Category Archives: dog merchandise

Follow Me! Portraits of Animals Has Moved

Portraits of Animals new website!

Portraits of Animals new website!

Several new followers have signed up recently, and I don’t want you to be disappointed—I don’t post on this site anymore because I’ve built a brand new website that includes a blog where I post all the inspirations from my felines, my backyard and garden and the beautiful world around me. Maintaining this blog plus my Etsy profile, Fine Art America account and a few other profiles where I displayed and sold my things and decided to invest the time to combine them all into one completely new site.

Please visit Portraits of Animals and follow!

Please visit Portraits of Animals! I moved all the posts from this site to that blog, so to be sure you see the latest I’ve created and have to offer you can go to Portraits of Animals and subscribe to “Notes and Stories” there.

May Feline Sampler Box from Portraits of Animals

May Feline Sampler Box from Portraits of Animals

That’s what you see above, a screen shot for the home page. Finally, this plan I’ve visualized for the past five years has been put into action. I found a template I liked, I’ve planned out my new products and I set up my Sampler Box Program and a free gift for those who register for an account on the site. I have features on the new site that I couldn’t have here, including setting up an account with a free gift when you do, member rewards programs and a sampler box program!

The New “Portraits of Animals”

January had originally been my deadline to have this website ready, but the holiday season doesn’t permit focus on too many things other than the holiday season, so I didn’t get too far. And then I ran off to Savannah to deliver a couple of kittens and visit family. But before I did I decided to stop building that site and decide which way to go: continue with the site or look for a template that better represented my work.

The new menu.

The new menu.

I found the perfect template, designed by an artist for artists. Next, I needed to find three or four days to set it up and get all the parts in there and start adding merchandise. Designing websites has always been a process of not only putting your visualization on a computer screen but also fixing all the little issues, bugs and conflicts that come up, and at this point in my life I like to stake out some time to just focus on it.

At left is what the new menu looks like, always accessible on the left, with drop-downs for extra pages to keep merchandise grouped and organized.

The site includes not only my feline inspirations but my nature and wildlife art as well. How wonderful it is to have it all in one place!

Below are some samples of what the merchandise looks like when you visit!

Handmade Feline-themed Gift Items from Portraits of Animals.

Handmade Feline-themed Gift Items from Portraits of Animals.

I love the way I can set up the galleries so that you can see a whole screen full of images and read the headlines, click on the item and read the details and order. Here is a sample section of animal sympathy cards.

The display of sympathy cards.

The display of sympathy cards.

And here is a detail page, what you see when you click on a product.

Detail page.

Detail page.

A signing bonus!

I like to thank each person who signs up for an account on Portraits of Animals. Each new member receives a thank-you gift not only as an honest thanks from me for signing up, but also so that you can see a sample of my art and the quality of my merchandise, even if you’ve been a customer already and purchased from me in other places.

You don’t need to purchase anything to get your thank you gift, you can just register an account and get your free print.

The thank you gifts always include matted digital prints of art and photos that I usually sell for between $20.00 and $40.00. The selection includes the current month’s featured artwork and several of the more popular images I sell. Sizes vary according to the size of the art itself—some of my more popular sketches are as small as 3″ x 5″—but they are always matted to fit a standard frame size so you can use a frame you have on hand or easily purchase one without the cost of custom framing. Below is the current selection of prints you can choose from. Visit Current New Member Gifts to read more about the size and matting for each print.

The current selection of new member gifts.

The current selection of new member gifts.

About that Sampler Box

November Feline Sampler Box Program from Portraits of Animals

November Feline Sampler Box Program from Portraits of Animals

I’m offering a sampler box with a single box or a three month box subscription which will include the following items:

  • a 5″ x 7″ or 8” x 10” print matted and ready to frame OR a small framed print, either an existing piece of artwork or a new one
  • an alternate print of any size, unmatted, different from the main print in media, style, subject, etc.
  • several greeting cards: a sympathy card, feline art card, feline photo card, non-feline greeting card and two or more note cards, current designs and new designs
  • a handmade or other gift item—a small keepsake box or a little art sampler book, a polymer clay or ceramic item, screen-printed dishtowel, tote bag, crocheted item or rubber stamp, new art paper, for instance—which is exclusive to box recipients and not shared with the public for a week or so after boxes are sent
  • the “boxes” are not boxes at all because they vary so much in content so they are carefully wrapped with wrapping paper made from my designs that you can reuse

These can be things your use for yourself or give as gifts or donation items to shelter or rescue or other fundraisers. Sometimes they’ll be little experiments and I’ll be asking for feedback. I’ll be happy that you get to see art you may have never noticed, and little handmade goods that work so much better in your hands than a photo on your computer.

