"There's a Bird in My Heart" Acrylic on Panel, 8x8", Quin Sweetman
"I am white with knuckles and my future eyes are squinting and sand-crusted. I kiss you to make you stop talking" Oil on Canvas/Panel, 8x8", Quin Sweetman
These are paintings I completed during a rough time; my mother and my cat were both ill. The strange titles came from a group show I am in, in which painters were paired with writers. "Entitled" is the name of the show and we each randomly selected titles to paint about or paintings to write about, respectively.
The painting of my cat now serves as a eulogy as she just passed away. Her sweet, gentle spirit and skittish, bird-like ways inspired me to paint her for the title. The painting of my husband Andy, though a portrait of him, is also a a self-portrait of sorts. I found the title I had drawn from a hat to be silly at first but came to relate to it in this tender stage in life I am in currently. On a lighter note, Andy wrote this tongue-in-cheek eulogy for our cat:
Kirby Puckett was born in the summer of 2001 near Lake Merwin Washington in the Mount Hood Forest. She was destined to be a working animal for a band of Forest Gnomes who ride cats like humans ride horses. These weren’t your normal run of the mill forest gnomes who cause a bit of mischief like hiding your keys. These gnomes are a truly nasty and evil race. They find folks sleeping after a night of partying and poop in their mouth and give a whack to the head for good measure resulting in what most people think is a hangover.
One such morning when Quin and I awoke in a forest cabin, the gnomes had succeeded in causing a hangover but had left behind their small steed, who was now sleeping at the foot of our bed. We figured that Kirby had escaped their nasty little clutches and wanted to be a normal cat like she had heard of in the legends of old. This is where we started to share in the adventure of Kirby Puckett, the female cat.
Quin and I already had a cat named Keegan (RIP) and some of you may have read his life story some time ago. We felt that Keegan and Kirby would be best friends. We didn’t know at the time, but Kirby spoke a language and observed customs that were not aligned with any other living cat. This might have had something to do with those shitty little gnomes. It took the passing of Keegan and the adoption of Fuzz, AKA Joe Meower, AKA Johan Santana, AKA Black Kitty, etc. to understand this was a reality.
Soon after, we moved to the St. Johns neighborhood of North Portland and Kirby and Fuzz ruled the neighborhood for a couple of years. Fuzz was the muscle and Kirby was the brains behind the operation. They sold catnip on the corner to make a few bucks and bribed animal control to leave them alone. All of that ended when a group of bootlegger cats by the last name Togo moved in next door. The Togo clan ruled with impunity, terrorized humanity and a claw to the eye and hole in the foot ended the outdoor rein of Kirby and Fuzz. The message was loud and clear, the only safe place was indoors.
During these past few years of indoor life, Kirby would pass the time following Quin everywhere through the house. Kirby would give advice and tips on painting. Wonder why Quin wasn’t on the same sleep schedule as her. She would think “why doesn’t Quin use the litter box too" and wonder why our food was always eaten in front of the magic box where noise and light came from. Whenever Quin would ask Kirby what she should paint next, the answer was always: Birds, Birds, Birds. By this time Quin had become semi fluent in Kirby’s language and was always trying to teach it to me. Kirby had a love hate relationship with petting, me, Fuzz, litter boxes, and the device she called the VACUME. She was amazed that it could scream and eat at the same time yet terrified at how it moved and in our house, only came out before other people came over.
After a brief sickness, Kirby is now hanging out with Keegan somewhere in heaven.
I read somewhere that cats look at humans as bigger cats who feed them. Kirby leaves behind two big cats and her brother fuzz.