If my character Gerty, who appears in so many of my drawings, were real, I’d want her to be my long-time next-door neighbor. She would become my friend and sometime confidante, reliable, but not stodgy. She’d elicit uncontrollable laughter with her drole sense of humor. Because she loves plant life and parks, speed walking, and cats—interests my husband and I share—we would invite her to join our long walks along the lakeshore.
Ah, these days, I am drawing Gerty a lot and often her black cat, like ours, peeks out from behind her legs or perches on some of her furniture. I suppose the cat in Gerty’s setting is a symbol of comfort and calm. Cat-lovers understand. Cat-detesters will scratch their heads.
Gerty’s cat is usually by her side. Our cat, indoors always except for visits to the vet, behaves in the same way. There’s no escaping his influence on our cat-centric home. A giant scratching post looms over our spare living room chairs, arranged around a glass-top coffee table. Under the table sits the cat’s favorite crumpled and ripped sheet of brown wrapping paper, He pounces on it, hides under it, and seems to enjoy the paper’s crinkly objections to his antics. Throughout the house are pads, bowls, and nests for his daily naps, to which he has added shelving, desks, chairs, and occasionally my husband’s computer keyboard.
Although my Gerty drawings do not reflect the décor of my home or my own appearance, they do help me externalize my feelings, my reactions, and my aspirations. Here are a few of them with Cat. Three show her sitting with her feline friend, in pencil and ink. Two of those were sketched in my crossword puzzle book pages. I used markers for the brighter one. The fourth shows Gerty in a softball game, and her cat arrives at the worst moment.