You can order a single sampler box or a subscription of three boxes. Shipping within the US is included.

$25.00 for one box, value about $47.50

$75.00 for a three box subscription, value about $142.50

You can read more about the content in the gift boxes on the page on Portraits of Animals, and don’t forget to go and visit the rest of the site too! I add new items and post on the blog every day, and now that I have a comprehensive website I can spend much more time actually creating new things instead of maintaining four or five selling sites.

 

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Don’t miss any new items or opportunities!

“Follow” the Portraits of Animals blog.
Sign up to receive posts in email, or in your favorite reader using the links in the right-hand column.

Sign up for e-newsletters

You can also sign up for my monthly e-newsletters to receive special discounts and find out where I’ll be with my artwork.

Click here for the Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter,
for feline and animal-specific products and information.

Click here for the Art & Merchandise E-newsletter,
for landscapes, nature, urban scenes and more.

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© 2017 | www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “Custom Orders” for availability and terms.


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“Borzois”, Original and Prints

pastel painting of two borzois

“Borzois”, pastel, 25″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Too many ideas leads to two portraits, one for me and one for the customer!

detail of portrait of borzois

Detail of faces.

Several years ago I had the pleasure of painting a portrait of two beautiful rescued Borzois, Traveller and Emma. Their person was also a friend of mine and lived in an enviable remodeled home on a few hilltop acres with wonderful light and horses romping in the pasture next door.

I’d visited before and when she mentioned she’d like a portrait I began envisioning the two dogs and the places in her home and even outdoors in a fenced area where they could play. I knew she had photos but especially with larger animals, and one of them being primarily black, I was glad to be able to meet them and take photos of my own so that I could collect details. Back in the days of film, I had two 36-exposure rolls with me and all my lenses for my trusty little Pentax K-1000. The house was full of windows so lighting likely wouldn’t be an issue.

We followed the dogs around the house, Traveller, the big creamy white dog obviously being the boss and the smaller black and tan Emma following orders and feeling safe near her big brother.

photos of borzoi dogs

The inspiration for the above portrait.

She told me each had come from two different rescues from indiscriminate breeders who were breeding these huge dogs in apartments and condos. Emma was noticeably smaller than usual because there were—talk about hoarding—over 70 Borzois inside one condo. Because of that overcrowding and the sheer number of dogs, she hadn’t been socialized well and was timid and skittish, but could simply be a happy dog and feel safe around her big brother.

Their favorite room was a spacious sunroom addition at the west end of the home which their person told me had been ambitiously begun by the home’s former owners. They had decided to complete the project and the two-story space would be a paradise for any animal or human. I was enchanted by Traveller, whose head was nearly at my shoulder, and smaller Emma racing gracefully among the plants and wicker furniture and collectibles without touching a thing. I took plenty of photos of them playing along with detail shots of their faces in that wonderfully-balanced light.

Arriving home with the photos I began to work on layouts for the portraits. She wanted a fairly large portrait and we had discussed just including their faces nearly life size, so I designed the layout with their faces above and below, befitting their relationship to each other. I could picture the colors I’d use in both creamy white and inky black fur and how I’d create the textures in each.

detail of the painting

Detail of the flowers

But I kept remembering their play in that sunny room and from one of the photos I’d taken. I designed another portrait with them standing together and a few plants around. This would not be a detailed and realistic portrait, more loose and impressionistic, capturing the light and color and motion I’d perceived. I knew my client would like that as well since I knew the work of other artists she’d purchased and commissioned as well as her other purchases of my art.

I proposed both ideas to her and showed her my layouts done in PhotoShop. She liked both as did I and we agreed I’d work up both of them and see what happened. She would choose one and I would get to keep the other, a great deal for me to have a live portrait on hand as an example.

