Lots of cats “accidentally” add pawprint patterns to their household décor and even interact with their human’s creative toys, and even after the publishing decades ago of the fun and exciting book Why Cats Paint very few cats do, actually, use paint as a medium and use it to make intentional marks on a surface.
Quint Cole really paints. He began of his own initiative smearing substances around on surfaces and padding patterns with his paw so that his humans actually gave him paint. He dips a paw, he makes marks on canvas and paper, he stops when he’s done. He makes another, similarly themed. It looks quite intentional to me. And they are nice little paintings.
Quint is a young cat, born in 2012, and began his habit of painting before he was a year old. In a happy household circumstance his humans found that he was attracted to, of all things, toothpaste specks on the bathroom mirror. He didn’t swat at them and try to catch them as if they were prey, but instead gently pushed them around. His humans had to clean off his canvas each day in order to see themselves, but he returned to his work.
Moving on to another household circumstance about a month later—damp cat litter. “Damp cat litter on the Colehaus Cat Den closet doors,” said Carole, his human caretaker. “More spreading action and as an added touch, gentle paw print dabs placed here and there. Not that we didn’t appreciate his work but…there’s that ‘Ewwwww!’ factor every morning .”
They moved the litterbox, but Quint continued the actions he’d used to apply his medium to the closet doors. That was when his humans decided to experiment and see if he was indeed intentionally applying a medium to a surface. They found a non-toxic, child and pet-friendly water-based paint and got Quint all set up.
“Quint’s first studio was a huge tall-sided cardboard box with 8×10 inch sheets of art paper taped to the insides,” Carole described. “He loved the box right away and with a little coaxing, started pawing at the paper like he did on the bathroom mirrors. Once he got that motion down, we introduced pet and child-friendly paint.”
They bought some little canvases and painted them in soft colors and let them dry completely. Then they watered down some paint, put the canvases and the paint palette in the big box and with a bowl of warm water and a fluffy dry towel handy, and introduced Quint to the spread.
“This is where the little man tilted his head and put his paw on Mom’s arm as if to say, ‘Let me take it from here,’ ” said Carole.
Quint had never seemed to mind wet feet and had no problem with them dipping his paw in the shallow bowl of watered down paint. He took over from there, pawing and dabbing paint on the paper.
Today he paints on a flat countertop covered with cardboard from that same big box as pictured here.
Quint doesn’t paint every day, but he lets his humans know when he’s ready to paint again, about every six to eight weeks, by pawing the mirror in the bathroom, which is his studio now.
“We think he’s influenced by seasonal weather changes which might help explain his timeline,” Carole remarks. “He loves looking out windows, not just at birds and squirrels, but also at clouds, rain, wind, and of course, sunshine.” Quint creates new art four or five times a year, one for each season plus an extra fun painting, sometimes for the holidays, but usually in late spring.
“Quint’s very comfortable creating half a dozen 8×10 inch art paper and three or four 4×4 inch canvases in one afternoon. Each one is a multi-step process so the colors don’t muddy together.,” Carole explains. “We used to let him go off, creating a dozen or more 8×10 inch art paper paintings and half a dozen or more 4×4 and 6×6 inch canvases over several days. But after three days, he gets bored with the colors and tired from the intensity he seems to pour into his work so we’ve cut back on the amount of work and he seems much happier now when he paints.”
Quint’s paintings are posted for sale when they are ready, and are also donated to benefit animals.
Living in southwest Washington state, Quint does seem to take inspiration from gazing out the windows and enjoys weekly walks in the garden during the warmer months of the year. “We’re very fortunate to have lots of flowering shrubs in our backyard, for both spring and summer color, and with him walking in his kiwi-green harness, he has to stop and sniff every one. His favorites are the pink and red rhododendrons in spring and the daylilies and petunias in summer,” Carole says.
Considering color and cats, its presumed that cats can’t see much color at all in part because of the structure of their eye in comparison to a human eye, and because, biologically, being able to see color was never historically an advantage to a cat, hunting mostly at night, and prey that was generally colored for camouflage against its background. But that doesn’t mean no color at all is detected, and distinguishing shape and contrast is important, so a cat’s walk in the garden attracted to flowers probably has as much to do with position and shape, and the possibility of buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies, as it does with color; for more about how cats perceive color visit here. But when Quint paints he clearly has a preference for colors whether he sees them as shades of gray or sees actual color.
