Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Behind the Scenes and Inspiration: Red Kitty with a Pink Tail

One of the questions I hear most is "where do you find inspiration," followed closely by "what's the story behind that image?"  The answer to the first is "pop culture, life, music and my 'black comedy' sense of humor." While that is definitely true, it is also pretty vague, so I thought I'd start occasional posts that tell the stories behind and beyond some of my pieces.  Of course, sometimes, a painting is just a painting, so not all of my images will show up in this series.

mixed-media (soft pastels, charcoal, ink, molding paste) on canvas panel
people sometimes refer to this painting as "Joyce's Alzheimer's kitty"

In the summer of 2012, my mother-in-law, Joyce, was officially diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's Dementia. It had been coming on for almost a decade of forgetting, arguing and battling until she was diagnosed in late 2011.  Things finally got so bad that she was hospitalized in the summer of 2012. While in the hospital, she insisted she saw a "red kitty with a pink tail."  She said the kitty had been coming in and out of her hospital room and asked my husband where she had gone.  He was educated enough about the disease to know telling her there was no kitty wouldn't help, so instead he asked her about it.  Joyce said that she was a "nice kitty" and when asked what the kitty was doing, Joyce replied, "Oh, you know. Kitty things."

My husband is convinced, because of my hair color at the time (crayola red, which had previously been magenta) that her brain turned "Krissi," into "kitty" and she was really talking about me. After all, I had been in and out of the room for several hours. 

The facility where she now lives promotes the idea of "going on the journey" with the Alzheimer's patients, so we continue to ask her about whatever she experiences on any given day.  The conversations have been interesting, and other "kitties" have come to visit her, but the jewel-toned Red Kitty never returned.

Prints and jewelry of Red Kitty with a Pink Tail are available at skelekitty.com.

See all Behind the Scenes/Inspiration posts.  

Is there an image you're curious about?  Drop me a line and ask me to talk about it in a future Behind the Scenes and Inspiration post.