In the end she chose the more realistic one of just the two faces because she wanted to remember the details of their expressions she’d loved so much (you can see that painting in “Two Portraits, Choose One” on The Creative Cat, though I could tell the choice was difficult knowing how she loved an impressionistic style of painting.

I would have been happy with either one, but in the years since, whenever I’ve shown this painting in exhibits or at my tent in a festival it has always attracted people to come and study it, not just dog lovers or animal lovers, but the colors and composition are eye-catching to most people.

Now that I have a good digital file of “Borzois”, I have the original for sale, framed, as you see above, and a variety of prints on paper and canvas.


 

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair

Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski

Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs

Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski

Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table

After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure

My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.

 


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate

Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.


Browse some rescued cats and kittens!

FinnBaxter-ad


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy


© 2014 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | LINKEDIN | ETSY SHOP | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | STUMBLEUPON | GOOGLE+ | EMAIL

HOME




“Borzois”, Original and Prints

pastel painting of two borzois

“Borzois”, pastel, 25″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Too many ideas leads to two portraits, one for me and one for the customer!

detail of portrait of borzois

Detail of faces.

Several years ago I had the pleasure of painting a portrait of two beautiful rescued Borzois, Traveller and Emma. Their person was also a friend of mine and lived in an enviable remodeled home on a few hilltop acres with wonderful light and horses romping in the pasture next door.

I’d visited before and when she mentioned she’d like a portrait I began envisioning the two dogs and the places in her home and even outdoors in a fenced area where they could play. I knew she had photos but especially with larger animals, and one of them being primarily black, I was glad to be able to meet them and take photos of my own so that I could collect details. Back in the days of film, I had two 36-exposure rolls with me and all my lenses for my trusty little Pentax K-1000. The house was full of windows so lighting likely wouldn’t be an issue.

We followed the dogs around the house, Traveller, the big creamy white dog obviously being the boss and the smaller black and tan Emma following orders and feeling safe near her big brother.

photos of borzoi dogs

The inspiration for the above portrait.

She told me each had come from two different rescues from indiscriminate breeders who were breeding these huge dogs in apartments and condos. Emma was noticeably smaller than usual because there were—talk about hoarding—over 70 Borzois inside one condo. Because of that overcrowding and the sheer number of dogs, she hadn’t been socialized well and was timid and skittish, but could simply be a happy dog and feel safe around her big brother.

Their favorite room was a spacious sunroom addition at the west end of the home which their person told me had been ambitiously begun by the home’s former owners. They had decided to complete the project and the two-story space would be a paradise for any animal or human. I was enchanted by Traveller, whose head was nearly at my shoulder, and smaller Emma racing gracefully among the plants and wicker furniture and collectibles without touching a thing. I took plenty of photos of them playing along with detail shots of their faces in that wonderfully-balanced light.

Arriving home with the photos I began to work on layouts for the portraits. She wanted a fairly large portrait and we had discussed just including their faces nearly life size, so I designed the layout with their faces above and below, befitting their relationship to each other. I could picture the colors I’d use in both creamy white and inky black fur and how I’d create the textures in each.

detail of the painting

Detail of the flowers

But I kept remembering their play in that sunny room and from one of the photos I’d taken. I designed another portrait with them standing together and a few plants around. This would not be a detailed and realistic portrait, more loose and impressionistic, capturing the light and color and motion I’d perceived. I knew my client would like that as well since I knew the work of other artists she’d purchased and commissioned as well as her other purchases of my art.

I proposed both ideas to her and showed her my layouts done in PhotoShop. She liked both as did I and we agreed I’d work up both of them and see what happened. She would choose one and I would get to keep the other, a great deal for me to have a live portrait on hand as an example.

In the end she chose the more realistic one of just the two faces because she wanted to remember the details of their expressions she’d loved so much (you can see that painting in “Two Portraits, Choose One” on The Creative Cat, though I could tell the choice was difficult knowing how she loved an impressionistic style of painting.

I would have been happy with either one, but in the years since, whenever I’ve shown this painting in exhibits or at my tent in a festival it has always attracted people to come and study it, not just dog lovers or animal lovers, but the colors and composition are eye-catching to most people.

