael Chabon in conversation with Siri Agrell about their new books (ostensibly, although the conversation veered all around them rather than delving into them):  This is How you Lose Her (Diaz), and Telegraph Avenue (Chabon), at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. It was a sold out event.  Junot Diaz is compelling on stage--never still, always gesticulating.  He must be a riveting professor at MIT.   I sketched while I listened, but never really caught Chabon's likeness. Diaz and Agrell are better.

Junot Diaz not keeping still
In my defense, the lighting was pretty low.  Good practice for losing my inhibitions about drawing in public, though.

Siri Agrell at the podium


Cosimo 1992-2012

My best animal friend for over 20 years.  This portrait is of him as he was in his final month--a still regal centenarian whose personality was, as always, a hundred times bigger than his size. 

Cosimo, oil on panel, 20" x 16"

Cosimo, detail

Cosimo, detail


At the Bath

At the Bath (two grackles), oil on panel, 12" x 12"