Treat yourself to 15% off apparel, cases and laptop skins with code FORME15

Artist and 3 Cats, One Biting Hand That Feeds by Barbara Sparhawk

Currently unavailable for purchase

Available to buy on…

Artist and 3 Cats, One Biting Hand That Feeds by 

I wanted a kind of cozied up all of a litter, showing the way cats have of comanding primo spots, and especially in honor of the more than one cat in my life who thought nothing of chewing the hand that fed it.

I’m holding one up and back who was intent on landing on my head, one lapped, one crook of arm. Home fires burning.
The gang, and an interesting project to paint.

The comment from Anne Gitto reminded me that I’d started this with the intention of doing more than an image, I was heading for a meaningful biography. I wanted an inclusion of the ups and downs and long trail of my life, and to show the effect of living the way I have.

It’s a painting that nearly spans a lifetime for that. The white cat on the far right is Babette, rescued from subway tracks in Brooklyn, and of a serious, intellectual nature. I loved her so much, she lived until Virginia and nearly 20 years with me. He son Gorgeous is the Biting Cat, middle. Gorgeous was my last Brooklyn cat, from the mid ‘80s all the way across country. He’d lost all his teeth at the end, July 4, 2004. He also used to swipe my face, claws out, to note dawn and the expected breakfast. Which I put a bit of a hint to on the extended paw of the girl on the left, who is Muffin, one of my first NYC cats in the ’60’s, and very beautiful.

Lot of years and emotions in here.

Professional Expressionist, portrait painter, writer, children’s book illustrator, entrepreneur, and adventuress.

View Full Profile


  • Nikolay Semyonov
    Nikolay Semyonovalmost 2 years ago

    Barbara, it’s a fabulous canvas!

  • Thank you Nikolay!. I see, in posting, there may be some things I want to add or change. It’s an amazing benefit to a painter to photograph work, whole different perspective. I’ve been on this a good three months and it has gone through a lot of change. I wanted to get all the parties concerned and present working together. Group portriats are a challenge. I’m very pleased you like this.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • billyboy
    billyboyalmost 2 years ago

    OK, I’ve known from the beginning you’re an amazing painter.
    But how does even an amazing painter do a self portrait that captures such expression so perfectly reflecting the situation?
    The cats are a no-brainer. I would expect any good painter to be able to translate chronic self-centeredness and genetically bred attention craving. Which you’ve accomplished here with your usual Sparhawkian Barbaciousness that I’ve come to appreciate more with every new offering…
    But the way you worked your eye brows and under lids with the purse of your lips and those things that curve up from their edges up to the nostrils (you know, not exactly a wrinkle… what ARE they called? Used to call them ‘chocolate moldies’ when I was a kid… probably one of the reasons my mom left me with the baby sitter stead of taking me with…) to show us that you understand they are what they are and that life wouldn’t be as cool if they weren’t like that, is mind blowing.

    Every time you show me something new these days I like it even more than the last thing I thought was amazing. Which means that in my book you are not only an amazing painter, but that your work is progressively making a wonderful room for itself in my soul that’s decorated with all the stuff that makes me buzz.

    I can’t tell you enough how much I love this painting Baba.
    It’s my absolute fave of all you’ve done to date.
    And somehow I think you’re still gonna manage to blow me away with your next…

  • You always capture the import of the paint with your brilliantly observing eye, and it much gratifies this painter that I am your happy target for inspection.
    I’m very pleased you’re pleased darling Billy. You’re right, my work is changing and progressing, and I’m glad that shows because it mostly feels an internal upheave and I’m not sure I identify the external so readily.
    Your description of cats as “chronic self-centeredness and genetically bred attention craving” is too divine and your usual laser-like observation. It’s incredibly funny and true!! I just asked my cat at my elbow and he said Of course.
    Thank you so much for all your praise. You always give me so much to live up to.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Anne Gitto
    Anne Gittoalmost 2 years ago

    Kind of an eerie portrait with the cats. But you seem so vivid and beautiful but in deep thought and possible pain. You are such a marvelous artist. Best Wishes. ☺

  • Thank you. What an eye you have. So interesting you should say those things, Anne. I was thinking about painting a portrait which would include the presence of the kind of life I have led, the ups and downs and adventuring, more than just an image. There’s been as much sad as elation I think, like most lives. You reminded me that getting to that was important to me when I began the painting. Cats, animals, to me are almost always in deep thought and serious intent. They can play marvelously well, but their bottom line is respect for life, great curiosity, and enormous intellect. I don’t want to sell them either broad or short, but it’s what I’ve always felt. Babette, the white cat on the far right, was one of the most intensely serious, thoughtful cats I ever knew, rescued from subway tracks, and I loved her with all my heart She was near 20 at the end, in Virginia. And this portrayal was a triumph because I got her expression just right. The biting cat was just funny to me, because they do, this one, Gorgeous, Babette’s son, and others. The marmalade girl is Muffin, one of my earliest NYC cats and incredibly pretty. Span of many years in this. Thanks so very much again, Anne.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Carol and Mike Werner
    Carol and Mike...over 1 year ago

    Cats never seem to mind biting the hand that feeds them . . . still they have their charms and we love them. Great portrait . . . love reading your writings and background! What a grand life . . . and more to come. I love it!

  • Many thanks to you both, Carol and Mike. I’m so pleased you liked the painting, and know from cats, the mystery creatures. I am having a good time in life, and wish same for all.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Gene Praag
    Gene Praagover 1 year ago

    Beautiful my friend!

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10%off for joining

the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.