Now that I have a good digital file of “Borzois”, I have the original for sale, framed, as you see above, and a variety of prints on paper and canvas.


 

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair

Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski

Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs

Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski

Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table

After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure

My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.

 


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate

Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.


Browse some rescued cats and kittens!

FinnBaxter-ad


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy


© 2014 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | LINKEDIN | ETSY SHOP | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | STUMBLEUPON | GOOGLE+ | EMAIL

HOME




What’s On My Easel? Sasha, First Draft

pastel portrait of shi tzu

Portrait of Sasha, update.

We’ve made a few changes to Sasha’s portrait in the past week. For one thing her person asked if we could remove the pink bow at the top—it was too eye-catching and took attention away from Sasha. Once I’d done that, I decided to remove the pink collar as well to see how that would look. For now, I think I like it better. Sasha is such a little thing those decorations look so big. The portrait was also taking on kind of a pink-and-blue baby cast, and Sasha is little, but she’s not a puppy by any means!

Furthering the portrait along, I went through her fur and blended the color areas together and went back over her fur with a couple of think layers of other colors, color complements, to give her fur color the depth it naturally has. I added just swashes of pale blue in the tan areas and a deeper green in the shadowed areas, then worked the native color, tan and brown back over it. I also added tones of pale blue, green, yellow and violet to her white areas.

Most importantly, I worked on her face, as you can see in the detail image below. Dogs’ eyes are typically dark but they are not black, though in photographs they can appear so if deep-set enough. Sasha’s eyes are not deep-set but when eye color contrasts with the dog’s fur, as they do with Sasha’s white and pale tan fur, it can be very hard to determine the color. I worked a little bit of brown into the black so that you can see a bit of color variation as well as her pupils. That alone really brings her to life.

detail of portrait

Detail of Sasha’s face.

. . . . . . .

First Draft

pastel painting of shi tzu

“Sasha”, first draft, pastel on sanded paper, 12″ x 9″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

We met Sasha back in February when she and her person stopped by to get a few photographs and get a start on her portrait. Through some frustrating email issues we’ve been discussing size and color and now we’re finally ready to put Sasha on paper. I’m so glad to get a start after I’ve been picturing her fur in pastel for all this time! Most often I don’t get to post updates on portraits as I work because the portrait is a surprise or the person simply prefers to keep their privacy as I work, but Sasha’s human is looking forward to sharing updates.

Above is the very first draft in pastel on the sanded paper I use for portraits. It’s at this point, just after the first layer of pastel in limited colors and little blending, that I stop and let the portrait sit for a few hours or a day, then come back and see if everything looks proportional, shadows and highlights are in the right places, relative colors are good, and the overall composition works in the size the portrait will be. Most importantly, I always check to see if I can feel the subject in the painting. If I don’t, I can’t go on without getting to that point. In this case, I definitely feel Sasha is here.

The surface really is like a fine sandpaper and if you imagine pastels to be somewhat like chalk you can imagine how the surface holds the dry pastel so that you can both blend and layer it. This paper is Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper in a tone called Belgian mist, which is always a good mid-range to start from, adding highlights and shadows equally. Really, I do visualize the pastel before I start, applying it to the paper, blending it with my fingers, then working into it with color after color, blending and shaping the pastel surface to achieve that dimensional appearance of light and shadow. This first draft includes very few colors, four tan tones in her fur, four blueish tones in the background including a violet and a turquoise, and pinks for her tongue and her little bows. Sometimes I like them very much at this rough stage and more than once my customer and I have decided to stop at this point. Below is the uncropped version so I have room to spread out the pastel.

pastel painting of shi tzu

“Sasha”, first draft, the whole sheet, pastel on sanded paper, 12″ x 9″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

And below is the main reference photo. I have others as closeups for her face. While the main photo is professionally done I can always use detail images of faces, especially dark eyes and noses, but even light areas like paws. We discussed her bows, which are colored for Christmas, and decided we’d use a color that would work any time of the year. I wanted to use a blue background to complement her tan fur, and since pink was another popular color for this little girl, pink it was.

shi tzu dog

Sasha’s reference photo

Sasha has congestive heart failure and though she’s doing well her human wants to have this done now while she’s still looking healthy. She had won the certificate at last summer’s Animal Care and Assistance event to help raise money for veterinary costs at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Clinic.


