I am getting a little ahead of myself, but in the second stanza of the Owl and the Pussy-Cat, Edward Lear mentions the land where the Bong-Tree grows and I think this tree might be just the ticket.  I have been reading Edward Lear: The Life of a Wanderer and I am learning that he traveled extensively and published many books of drawings and a comprehensive book of illustrations of parrots. So he was much more than a writer of wonderful nonsense verse and the inventor of words like runcible and Bong-Tree. Maybe I can work a parrot into this project, perhaps sitting in the Bong-Tree.
THE BONG TREE

I am pleased to present the pussy-cat who will accompany the red owl.  I used some new design elements in this mosaic, including millefiori.  I hope you will agree that this cat has enough attitude to deal with a guitar-playing owl as a traveling companion.

Image

 

Design by Halvorsen Design Partnership

Design by Halvorsen Design Partnership

Please allow a sight digression from my book illustration project as I would like to tell you about another mosaic journey.  This story starts seven years ago when I was selected by John Hancock Insurance Company to make a mosaic for a new park they were building in Boston called the Frieda Garcia Park.  The challenge was to bring children’s art into the park and I started by working with children from United South End Settlements and Ellis Memorial in Boston’s South End.  They made beautiful prints, drawings and collages of birds. In a wonderful collaboration, I placed their birds into my landscape.  The two resulting mosaics  (8′ X 8′ and 8′ X 22′), are titled A Friendly Flock Touches Down, and they are filled with zany birds of all stripes, patterns and colors and every avian species, known and unknown.  The mosaic was fabricated by Unicorn Art Studio in New York and it’s made of  Mexican smalti.

The finished artwork has been stored in crates on Dorchester Avenue for the last seven years because public art projects can get complicated. A big building was supposed to be built next door, but that project fell apart and the process of bringing that to a conclusion and redesigning the park took several years.  The park, on the corner of Stanhope and Clarendon streets,  opened to the public in November 2012 and it is a beautiful addition to the city in a block that bridges Back Bay and the South End.

Boston children clowning around in front of the mosaic

Boston children clowning around in front of the mosaic

Thank you for checking out my cat drawings and weighing in on your favorites.  Since the voting was close I decided to work on two cat mosaics, which are well underway.  I have two felines of my own at home and I am trying my best to capture their self-possessed qualities in these mosaic pieces.  Here’s a peek at the work in progress.

As you can see things get a little messy in the studio with glue and coffee stains and tiles and tools all spilling over into the creative process.  Out of this comes something unexpected and unplanned.  Speaking of planning, I have started to think about the pea green boat that the owl and the pussy-cat are going to sail away in, and I’ve been collecting green tiles. The more I think about these two, with their penchant for mice and their nocturnal ways, I think the voyage will be a good one.

Cat#1

This summer I read Wesley the Owl and I was impressed with how difficult it is for a human being to cohabit with an owl.  They eat lots and lots of mice, and only mice.  They mate for life and in the case of Wesley he mated with the author of this book, Stacy O’Brien.  This seems to bode well for my cat who is planning to start a relationship with an owl. They both eat mice.  They are roughly the same size and they are both willful creatures.

It is time to choose the best cat drawing so I can start on my second mosaic in my quest to illustrate the poem, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat. Please take a moment to take the poll and let me know which cat speaks to you.

Cat#2

Cat #3

About four months ago I made two mosaics inspired by owls in John James Audubon’s Birds of America, using ceramic tiles made by Cinca.  I embellished them with patterns and dots and color.   The palette is more subtle and subdued than what I usually use in my paintings, and I made one of the owls from the warmer colors and one from the cooler colors.  This is the red owl, inspired by the watercolor of the Great Gray Owl below.   So now there’s an owl. In my next post I’ll  share my sketches for the pussy-cat.

It all started when I made a mosaic of an owl which was inspired by a watercolor by John James Audubon.

It is a red owl and it made me think of this poem.  The poem doesn’t mention what color the owl is, but this owl
seemed up to the task of playing a starring role.

I realized that I love all of the images in this poem and I am going to illustrate the whole story with mosaics.

The pea-green boat, the piggy-wig, the turkey, the runcible spoon, the Bong-Tree  and the stars above will be fun to design and make as mosaics.

I am setting a goal of two years to finish this project.

In my next post I will introduce you to the red owl and the watercolor that inspired it.

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
BY EDWARD LEAR
I
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

II
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

III
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

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