For this week's Inspiration Monday I chose, once again, to feature an artist. More specifically, I thought it would be nice to focus on this particular artist's interpretation of his favorite subject: the domestic feline. This artist's name was Louis Wain. He, like so many other unfortunate-yet-brilliant artistic types, (Antonin Artaud, Vincent Van Gogh, James Ensor) suffered from mental illness. It is his apparent documentation of his descent into the depths of Schizophrenia through the increasingly bizarre way he portrayed cats in his paintings that makes Wain so utterly fascinating.
|Louis Wain with one of his beloved feline muses|
Louis Wain was born in England in 1860, the oldest of six children, and the only male. He began his career in illustration and fine art as a way to make a living which was substantial enough to support his mother and sisters after his father's death. He was quite successful, having stints with The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Illustrated London News.
|A realistic Wain cat from early in his career|
He soon became a very popular and in-demand illustrator. His work during this time included a wide range of subject matters, soon to be narrowed down to just one. It was during his wife's diagnosis of cancer and subsequent decline that he began turning his attention to drawing cats as a way of amusing and entertaining her. He would paint his subjects in an anthropomorphic way, often depicting the cats in humorous situations while wearing dapper clothing.
|A market scene with anthropomorphic cats|
Following the death of his wife, Wain's mental health took a turn for the worse. It is theorized that this is reflected in his work, with his cat portraits taking on a psychedelic, sometimes frightening appearance. He began using jagged lines which radiated outward from the subject, done in vibrant otherworldly colors. Wain's cats eventually stopped resembling anything remotely close to nature. In fact, sometimes it is rather difficult in his later works to discern a feline presence whatsoever.
|a gradual change from realistic kitties to wild-eyed fractals|
It is important to note that there are those professionals who thoroughly believe that Wain's more diffracted and flourished cats are not a window into his schizophrenia, but rather just a reflection of his love for decorative textiles and patterns. Either way one looks at it, it is a captivating and inspiring body of work for cat fanciers and art enthusiasts alike. I look forward to digging though our arsenal of cat related beads and findings, and pairing a few choice kitty beads with some radically colored wire or ribbon to create a Wain-worthy piece of jewelry.
p.s. Do you love cats? Art? Louis Wain? Show us what kitty creations you have made!