Artist’s Cats

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies: Pets (Specifically Cats), Adopting Pets

Language Arts: Literature – Historical Fiction, Writing To Persaude

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Paul Klee

Pet Portraits, Abstraction, Commercial Art ( Product Packaging)

In my last post I talked about artist’s dogs as muses. So, today let’s travel to a post with artists and their cats.

Just as dogs inspired and became muses in works of art, so did cats. If you read my last post, you’ll see some repeat artists. Two artists not only loved their dogs, specifically their dachshunds, but also loved their cats. And it just so happens that there are historical fiction picture books written about them. Picasso is one such artist. This book entitled, Picasso and Minou by P.I. Maltbie is set during his Blue and Rose Periods. As you well know, historical fiction has some historical information and some fiction in it. Maltbie tells the reader which parts are true and which are fictional at the end of this book. Andy Warhol is the other artist who has a cat loving tall tale written about him. Uncle Andy’s Cats is a delightful story written  and illustrated by his nephew, James Warhola. Yes, Andy was originally a Warhola and changed his last name to Warhol later in life. Just as the old Dragnet television series  quote goes (I’m really dating myself here!) ,“Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” The events in this story are true but it’s not quite the way they all happened. 

“Woman and Cat 1900” is a chalk drawing by Pablo Picasso in his Blue Period and can be found below. The cat may very well be Minou.

Information about Picasso’s Blue and Rose Periods along with the circus family mentioned in the story can be found here:

A later Picasso cat work can be found here:

Some examples of images from Andy Warhol’s cat book can be found here:

The last two sites I’ve mentioned include artwork that is not quite realistic. We can tell they are cats, but they’re shapes or colors may not be quite accurate. When artists do this, it is called abstraction. Another cat loving artist is Paul Klee. See his abstract cat portrait here:

A nice description Klee and this painting can be found here:

Cat and Bird

There is also a picture book about Klee and this painting. It is entitled The Cat and the Bird: A Children’s Book Inspired by Paul Klee by Géraldine Elschner. You might use this book as an inspiration for one of the following two lessons:

Why not combine parts of these two lessons? Use the bio from the first lesson? Brainstorm with students what other things a cat might be thinking about. (a goldfish, a dish of milk, a mouse, a ball of yarn) Students could also brainstorm their own pet’s or a desired pet’s thoughts. Using geometric shapes, have students create an abstract pet portrait in the style of the second lesson. Lastly, Students would add the pet’s desire in the forehead area of their pet.

To find some intermediate aged pet activities look here:




  1. Eleanor Goff · August 9, 2015

    Hi Kris, I really like some of the ideas you’ve presented here. I always love seeing new pieces of art that I haven’t seen before, thanks for all of your the time you’ve spent researching these ideas.


  2. criscophebes · August 9, 2015

    Thanks, it makes all the work worth it when I hear it’s appreciated.


  3. Pingback: Teaching Creativity | OH THE ART PLACES WE CAN GO

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