 

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read about my special for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days.

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair

Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski

Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs

Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski

Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table

After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Commissioned Portraits and Featured Artwork

If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current and past portraits and paintings and art assignments, each week I feature a piece of artwork on Wednesday and a new product on Thursday. Choose the category for featured artwork to see an archive of all these posts, or if you want to see only my portraits choose commissioned portraits.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates from my Etsy shop.

You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive through PayPal. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy


© 2014 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | LINKEDIN | ETSY SHOP | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | STUMBLEUPON | GOOGLE+ | EMAIL

HOME


What’s On My Easel? Sasha, First Draft

pastel painting of shi tzu

“Sasha”, first draft, pastel on sanded paper, 12″ x 9″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

We met Sasha back in February when she and her person stopped by to get a few photographs and get a start on her portrait. Through some frustrating email issues we’ve been discussing size and color and now we’re finally ready to put Sasha on paper. I’m so glad to get a start after I’ve been picturing her fur in pastel for all this time! Most often I don’t get to post updates on portraits as I work because the portrait is a surprise or the person simply prefers to keep their privacy as I work, but Sasha’s human is looking forward to sharing updates.

Above is the very first draft in pastel on the sanded paper I use for portraits. It’s at this point, just after the first layer of pastel in limited colors and little blending, that I stop and let the portrait sit for a few hours or a day, then come back and see if everything looks proportional, shadows and highlights are in the right places, relative colors are good, and the overall composition works in the size the portrait will be. Most importantly, I always check to see if I can feel the subject in the painting. If I don’t, I can’t go on without getting to that point. In this case, I definitely feel Sasha is here.

The surface really is like a fine sandpaper and if you imagine pastels to be somewhat like chalk you can imagine how the surface holds the dry pastel so that you can both blend and layer it. This paper is Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper in a tone called Belgian mist, which is always a good mid-range to start from, adding highlights and shadows equally. Really, I do visualize the pastel before I start, applying it to the paper, blending it with my fingers, then working into it with color after color, blending and shaping the pastel surface to achieve that dimensional appearance of light and shadow. This first draft includes very few colors, four tan tones in her fur, four blueish tones in the background including a violet and a turquoise, and pinks for her tongue and her little bows. Sometimes I like them very much at this rough stage and more than once my customer and I have decided to stop at this point. Below is the uncropped version so I have room to spread out the pastel.

pastel painting of shi tzu

“Sasha”, first draft, the whole sheet, pastel on sanded paper, 12″ x 9″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

And below is the main reference photo. I have others as closeups for her face. While the main photo is professionally done I can always use detail images of faces, especially dark eyes and noses, but even light areas like paws. We discussed her bows, which are colored for Christmas, and decided we’d use a color that would work any time of the year. I wanted to use a blue background to complement her tan fur, and since pink was another popular color for this little girl, pink it was.

shi tzu dog

Sasha’s reference photo

Sasha has congestive heart failure and though she’s doing well her human wants to have this done now while she’s still looking healthy. She had won the certificate at last summer’s Animal Care and Assistance event to help raise money for veterinary costs at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Clinic.


 

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read about my special for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days.

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair

Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski

Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs

Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski

Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table

After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Commissioned Portraits and Featured Artwork

If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current and past portraits and paintings and art assignments, each week I feature a piece of artwork on Wednesday and a new product on Thursday. Choose the category for featured artwork to see an archive of all these posts, or if you want to see only my portraits choose commissioned portraits.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates from my Etsy shop.

You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive through PayPal. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy


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Commissioned Portraits: Star and Pepe, and Their House

pastel portrait of german shepherd and terrier
“Star and Pepe”, 1994, pastel, 12″ x 16″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Star and Pepe weren’t cuddle buddies and though they were totally different in their relationship with their humans and the way they’d come into their lives, they shared the duties of guarding their home in their own ways.

