Look a little closer! This ink drawing of two cute kittens is made up of a couple dozen of their ancestors and relatives!
The artist, Chaz Letzkus, is a good friend and a mentor to me in attending shows and vendor events, and I scan his artwork and manage his website. He developed this unique style of ink drawing decades ago (yes, those of you of a certain age, Santana’s eponymous debut album cover was an inspiration), and I always enjoy studying each drawing as I scan them.
Chaz makes his living almost exclusively by attending vendor events from small neighborhood shows to week-long events all over Pennsylvania and into Ohio. As the pandemic shutdowns rolled in and we learned more about this virus, it was pretty clear that there weren’t going to be any vendor events this year. The success of an event depends on cramming as many people as possible into your event in a limited amount of time in order to offset the cost of the event with income for all involved. With social distancing, that’s really not safe, so none of us are counting on income from that portion of our businesses, plus Chaz is in a high-risk group.
I have it a little easier because I still have some commissioned work and commercial art from customers who are still at work, but since Chaz gets nearly all his income from shows we’ve been discussing ways to get his website sales rolling, something he’s never particularly worried about before.
So when he gave me this drawing to be scanned and added to his website, and I knew that Adopt-a-Cat Month was coming up, it seemed like a great time to have a giveway to share this unique artwork and his website!
The inspiration for “Ancestry.cat” was a cat named Goldie who belonged to some people I was living with in Laguna Beach, California in the seventies. Goldie was a domestic medium-haired cat with a beautiful white and gold coat. The house overlooked the ocean and had a lot of vegetation and this was Goldie’s jungle. She loved to stalk one of those little California lizards and suddenly pounce on it. She didn’t eat her prey. I think she did it for the thrill of the hunt and watching her, I imagined watching a lion or tiger stalking its prey in the jungle.
Years later, I received a gift of an Ancestry.com membership with a DNA test kit. I was able to trace my roots on my mother’s side all the way back to the 1600’s in Massachusetts. I thought about Goldie and wondered if way, way back in time her ancestors were big cats that ruled the jungles or savannas. So I did a drawing of a couple cute kittens made up of those wild, big cats.
The drawing contains two kittens comprised of lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, cougars, jaguars, bobcat, snow leopard, serval, golden cat, margay, marbled tiger cat, Canada lynx, pampas cat, ocelot, clouded leopard and caracal. There is also a little ‘Chaz face’ in the drawing. I hide my face in every drawing I do now. I’m not saying I’m an ancestor of cats. I’m just a fan!
At one point in his career, Chaz worked in marketing at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, prowling the displays looking at all those animals, and that experience truly informed his later work with the knowledge of not only the big cats in this sketch, but in over 100 sketches he’s done of all sorts of animals, living and historical and even kind of made up, as well as dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and all manner of other domestic animals and pets. Just about every veterinary office I’ve gone into, and that’s a lot, has at least one Chaz in it. You can read more about Chaz and his career in an earlier “Creating With Cats” article I wrote about him called “An Unintentinal Life’s Work”
He also has two other popular cat sketches, “Cat Scan” and “Kitten Kaboodle”.
I’ll just say right now that this is the first time I’ve used Rafflecopter for a giveaway, so if there’s a big learning curve for me I’ll be sure to make it up to you! It won’t actually start until Monday, so if it’s not Monday yet where you’re reading this, please be sure to come back and enter!
Read about other artists who Create With Cats.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Tuesday: Rescue Stories
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And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!