My cat is my greatest muse
So often we think of something hard or aggressive whenever we hear the word ‘strong’, while in reality, strength comes in various forms. Like in the form of a cat.
How we met.
It was the summer of 2017 when she came into my life. My husband had picked her up from a farm in a northern province of The Netherlands after somebody’s cat gave birth to 4 kittens. Molly was the second last to find her forever home, and her home is with me. At that very moment, I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
I had been looking for a cat to adopt for months with no result before I met her. At that time, my mental wellbeing had taken a drop after an extreme career switch. Honestly, it was not like there was a lack of cats from the shelter to adopt, but it was me who couldn’t make myself commit to one. I felt insecure and inadequate to be in a position of caring for an animal.
When she arrived, all I could feel was excitement, yet mixed with anxiety. She was tiny and fragile. Her voice was quiet as she was confused and afraid of her new environment. How could I protect this tiny baby from everything bad in the world? Would she be happy living with us? What if I failed to be a good mother for her? I have lived and cared for cats before her, but she is the first one who is adopted truly as my companion. My initial hope was only that she would feel at ease and happy around me and my husband in our home.
How she affects me.
During a hard time of anxiety, I found myself often swept away in a vicious cycle of dread and worry. I would feel like I hadn’t done enough, but at the same time, I didn’t have the energy to even do the simplest things like making foods for myself or buying groceries anyway. I painted and wrote, but I didn’t know where and what was I going for. Life felt pointless and aimless. As mundane as it may sounds, bringing her into my life gave me a solid purpose to wake up in the morning: to feed her, to clean her sand. Slowly the vicious circle was broken. Living with her came almost naturally for us. Our day starts with her peeking round face into my blanket, then we have breakfast together: me having a cup of tea and her having her dried foods softened with a bit of water. On days when I decided to eat cereal with milk, she gets to clean the little leftover milk from my bowl. During our yoga session, she likes to watch and judge. Her presence, while she was a tiny being, felt huge. She is soft and gentle, but yet a strong and athletic creature. She makes me rethink the concept of strength. So often we thought of something hard or aggressive whenever we hear the word ‘strong’, while in reality, strength comes in various forms. Being kind and gentle with ourselves during a difficult time, or slowly rolling out the yoga mat and making time to nurture our mental wellbeing when it’s hard to even leave our bed, are forms of strength too.
How she affects my artworks.
At the beginning of 2018, I decided to commit to the idea of making art as a living. It started with challenging myself to paint every day for 30 days, which during this period of time the subject of cats came almost too repetitively. I couldn’t escape from the playfulness and the many expression of cats while she was there watching me paint on the kitchen table. The medium of my artwork switched from acrylic paints to gouache, but there seems to be a constant object for me. The cats in my paintings are often being the third person point of view of me. They are happy. They are sad. They are longing for their midnight snacks. They are playful. They are peaceful. They are tired. They are majestic. Every single emotion of them are the reflection of my own.
These beautiful words and paintings are all from Annisa Frankes-Purwanto - an Indonesian painter based in The Netherlands.
As Annisa puts it: “The inspirations for my artworks come from things that I love around me; especially cats and greenery. I’m also inspired by colourful flowers, foods, and the cosiness of the Dutch lifestyle. My favourite painting media is acrylic paints, although I’m also slowly falling in love with the softness and elegance of watercolour. Aside from making art, I’m passionate about foods (cooking, baking, and growing); and the slow living and mindfulness movement. The greatest goal in my life is to live on a farm with my husband and my cat (Molly) and becoming self-(or at least locally) sustainable.”