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The Tortoise and The Cat

I'm often asked where the idea for a painting comes from, and I always respond with "none of your...."; not really, well, maybe once, but I was tired.

Mark Barry, Turtle Play, 2004In reality, with what I think are my best outcomes, I haven't a clue. There may have been an initial plan, but once the process begins it's all about painting. How the image sits on the canvas, how my eye flows from one point to another, color and form, all the technical things time has taught: the good stuff. When the energy is right and I know enough to stay out of the way, some great things can happen. At best I learn something, about the world or myself.

We have several turtles happily living in a bowl. They lounge on a stone island during the day, toasting in the sun. Along will come the cat, poking around with great interest. She likes to jump up on the table, perch over the bowl of sunning turtles, looking to pounce. She never does. I always listen for a crunching sound, but what we always get is a slurping sound instead. The turtle bowl is Emily the cat's watering hole. The turtles don't mind, and it's probably got some protein in there.

It's actually a beautiful example. To have complete dominance of the situation but to choose to live in harmony. Now that's a good subject for a painting.

Mark Barry ( is an artist working in Baltimore.

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