Put Up Your Dukes

Mary Liz Ingram —  March 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

I’m sitting on my art room floor, folded in an adolescent position (for which later my joints paid dearly), bent over an 8×10 sepia colored piece of pastel card. My pastels lay to my left, my reference in front propped against a child’s white & marker-scribbled chair. The sun is shining in, the Lumineers sing to me as Pandora plays my choice of music.

The metaphorical bell sounds; that hollow metallic announcement that the fight begins.


In one corner, there is me, bent and ready for the battle. My opponent in the other, a photo of a large silver Maine Coon, waiting to be drawn.

The match begins with ease. I sketch that cat and win round 1.

"paint by number" phase

“paint by number” phase

I tackle the image with my initial layers of pastels, and reduce my opponent to art reminiscent of the “paint-by-numbers” of my childhood.

When it’s time for the unifying layers, where it is expected that I will triumph, the cat fights back. It’s lunchtime and I’m growing weak. My frustrations mount as we’re locked in a fierce battle. I attack with my pastels to no avail.

I return to my corner. My eyes are numb to the big picture and I need a rest. Details are blurred and frustrated, and my animosity towards the cat has escalated to muttered swearing. I eat. I rest. I separate from the cat.

When the match resumes, I am revived. I apologize to the cat, and realize he’s not so bad after all. We shake hands and make peace, and I finish the drawing with less struggle and ferocity, and more grace and harmony. The battle has turned into a dance, and before I know it, the portrait is complete.

I am triumphant! Take that, cat!

Bandit, 8x10 pastel on card

Bandit, 8×10 pastel on card

Mary Liz Ingram


2 responses to Put Up Your Dukes

  1. If that darn cat is “the cat” then you must , by default, be the mouse. In most cases the cat is the victor, but if creating a gorgeous picture is the measure of success, then you my dear are definitely the title holder! I love the cat! Is it someone’s pet? You need to come see me. Love you!

    • Mary Liz Ingram March 6, 2013 at 9:28 am

      My wee self has been called a mouse before, and I’m glad I beat that monster of a cat! That’s my mom’s huge “prize-winning” Maine Coon. The picture is a gift for her and advertisement for pet portraits when she’s out and about! One day I’ll finally time it all right and get down there to see you. At this rate, you’re going to have to come see ME! You know you’re welcome ANYTIME!

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>