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Seriously addicted

June 16th, 2006

Yes, I am seriously addicted to sketching. These are the sketchbooks I’ve used since March 03, when I returned to art after a 20 year hiatus and essentially started over from sketch, I mean, scratch.
The stack on the left is completed books. The stack on the right is books that are partially full – a little bit or a lot. Every one of these is precious to me for one reason or another. Like any place where practice is done, they are full of false starts, errors, bad perspective, wobbly lines, strange anatomy, half-baked ideas and more. But that’s what my creative journey is all about. The way I figure, the more mistakes I make the better chance I have of doing something right. So I try to make a lot of mistakes every day. The more the better, really.

I’ll be posting new Mandu drawings later today if you want to check back. She’s drinking her half and half with enthusiasm again, and that’s a good sign. Yesterday I did a whole series of “cat part” drawings – ears, eyes, tail, etc. But I need time to scan them and it’s midnight now.

Thank you everyone for your supportive comments during this emotionally stressful time. Some people might say “get over it, it’s just a cat,” but animal lovers know it’s not that simple at all and that relationships come in all shapes, sizes and species. Feeling your kindness helps ease the impending loss, whether it comes in days, weeks or longer. My husband reads your comments, too, and I know that it means a lot to him as well.


  1. You said it Karen! I feel tearful thinking about Mandu even though I don’t know her but I’ve loved enough cats to know that each and every one is special and unique, even those out there rummaging through the trash with no homes to go to. It’s wonderful to think of Mandu getting her moment of fame on your blog and getting well wishes from around the globe! Give her a kiss from me! (Love the photo of the sketchbooks BTW – they are priceless in value!)

    Comment by Felicity — June 16, 2006 @ 12:56 am
  2. What a fabulous collection, Karen — each filled with such memories! Part of those are Mandu …and you’ll be so glad she’s part of this journey …

    Comment by lin — June 16, 2006 @ 4:00 am
  3. WOW Karen, have you joined ‘sketchbooks anonymous’ yet? You could be president! I am well on the way to being a member also! Love it.

    Thanks for the update on Mandu. So good to hear.

    Comment by TeriC — June 16, 2006 @ 7:51 am
  4. What beautiful sketchbooks! I’m an avid fan of both art and beautiful art supplies. I have to stop myself from buying new sketchpads until I fill some I already have. Since reading your journal I keep going to the campus bookstore and drooling over the moleskins.

    Looks like you’ve done a lot of sketching, and from what you post a lot of beautiful art. I’m really sorry that your time with your cat is coming to an end. I’m a pet lover and I had a special beloved dog from when I was in 3rd grade until halfway through graduate school. That was, hrm, 16 years? A long and happy life, but too short still. There will never be another pet to me as good and sweet as her, but nearly 2 years later I’ve finally gotten another dog. Actually 2 puppies from the humane society. They have completely different personalities and will never replace my other dog, but they are very exciting in my life currently.

    Please don’t think I’m suggesting you move on, I just wanted to share with you about my sweet new pets. I know you’re quite occupied with Catmandu currently, and I hope you don’t think it’s distasteful if I ask something. Do you ever do sketches/art for other people? I’ve been all around your blog where you maybe used to post things for sale. Do you ever sketch from photographs for people or commisioned work? I just see your beautiful sketches in your blog of and wish I had sketches of my beautiful puppies like you have of your cat and dog (and zoo animals!).

    I’m glad Catmandu is doing better food-wise. Thanks for letting me share about my pets, I knew you’d understand. Keep up the beautiful artwork and keep enjoying every day.

    Comment by Lady Arden — June 16, 2006 @ 9:07 am
  5. I just love a Catmandu that drinks with gusto! Cats Rule! She’s whippin that cream with her little motor tongue!

    Totally impressive stack of work, Karen. Mistakes, huh? I doubt it, but thanks for faking humility.

    Comment by pink — June 16, 2006 @ 12:20 pm
  6. I’m not a cat person, but I imagine it feels just like it does for us pooch fanatics; like losing a very old, very dear friend and constant companion. Not something to just quickly get over! I love that you are capturing so many memories of her in your sketchbook. You will be so glad you did in the years to come. Wouldn’t it be great if hubby could sketch so you would have some of you and her together, as well?

    Love seeing the piles of sketchbooks. I’ve not even managed to make it halfway through my first yet, but this is great inspiration!

    Comment by Melisa — June 16, 2006 @ 12:29 pm
  7. Felicity – thank you – I hadn’t thought of Cat Mandu getting her 15 min. of fame, but she’d probably be pretty happy to know that. Cats are so vain, you know. I do think the good thoughts and well wishes are helping, absolutely. They’re certainly helping me!

    Thank you Lin … Teri .. yes, I think I am ready for an anonymous program. “Hi, I’m Karen and I’m a sketchoholic.”

    Lady Arden – oh, do find some of those Moleskines – you will love the experience of drawing. We do have another cat, Foggy, who will probably move up to being “alpha” cat when Mandu passes on, so between Foggy and Ripley we will still have a place for our pet affection. Yes, I do commissions and I’ll email you about that.

