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.
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!