To prepare for a painting session for Quint Carole sets up a seasonal palette for him to work from. “We used to let him choose his colors but he went through a ‘Yellow is the Greatest Color Ever’ phase in which he completely snubbed all other colors and everything looked like a blooming dandelion. For weeks and weeks,” she said.
“After the soft pastel flowers of spring, I’m ready for bold pops of color,” Carole says.
“He gravitates toward our orange and yellow daylilies in the garden and the bright red Crocosmia flower with its long, strappy green leaves. He’s always ready to paint after his garden walk to sniff those,” Carole says.
I purchased two works from Quint a couple of years ago. One, a “Festive Summer 2013 Series” painting, I found too pretty to pass up, and I wanted to study Quint’s technique. And then Quint painted a series of Starry Night-inspired canvases and I had to have one.
“The Starry Night-inspired piece was a fluke of sorts,” Carole explains. “We discovered Quint pushing aside the blinds at night to watch the starry skies of summer, when our area of the United States is least apt to have cloudy weather. Every time we heard him squeezing behind the blinds, it became a ‘Quint and his Starry Night’ joke which gave birth to the idea. We pulled out our big art book (because everyone has one, right?), looked up Vincent van Gogh and Starry Night, and an idea was born.
“Our craft store had the black canvases and the tiny, cute easels, we printed out a small photo of ‘Starry Night’ for him to look at for inspiration, we mixed up the colors, and let him paint. We helped him get the yellow moon in the upper corner just right,” Carole said. “Or maybe it’s supposed to be a blooming dandelion?”
Carole chose a pet and child-friendly, water-based acrylic paint that is readily available at most craft stores. “We did write to the company, Pro Art, to ask about pigment intensity and health risk and are satisfied with their helpful response,” she said.
“That said, we absolutely will not let Quint sniff or taste the paint, nor let him lick his paws clean. Because he doesn’t mind wet feet, his paws get a thorough soap and warm water wash after painting.” Looking at those big white paws and knowing that even friendly pigments can stain, Carole said, “And we’re thankful he doesn’t have a love of red or black paint because those seem to be of the strongest pigments.”
Does he still go after the toothpaste? I asked. Quint says with a slow, sly wink, “What do you think?”
About Quint and his feline family
Quint lives in a family of nine rescued and shelter-adopted felines. “We’ve been told to say we have two, as in too cats too many! The truth is we have currently have nine. And we’ll point out that eight is our usual limit but did you see Viola as a kitten? She captured our heart, as did her mama, Zuzu. Convince us you wouldn’t have adopted them both in a heartbeat,” Carole says of the mama cat and kittens she fostered in 2014.
The family has taken in and socialized feral kittens, accepted a lost kitten from the neighborhood, and adopted from their local shelter, the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, which they also support and occasionally foster for. So where did this remarkable cat come from?
“Ah, a favorite Colehaus Cats gotcha story,” Carole says. They needed litter but couldn’t get to the pet store until late in the afternoon when an adoption event had just wrapped up and the kittens who hadn’t been adopted were playing together in a large cage in the locked adoption center room. “We took one long look at the lanky orange and white boy and knew we needed to learn all we could about him,” she said. When they asked to see him, the store manager said the adoption coordinator would be back after dinner, in about an hour, to pick up the kittens to take back to the shelter.
“Two hours later, we were still waiting. We can say with all confidence, we know where every item in that store is located. And the prices for half of those,” Carole said. Finally, the adoption coordinator returned along with a couple of foster moms, all expecting to take kittens home or back to the shelter and found two very eager cat parents waiting. “Quint was both playful and a gentleman at his young age, sharing his toys and handing out kisses in the adoption center room. All of Quint’s brothers had been adopted that afternoon and for some reason, no one paid Quint much attention. It was as if fate had brought us together,” Carole said.
Carole adds, “Bonus Info: Olivia was also one of the other leftover kittens and we adopted her on the spot alongside Quint.” Olivia is a sleek house panther, and as we know black cats are often left behind.
Reading their blog, Colehaus Cats, I also knew they had experienced a number of losses in the year just prior to Quint and Olivia’s adoption, so the addition of a few kittens likely also energized the household.
The Coles have volunteered for the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society (WCGHS) in Washougal, Washington for two and a half years and have fostered since December 2013 with both adults and kittens, and they donate to their vet’s emergency fund for those unable to pay for veterinary care and services.
