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Two Civil War soldiers carrying American Flag
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Scarlett O’Hara, 9th Annual Art for the Animals

My most recently finished piece, Scarlett O’Hara, is a 5″x7″ acrylic painting on illustration board. She is one of six planned Civil War era portraits inspired by ~ obviously! ~ Gone With the Wind.
I am working on Rhett Butler now, and will continue with Ashley and Melanie, and finally do two Civil War soldier portraits ~ a Blue and a Grey.

Scarlett O'Hara Cat, art by Tara Fly.

My mother and grandmothers were all fans of the film and novel, and I was named after the southern plantation, Tara, where Scarlett lived. I even have My Own Theme! ;)

If I had a penny for every time someone asked me, “Did your mother like Gone With the Wind?” after learning my name, I could probably buy a plantation house of my own. Everyone seems to love this movie! Growing up, I was so tired of hearing lines from the film being quoted, that I refused to watch it until I was 24-years-old, when my curiosity finally won the battle over my stubbornness.

I concede, the film was well done, albeit very depressing…. however, the American Civil War has never captivated my interest in the way European and ancient world history has. One of my high school history teachers was obsessed with the Civil War, to the extant that he rushed through every chapter leading up to it, granting himself a few more semester weeks to pour over the battles in detail. My worst memories of history class were from that period. All of the battles, the casualties, the important names, melted together violently in my mind.

Two Civil War soldiers carrying American Flag
I’ve tried to understand my aversion to American history, and the Civil War era in particular, and I haven’t rationalized it to my satisfaction.
It’s a combination of things, really.

Over-exposure is most likely the biggest factor. People in this area are crazy about the war, as several battles were fought along the Maryland/Pennsylvania/Virginia lines and in key cities, including the tiny Battle of Funkstown, a skirmish which occurred in a field a few blocks from my house. You’d be hard pressed to walk 10 miles without stumbling over a marker honoring some aspect of the war; a solders’ graveyard, an old stone building that served as a hospital, a trail or bridge that was involved in the battle somehow.

Perhaps it is because people still “choose sides”, labeling themselves as Yankee and Confederate sympathizers, waving their flags and reminding me that we are still divided at heart.

Perhaps because there were no “good guys”. Neither side had pure motives for going to war.

I’ve walked the historic trails, I’ve watched the reenactments, and I’ve appreciated the period clothing and way of life in the 1860’s, but I’ve never been emotionally attached to the people who took part in the war… especially the Southern people. My grandparents who raised me came from New York.

Despite my affinity for classic literature, it was only this year when I picked up the 1st edition copy of “Gone With the Wind” I’d found in my favorite second-hand bookstore (with a lovely inscription on the cover!), and decided to read the novel for the first time.

Gone With the Wind, 1st edition, 1936

Inscription in 1st edition Gone With the Wind book

The descriptions of the slaves’ worshipful attitudes towards their masters was difficult to read, and I don’t believe I will paint any of those characters.
Although if I were to paint them, wouldn’t slaves in a cats’ world …be human? :P

Scarlett isn’t a likable character. We certainly wouldn’t be friends! LOL She is a text-book example of an anti-heroine, a protagonist without virtue, who embodies characteristics both good and evil. Rhett isn’t my dream suitor, either, but he seems entirely suited for her, as only two tragic romantic souls can be.


Charity Animal Art Auction

Scarlett, and the additional five paintings in this series, will be donated to the 9th Annual Art for the Animals charity fundraiser. (Last year, I donated the original four Wizard of Oz characters) This will be my 4th year participating in the art auction, with all proceeds from the sales going to Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

The auction will take place in October, so watch this blog for further updates! :)

Tara Fly

About Tara Fly

A Crazy Cat Lady ... who divides her time between painting portraits of cats dressed in period costumes, watching BBC mini-series, growing weeds and wildflowers, and baking pumpkin pies seasoned with cat hair. Would you like some fur-flavoured coffee?

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