Star, a papered German Shepherd, was a old farm dog, a guard dog, and sometimes a herding dog. Having started out his life on a farm, this couple had had to sell the small farm after an injury prevented them from working it any more, kept a couple acres of land and built a home. Star came with them to the new home, but while he’d been well-fed and cared for and was very much loved by his people, he’d spent a good bit of his life running the perimeter of the fences, patroling the barns and keeping intruders and wildlife away from the animals in the fields. When they moved to the house he was not interested in sleeping on the couch and though they had acreage letting him to roam as he had on the farm just didn’t work. The compromise was to give him a big sheltered house outside and a long lead on a run so that he had could still run some distance, inspect what was happening at the edge of the woods and keep an eye on his home.

When I met him he was about 15 years old, and in 1994 that was very old for a German Shepherd and it was easy to see he had some arthritis and found it difficult to run, but he greeted his people and me with all the gravity of his lifelong occupation of working dog.

Pepe on the other hand was a coddled little Yorkie who thought of himself just as much the watchdog as his far larger and more muscular fur brother, but what he lacked in strength he made up for  volume. The people had decided they wanted a dog to be in the house with them but didn’t want a large dog, and they wanted a dog that would be happy to accompany them outdoors in all weather and Pepe filled that description. He and Star regularly checked in with each other, touching noses, exchanging glances, sharing canine information all the while I was there, Star pretty much lying or walking in one area near his house, and Pepe running circles around him and us and everything else. The people loved them both, allowing the two dogs to be who they were.

The house portrait

House portrait, 1994, watercolor, 12" x 16" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
House portrait, 1994, watercolor, 12″ x 16″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This couple had decided they wanted two pieces of artwork done at the same time so they could hang them together. They had relatives who had commissioned me to paint their cats and their parents’ house, so this couple wanted both a portrait of their dogs and of their relatively brand new house, which obviously wasn’t complete without their dogs.

At that time I painted houses in watercolor, not pastel, because it was easier to work the fine details and I just preferred the way they turned out in watercolor. The two would be the same size and would be matted and framed the same.

I was so pleased to be able to paint both in autumn for all its colors, but especially the house, since it was largely white. I had a great time with the window reflections and the shadows from those huge maple trees. I photographed both of these pieces through the glass, not necessarily the best way to capture detail.

And I’d unsuccessfully searched for the reference photos I’d taken to create these portraits, then I remembered that way back in the beginning I dedicated one or more rolls of film to a portrait and I charged my customers for it when I had to visit them to photograph my subjects, so I gave them the photos when the art was done.

Star began staying in their garage over that winter, though he demanded to be let out first thing each morning by digging at the door, and Pepe barked until Star was out on his lead. But by early the next summer he was beginning to fail until all they could do was open the garage door for him each day. I was very touched when they called me near the time he died to tell me how he was doing, and then when he’d passed.  Star had a huge spirit that wouldn’t have been contained by a house even if he’d been raised in one, and I could feel all the loyalty and strength that was the essence of the domestic dog that had accompanied the human race for millennia when I was with him.

. . . . . . .

For a couple of other autumn portraits see also Betts, Sophie and Ellie, Being Very Good and Cassie and Tyler, Rescued Rescue Dogs.




Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates on The Creative Cat, on my main website, or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.normalcy.


Click here to find out how you can help homeless cats this holiday season!

Sophie-HolidayCheerForHomelessPets-300



Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.
Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy!

 


Commissioned Portrait for Autumn: Cassie and Tyler, Rescued Rescue Dogs

portrait of two labrador retrievers
Cassie and Tyler, pastel, 26″ x 19″, 1995 © B.E. Kazmarski

It is finally autumn, and at the beginning of each season I post original art and prints of artwork for sale in yet another e-newsletter from my studio, one that focuses on my fine art rather than only my feline inspirations through The Creative Cat. I will be offering prints of this painting as well as “Sophie and Ellie, Being Very Good” in various sizes because both have autumnal backgrounds. I’m featuring Cassie and Tyler this week to let you know about that e-newsletter. I have a link to the sign-up for it at the end of this post.

This portrait of Cassie and Tyler is the companion portrait to A Portrait in Oranges—these two rescued Labrador retrievers belonged to the same person. She had decided she wanted two portraits, one of her cats and one of her dogs, as much alike as possible so they could hang together, but their individual personalities could also show.