“Twenty years ago, we fostered what we thought would be our last bottle babies for a season, having learned from several bottle baby litters a few years before that,” Carole said. “We’re lucky our last litter came with a great mama cat!” They’ve fostered six cats for WCGHS and by best estimate, two dozen or more over the past twenty-five years. “We’re very proud to say we’ve only had three foster fails (or foster fortunates, as we like to call them) in all that time.”
About the humans
Carole is a short story fiction writer (published in science fiction and fantasy genre), and “Colehaus Task Master and Household Manager, Defender of the Colehaus Universe, Master Gardener, aspiring photographer, Cat Wrangler, and indeed, mere servant to All Things Feline 365/24/7.” Her husband Mr. Colehaus is a “bug-hating software engineer, Champion Toy Dangler, and Mastermind behind the Nightly Brushies Routine.”
“Cats have always seemed to gravitate toward us wherever we’ve lived. But… so have raccoons and opossums, for that matter. But you can’t really have those as pets. At least, it’s not encouraged.
“We’ve both always felt a connection with most animals since childhood. My father used to show and breed Persians. I never thought of them as show cats but as pets. Pets with lots of floofy fur. Mr. Colehaus (Carole’s husband) will say he didn’t pay THAT much attention to the family dogs and cats when he was growing up but then again, this is a man who singlehandedly raised a baby duck though successful adulthood!”
Visit Quint’s Art Shop to see his current paintings for sale and read below for a special offer to help a kitty in need.
Quint donates a painting or two every year to causes he truly feels passion for. It’s hard not to want to donate to every cause with the hope his paintings might help; there are so many charities and so many sick, injured, and homeless kitties out there who need help. Half of the proceeds of everything he sells is donated. This year, he is helping the emergency expense fund of the local vet to help those who cannot afford vet care or services. So many sad stories there. The other half stays in-house for painting supplies, general items – bedding, carriers, food, litter, and of course, toys, and he has a little saved for a rainy day.
Donate, Help a Kitten, Get a Painting!
Quint found new inspiration in the early spring of southwest Washington and just last week created a new series of paintings—you see him creating these paintings in the photos in this post—including “Quint’s Bluebells” above. “Quint definitely caught the spring-painting bug after our nice weather last weekend and today, he got busy in his studio. He created a simple, soft, early spring piece perhaps inspired by a neighbor’s Bluebells and apricot primroses,” Carole wrote when she sent the image.
Quint wanted to help an individual kitty with one of his paintings but didn’t have one in mind right now. He and his person liked the suggestion of one of the kittens from the rescue group I work with, so I am arranging for the donation of at least $50 toward the care of one kitten to receive “Quint’s Bluebells” pictured above.
You may have read about Odette earlier this week in my cats for adoption feature. Here is a little more about her rescue and condition and about her rescuer.
Rescuer and volunteer Colleen saw a Facebook post about kittens seen on the North Side in Pittsburgh, one of the kittens with a very bad eye condition. Though Colleen lives nearly an hour north of Pittsburgh she went to check out the situation with another HCMT volunteer. They found the person who had posted who showed where the cats normally were, but they were nowhere to be found. They talked to other neighbors and all agreed that there were cats around but no one knew where the mother and kittens were. Colleen and the volunteer drove by every few days until the original poster called to say that she knew where two of the kittens were but had not seen mother or sick kitten in awhile.
Colleen went to trap the remaining two living under an abandoned house, setting the traps in the back, clearing a spot in the garbage and weeds. Shortly she heard the traps snap one right after the other—the kittens were so hungry it only took about 15 minutes to trap them both.
Colleen has a farm with a solid barn and she brought the kittens home and set them up in a large dog crate in the barn. The calico, later named Odette, had a very bad eye infection, but she could not be touched. Though she gave them food and water they were so terrified that the next morning they were in the exact position as the night before, huddled in the back, and hadn’t eaten anything.
Odette’s eyes were worse and she eventually got an appointment with her vet, who usually doesn’t see ferals. Her temperature was 104.6 and she was severely dehydrated. The tux, Sabo, wasn’t as bad off. They were both tested for heartworm, feline leukemia, etc., antibiotic shots, vitamin shots, eyes treated, Sabo had a huge tick on his head that was removed, Odette got fluids, and off they went back home.
Colleen set them up in the warm tack room but they were both exhausted and still would not eat. Making a broth from baby food, Odette was so weak Colleen had to syringe it into her. “The first time she swallowed it she jerked her head up at me and just stared and stared at me,” Colleen said. “If I let go of her scruff she would just slide away from me like she was just jello—she was so weak.” For several days Colleen syringe fed her the baby food and made them both sort of a stew out of canned cat food and baby food broth.
