The Hospital Cat

“The Hospital Cat” drawn with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 30.5 x 27 cm. June 2020.

On our first afternoon in Venice on 2 November 2018 my daughter and I wander into a grand looking edifice.  We don’t know that we are entering the Ospedale Civile or Public Hospital.  Through automatic doors and into a courtyard we walk.  What do we discover?  A cat community!

A courtyard within the grounds of Ospedale Civile, Venice.

The automatic doors appear to be operational for cats as well as humans.  Even though the (slightly spooky) corridor is empty in the photo below, on my second visit I see a cat padding nonchalantly along a section of it, exiting at the door leading to one of the courtyards.

I take a photo of the entrance to the cat house.  The cat in the porch looks like the cat in my drawing.  If it isn’t the same individual surely it must be from the same family.

Though the tabby in my drawing looks rather aloof with a “Why are you bothering me?” expression (typical of felines) the cat community is welcoming and affectionate as the following photos affirm.

Alicia and cats.

Julie and cats.

If it hadn’t been for Covid-19 I would have returned to Venice in March this year and come away with a whole new batch of source photos to draw from.   I would have been spoiled for choice with 2020 material and would almost certainly have overlooked making a drawing from the Venetian hospital visit 17 months ago.  The 2020 world health situation is forcing me to re-evaluate the photo-treasure I already have.

I thank all the brave compassionate people who work in hospitals, especially in the time of a pandemic.  And thank you Venetian Hospital Cats.  I saw visitors (probably their loved ones were patients) sitting on outdoor benches beside you, comforted by your purring presence.


13 thoughts on “The Hospital Cat

  1. lauraslittlecorner

    Dear Julie, your cat-portrait is beautiful and it just seems like the real one! All those photos are full of love.Thank you for your artwork and all the photos. I don’t know if you talked about the article you were writing, the one for the magazine you wrote about last time in the blog, but I’ll be so out of curiosity… Please, take care!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hello Laura, I thought of you a lot over there in northern Italy while I was drawing this.
      As to the article I wrote, no, I haven’t talked about it yet. It won’t be published until the end of 2020. I do hope you are well and thriving, and that the situation in Italy continues to improve. Warmest wishes, Julie

      1. lauraslittlecorner

        Hello dear Julie, all these days, I had in my eyes, mind, heart this beautiful cat full of life, the fur, the eyes. It’s beautiful, not so many people can paint a cat and make him/her alive. I think also of your kindness, your kind words. I thank you so much, I too hope things work out.

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        Hello Laura, what a lovely message to receive from you this morning. I’m happy to tell you that I am in the middle of drawing another of the cats from the Venice hospital cat-community. The one I am drawing right now is a black-and-white cat. There is a huge amount of detail in this drawing so it is taking a long time. I am loving the process. Warm wishes and a big hug to you, Julie

  2. Susan R Donze

    What a beautiful drawing, and fun to see something different from you (I love all your work, btw). I just want to scoop the kitty up for a cuddle!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Susan, yes, this is a bit different. I have drawn cats before however the last one was eight or nine years ago (and was a French cat). Your comment about wanting to scoop the cat up is a good one. This is exactly the thought I had as I drew – that I wanted the cat to be “pick-up-able”.

  3. Jennifer Wall

    Love this post and your cat picture Julie. Also affirm your gratitude for medical staff in hospitals. Would you like to catch up for a coffee now the restrictions have eased? I’m free next week Wednesday morning or Tuesday afternoon.

    Jennifer x

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Robyn Varpins

    the story that you have provided, gives your picture great provenance…and brings the cat to life. The cat seems to be posing for you, what a beauty.

  5. anna warren portfolio

    As I mentioned when I saw this as a work in progress, I just love those bricks, the tone, the texture, all go to make them delicious. But now it is complete of course it is even better. That cat has character – he/she is giving you a bit of side eye, as you said I think it is tolerating you more than posing! I am very fond of cats, I grew up with a lot of them and particularly like their calm self-confidence, and this cat has plenty of this. Your understanding of colour and composition makes this work as well – the cat’s ears framed by the brick, the texture of the plaster on the wall echoed in its fur, the colours of the wall echoed in the cat’s fur. Just delightful.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Anna. This was a difficult piece. The beauty of 2020, due to the world ending, is that with no deadlines or anything in particular to work towards, I can experiment. I usually experiment but this year even more, trying things I have absolutely no idea in advance how I will resolve. It was with equal trepidation, frustration and joy that I worked on this. I’m going to do another hospital cat (black and white cat this time). The next composition is very Mondrian-like in shape, except that it is realism rather than De Stijl pure abstraction. What fun!


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