    Pink – uh oh, is this a challenge to scan and show my suckiness. It’s there, trust me, LOL!

    Melisa, thank you – yes, I am going to introduce my husband to drawing very soon. Keep going in yours and you’ll be hooked before you know it!

    Comment by Karen — June 16, 2006 @ 1:22 pm
  8. Um, sickness? I’m kind of jealous of that type of disease! Better that you use your supplies than horde them. THAT would be a shame.

    Comment by melissa w — June 16, 2006 @ 1:55 pm
  9. Your sketches are fantastic. You give me hope! I was an art student back in the 60′s and 70′s. Want to get back into drawing and sketching so I’ve been sneaking peeks at all the wonderful blogs and talented people.

    Re your kitty. My Pooh-cat lived for 19 years. We finally had to put her down as her kidneys were failing. It was a sad time but fortunately I have many great memories and photos of her.

    Comment by Stephanie Prejza — June 16, 2006 @ 4:21 pm
  10. The pic of your sketchbooks is great. Better than lots of paper stacking up. So many stories and memories in each book. I have dozens of scrapbooks which include pasted pics, cut-outs of articles, quotes, some sketches, some writing. Not much order about them, but I can go back and find bits and pieces to write a short story or poem there at times. When I was 17 I started an art course to be a teacher, then thirty years later did a BA majoring in visual arts and it was an eye-opener what had happened in painting during those years when I was in the South Pacific. The cost of framing prohibits me from seriously getting back into selling work so I just add more sketchbooks and papers to the shelves and cupboards! Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Wendy Ratawa — June 16, 2006 @ 4:36 pm
  11. Melissa – I agree completely! Let’s use ‘em up!

    Stephanie – thanks for writing. Yes, do get back into drawing again, you won’t regret it and it’s never too late. As a professional writer, I have always been a “word” person more than a picture person, but I loved playing around with watercolors in the late 70s, early 80s until our family came along. I had the dumb idea that if I couldn’t do it right I shouldn’t do it at all. WRONG – I should have kept it up. A few years ago, I started again, very tentatively, and I’ve been working at it ever since. I don’t think I’ll ever quit, now – it’s become a part of me.

    Thanks for your thoughts about Mandu. Yes, her kidneys have been failing for some time. Daily injections help maintain her health and quality of life. Until a few weeks ago she was jumping up on furniture and acting perfectly normal. I think she still would be were it not for her vision, which has changed. So I am treasuring each moment through drawing.

    Wendy – oh gee, I have lots of paper stacking up, too. You see, this really is a sickness! But one of these days – like really soon, now, I’m going to start offering works for sale, and that should keep me from drowning in paper.

    Comment by Karen — June 16, 2006 @ 4:47 pm
  12. On EDM group you asked was it a sickness? I’d have to say it is definitely the opposite! It is soooo very healthy to have a big stack of books-on-the-go
    and the stack of finished ones… well, they are going to keep you healthy for years to come!

    Comment by Jan — June 18, 2006 @ 3:16 am
  13. Love this photo! I, too, am back after a long hiatus and I can’t wait to accumulate a stack just like this. Keep the faith, sister. you are an inspiration!

    Comment by Starr — June 18, 2006 @ 3:38 pm
  14. Karen, you ARE an inspiration. I love cruising your blog, and drooling over your sketches and lovely watercolors. Thanks for the serious nudge to get cracking filling sketchbooks. This photo gives us all that encouragement, and I’m glad that you’re getting some back. Mistakes? Yes, let’s all go make a bunch of them. Smiles.

    Comment by NelVanL — June 22, 2006 @ 3:39 am
  15. Hi Karen…back from my trip and delighted that Mandu is still with you–I thought of you often while I was gone. Your sketches of her are so wonderful…I try to draw Fuzz as often as I can, too.

    He was quite the rogue while I was gone. He HAS to have canned food now, can’t survive on the hard dry stuff, so I really had to have someone take care of him, especially. My oldest friend volunteered since my usual kitty sitter was dealing with the last stages of her dad’s cancer, and was too exhausted to even consider asking.

    This made me a wee bit nervous, because R. doesn’t even LIKE cats…turns out she was actually rather afraid of Fuzz, amazing to me (sweet old fellow!), but I guess he IS a bit intense about his food these days. I think he may be partially blind as well, as his pupils are quite dilated most of the time, and he has BIG round eyes anyway. She found his stare disconcerting. His fur is all spiky now, and his voice is rough, so she was afraid he was going to leap on her. She was quite skittish, she told me, and tried to stay several steps ahead of him.

    After a bit over a week of this, Fuzz apparently got sick of her ‘tude, and mostly ignored her as if to say “is THIS all you’re good for?? Food??” Then he followed her to the front door to escort her out!

    He is a skanky old fellow, now, but still as sweet as ever…unless I try to give him a pill. He used to be really good about that, but he’s sick of being messed with, I think…

    Anyway, I was relieved to find him alive and well and very glad to see me when I got home…

    Comment by Kate (Cathy) Johnson — June 28, 2006 @ 11:05 am

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