Eventually they were able to eat canned cat food on their own and Colleen was able to handle Odette quite easily and she became very friendly, but Sabo would still not let her handle him very much, and he never played. Odette was recovering but every now and then “she would sort of fall over” and she never wanted to jump. Both went back to the vets for a check up two weeks later and Odette still had a temp of 102. After more antibiotics they were growing and getting healthy.
She took Odette back to the vet for her check up post-infection and they did x-rays. Odette was found to have had a break in her pelvic bone at some point in time and the pelvic bone was growing into her hip bone. “I could have left it go but the more she grew the worse it would become and she would be in pain all her life. So we decided to do the surgery and she was spayed at the same time,” Colleen said.
Odette stayed at the vet hospital for about 10 days and still when she came home Odette was very lethargic and wasn’t able to properly walk. Her back right paw did not flatten out when she walked, she dragged that leg, and Colleen has been taking her back to the vet for laser therapy and is giving her home therapy. While Odette was in the hospital Sabo had no choice but to be friends with Colleen and socialized quickly. She had to move them into the house because she had to take in another feral to be rehomed and needed the tack room. Sabo and Odette moved into her sewing room but she kept them separate while Odette recovered.
Still not really able to do much Odette continues to recover and as her hip muscles strengthen she should be able to walk properly. Colleen works with her by standing her up and placing the paw the way it should be so that she gets used to using that leg. The happy news is that Odette and Sabo have a good potential home who will understand the needs of both of these special kitties.
Odette would have probably died from her infection and fever, and if not would not have been able to catch anything to eat if she lived on her own, not to mention the pain she would have endured. Colleen is sad that she couldn’t find the other littermate and has gone back to the area where Odette and Sabo were found several times but never saw another kitten.
All this and Colleen is deathly allergic to cats! She doubled up on her allergy meds to care for them, and for how physical socializing a cat can be and hand feeding and all the care Odette has needed, that is a huge sacrifice.
Colleen calls her farm Pine Rise Farm and she has cats, dogs, chickens, guinea hens, and horses. One dog was rescued from Hurricane Katrina; she had had another but found the owner. She only has one house cat named Shirley, three horses, 2 are rescues, a pony and an old ex-race horse that was in a bad situation. Most of the chickens are basically pets as they are too old to lay eggs anymore. The guinea hens are excellent bug catchers and love to eat ticks, which helps solve the tick problem of the last few years.
Colleen paid for all of Odette’s surgeries and hospitalizations out of her own pocket, and between the two costs were over $1,000, and that with a big discount from Colleen’s vet. At the same time Colleen is able to help with difficult to find barn homes for feral cats who can not live with humans and helps to safely relocate them, and she’s helped trap and transport dozens of cats and kittens for clinics miles from her home, and volunteered at clinics as well. Money is finite for everyone, and no one would say Odette did not deserve this care, but Colleen can help even more cats with some of her expenses reimbursed.
Here is how the donation works
The painting above has already been sold for Odette’s benefit and just for the sake of disclosure I’m keeping the details of that offer below, in gray. But Quint and his person and I worked out another way to use Quint’s artwork to help Odette. Quint had quite a productive year in 2014, and has a variety of seasonal offerings in his shop. He is willing to donate the entire selling price of the art and keep only the shipping costs of anything purchased in the coming week, between today, January 31, 2015 and February 7, 2015.
Below is a screen shot of what is in Quint’s shop and available for this offer. You’ll see under most of the items there is a “(number) left”. Reading about Quint’s painting, above, you’ll see he does several paintings on paper or canvas in the same style for a series of four or six or more that are very similar. The one that is pictured is the next one in line in the series. When that painting in the series sells, the image is replaced with another in the series. We’d love to sell out of everything from last year!
If you’d like to help Colleen with Odette’s expenses but would rather not buy any art, you can still make a donation and Colleen, and those of us in the rescue, would greatly appreciate it. Send it to [email protected].
Below are the details of the original offer. Thank you to the person who purchased the painting within hours of posting!
Quint would like the sale of his print to with the cost of Odette’s care. The print is priced a little higher than it normally would be to help even more to offset the costs of her care.
- Send a donation of $50 to [email protected], which is Colleen’s Paypal email.
- Send me an email you’ve done so and give me your mailing address.
- Colleen will confirm your donation.
- Carole will send the painting to you.
If you are not in the continental US we’ll figure the best way to get a print to you without spending all our cat food money.
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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop 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.
© 2014 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!