What motivates an artist to create a certain piece of art is usually personal. Many times an artwork carries some emotional significance to that artist. And then when the viewer sees the artwork, they are looking at it through their own personal perceptions and life experiences. I think when you are drawn strongly to a piece of art, it's because it relates to something in your own life that has value and significance.
I know this is true for my black cat artwork. I have been told many times how the work reminds someone of their own black cat, or a black cat they know.
My own artwork is full of personal symbolism. When I started printing black cats, I wanted the black cat to be seen more as a symbol for all cats, not just black ones. The inspiration behind the work is my cats, two gingers and a tuxedo cat. But as I said, I think most admirers of my cat artwork are black cat guardians.
My latest linocut print, "Spirit Guide," is layered with symbolism for me. The first layer of significance is my love of tigers. They have been my favorite wild animal for as long as I can remember. I love the beauty of these cats. Black and orange and white. What's not to love? And I love their strength and fierceness. They remind me to be brave and strong and bold. Even in my vulnerability.
But this piece is also about my cat Tiger, who recently passed away. Tiger was the first cat I ever adopted. Before I met him, I knew I wanted a ginger cat, and I knew I was going to name him Tiger, because of my love of the big cats. My cat Tiger fit his name. He was beautiful, but he was also fierce. He always had a bit of a wild streak in him, which I'm not sure a lot of guardians would have put up with. But when I adopt, it is for life, so we worked it out. Tiger was the alpha in the house, always in charge of the other furry family members, and my husband and myself. We loved him dearly.
I learned so much from having Tiger in my life, about love and caring, forgiveness, caring for a sick pet, patience, other animals. The list goes on and on. He was an inspiration in my artwork for years, and an inspiration in my life. My best companion and friend.
So another layer of symbolism for this piece is that it represents Tiger. I looked up the expression, "Spirit Guide," on Wikipedia, and they explain it like this: "In western spiritualism, a spirit guide is a spirit that remains after death, that acts as a guide or protector to a living human being." I also saw the expression explained as a guardian angel, guide, or enlightened being. An animal in spirit. I like that. It may or may not be true, but I like feeling like he is still with me in spirit. He is certainly held closely by me in my heart. I think of him every day.
So when you view my print "Spirit Guide," you may just like it because you like tigers, like I do. Or you might have other personal meaning that you see in this piece. Either way, I hope you enjoy this print.