The INCIDENTAL lions: A comical sequence of events

The INCIDENTAL lions: A comical sequence of events

You know those moments in a silly comedy movie that make you think, "Yeeee-ah, riii-iiight..."? A sequence of events that is so ridiculous and unlikely that the only reaction it could possible warrant is an eye-roll so severe that you run the risk of getting your face stuck like that forever (just like your mama always said it would when you gave her cheek).

Well, after what happened to me recently, I am willing to give the creators of such slapstick smut the benefit of the doubt. Some of what they portray may, in fact, be based on cold, hard, embarrassing truth.

That brings me to.......... THE INCIDENT.

I had been working away on a really challenging watercolour piece. The striking reference photo, depicting a lioness and her two cubs, was expertly captured and shared with permission by Yaron Schmid of YS Wildlife Photography and Safaris. The beautiful photo immediately caught my eye. The tenderness between the cuddling trio is just so palpable and emotive!

I was already a couple of weeks in, painting between four to eight gruelling hours a day. Although I still had to add a lot of details, the end was certainly in sight.

So there I was, calmly painting away at my easel with Kitty napping on my lap, when I notice that my leg had fallen asleep. This is not uncommon at all. I often sit with one foot tucked underneath me. While this posture is comfortable to start off with, it obviously becomes less so over an extended period of time... Being so deep in concentration, I don't always realise soon enough that I've lost feeling in my foot or leg.

I put down my brush, set my cup of dirty paint water on the kitchen table, just to the right of the easel (I have a firm no-moving-until-the-water-is-far-away-from-the-artwork rule!), and prepare to lift Kitty off of my lap and place her back on my swivel chair. Normally, this is a swift, well-practised move: I scoop her up and she just kind of flops into my arms (sometimes without even opening her eyes!), and like you would set down a tray, I lay her back down again.

I lift the relaxed, furry body, get up, and then disaster strikes: I have absolutely no feeling in my entire leg. I can't even feel if my foot is touching the ground. I literally look down to check. Sure enough, it's on the ground, but it might as well not have been there at all. Like an unfortunate marionette, with someone else pulling at an invisible string, my knee jerks back and forth in an odd jelly-leg-dance, trying to find it's equilibrium.

It doesn't.

Cue a frightening out-of-body experience: I watch myself slowly tip forward. My outstretched hands, still balancing the sleeping cat like a tray of delightful hors d'oeuvres, painfully hit the edge of the kitchen table. The shocked cat springs to life, jumps out of my arms and careens madly across the kitchen table in a wide semi-circle, knocking over the cup of paint water and a myriad of bits and pieces.

Then, the out-of-body-me watches in horror as I slowly keel over towards my easel. The lions gasp in terror as we collide. For a moment, the easel teeters magically on one leg, before it topples backwards, hitting the washing machine with an echoing bang. Simultaneously, I ricochet back towards my swivel chair, knocking it over onto a nearby shelf. The easel and I hit the floor at the same time.

A moments pause to relay a bit of side info: My husband, Alex, is a carpenter. He also works from home, outside, under a little pergola. Since it's not completely protected from the elements, many of his projects-in-progress spend some time spread around our tiny rental cottage before completion. On the day of THE INCIDENT, there was a set of thick, heavy planks (soon to be a delightful book case!) that had been painted the day before, balanced precariously upright, across from the washing machine.

So -- the easel just hit the floor between the washing machine and this stack of planks. Then, in slow motion, like giant dominoes, three of the planks topple over, and fall right on top of my painting with a loud thud.

A death knell.

My whole body hurts (except for the guilty leg, that is still conveniently absent). But all that I can think of, is that I just ruined my painting. Weeks of blood, sweat and tears, just wasted. I want to weep. Instead, I leopard crawl towards my lions to see if there are any survivors.

En route, I notice my paint palette lying face down, paint splattered all over like some shocking crime scene. Finally, I reach the victims. I lift the stack of fallen planks from the painting, expecting to find nothing short of sacrilege hidden beneath it...

But no. At first glance it seems... fine. Unconvinced, I turn the painting this way and that, peering closely at every inch, searching for damage. Surely, after that rollercoaster collision...

A few innocent specs of paint - all will become unnoticeable when easily bended into the lions' fur. One ugly dent caused by the corner of one of the planks, placed as if by angels' hands far off to the right of my handiwork - it will be trimmed off. The bottom left corner of the artwork suffered the worst damage: dog-eared and dipped in grey paint - but, once framed, you won't even see it.

I sit - lost in a fog of disbelief - staring at the painting for a long time, certain that I must have missed something. Then a strange tingling draws me back to reality: My leg now has pins and needles as it comes back to life. I struggle to my feet, still grasping my painting. The back of my hands are throbbing and with every movement, an angry mob of muscles, armed with pitchforks and fire run riot through my body.

I glance around me. Aaah, here the carnage lies. The carpet, washing machine, the remaining planks still bravely standing upright, my defeated easel, are all covered in angry splashes of paint. An array of paint brushes are scattered around the floor. My swivel chair is hanging off-kilter, its weary head resting on an obliging pot plant. The stunned silence is only broken by a solemn dripping of mucky paint water. The kitchen table, littered with a mess of paint tubes and dirty dishes (and little paw prints), is soaked. Ugly, dirty streaks of water run down the faces of the once white cupboards, forming a giant puddle on the tiles. Thank goodness I moved that water... I see movement from the corner of my eye: Kitty is staring at me from the windowsill in the study, ready to make a hasty escape should the madness continue. She looks indignant, but unscathed.

I look from Kitty to the trio of lions in my hands. Alex isn't home. Just me and my cats.

"That was a close one", I say to the cats.

"You should be more careful!" says the lioness, protectively drawing her cubs closer to her.

"At least the water missed us!" I protest, tears welling in my eyes.

"Speak for yourself!" remarks Kitty, shooting me an accusatory glance while licking a dainty, wet paw.



Before you ask -- No, I don't have photographic evidence of THE INCIDENT. I was a bit too traumatised to think, "Hey, this is such a great Insta-moment!". I was lying on the floor in pain amidst total chaos, not making an avocado sandwich!

So, just as I conceded to the possibility that Hollywood's most ludicrous chain of events may in fact have happened in Real Life, so I ask you now to gracefully accept my comical mishap as the truth...!

And if that won't placate you, at least I can share the photographic evidence of the work-in-progress of my lion family, including an awesome time-lapse video on my YouTube channel:

watercolour lions work in progress

watercolour lions work in progress

cape town wildlife artist corinne erasmus working on watercolour lions

photorealistic watercolour lions work in progress

photorealistic watercolour lions work in progress

All my cats... The lions coming together nicely, and Kitty taking over my chair. It was at this stage of the progress that THE INCIDENT happened.

lioness and cubs photorealistic watercolour painting by the happy struggling artist

The original watercolour piece of this lion family, and only 20 limited edition, fine art prints are available in my online shop.

the happy struggling artist exclusive mailing list 001

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