Like the close relationship between Amaretto, Simon and Merlin, Cassie and Tyler were also best friends. Cassie was the lead dog so Tyler could act like a big playful puppy, but the two were very close and had to be playing with or at least touching each other all the time. They were mixed breeds but advertised as retrievers, but the results of bad backyard breeding showed only in some physical features and health—they were Labs through and through. Trained as search and rescue dogs, they were social and outgoing, adored water and any type of play involving carrying something. She gave me photos and I took a couple of rolls when I visited, then I took some of Tyler separately because he was so black that I couldn’t balance the exposure with very light-colored Cassie and kept losing his details.

detaIl of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Detail of their faces.

We decided to place them near water since they are Search and Rescue dogs and love to swim, even if it’s only a kiddie pool in the back yard. I could use some of my photos from parks and natural areas I’d visited and along with the dogs paint a landscape with them in it. What could be better? I had also been studying classic dog portraiture and took away a good bit of visual information about poses, backgrounds and color palettes. I used a photo of the lake in Cross Creek Park in Avella, PA, near the Meadowcroft Rockshelter. My photos were from an autumn day when I’d visited, but I also used other photos I’d taken for some of the details. I wanted the tree-covered hills with variable leaf color, but I also wanted a day where big clouds drift across the sky casting huge shadows. I photograph things like that as well and was glad for the images when I went to paint this portrait.

detaIl of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Sky, clouds and trees.

I had to go out in the field, literally, not all the way back to Cross Creek but closer to home to see the dry autumn grass in close up, and then to work it around Cassie and Tyler’s paws, including the shadow from Tyler, something I’d never done to that point in any portrait or painting. How do you paint grass without painting every blade? Well, I worked that out in this portrait—just paint the ones you need. And how does the grass overlap their paws or their torso as with Cassie lying on the ground? The photos I’d taken of them were from summer, but I could still study them for clues.

detaIl of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Detail of paws and grass.

And to that date, I had not painted such a large and detailed landscape, though I’d been studying the details for decades, noting things I liked for some reason, like the weeds silhouetted against the water, and the reflections on the water that showed both the surrounding landscape and the movement of the water.

detail of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Weeds and water.

And like the portrait of Amaretto, Simon and Merlin, this portrait is also a favorite since Labs are such a favorite breed, and seeing them outside in their natural element always makes people smile.

I apologize for the lack of some detail in some of these photos. I’d photographed this through the glass, which was fine for the overall portrait, but it all tends to fall apart when you crop out detailed areas. Still, it’s better to photograph through the glass than to take the whole thing out of the frame and have to put it back together; I am a picture framer, and I will avoid that at all costs.



Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates on The Creative Cat, on my main website, or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.
Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy!

Gifts Featuring Cats You Know
image of cat calendars
2013 desk and journal calendars on sale!

Commissioned Portrait: Clifford

portrait of black and white dog

“Clifford”, pastel, 11″ x 13″, 2005 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This simple portrait was a gift from one friend to another of her dog, Clifford. One of the rare portraits done from one photo—because that was all she could find to use for the surprise—I didn’t have too much other information and met with a bit of a block. Clifford’s pose is typical, in context, with paws hanging off the couch, but we would be doing a basic portrait just about 10″ x 12″ with only the subject so we actually wouldn’t have a couch. Normally I can work from just a few photos to completely change the pose but in Clifford’s case, with his black and white spots going in all directions, I didn’t have the photos I needed and couldn’t make it up. So Clifford ended up kind of hanging in air.

However, I worked in a bit of a resting spot for Clifford. In all portraits and especially these small ones I ask for a favorite or preferred color for the background. In this case the the recipient liked purple, so as I worked the background tones in I also worked in a rough indication of a couch or chair for Clifford to hang his paws off of.

Below a closeup of Clifford’s sweet face. I love his big ears falling all over the place and his playful expression.

detail of portrait

Closeup of Clifford’s face

I was working on this portrait in April 2005, and remember enjoying the purple during the early spring, and also the looseness of the background, blending purple, violet and indigo to give the purple background more interest, and even adding touches of pale violet for highlights, using the side of the pastel to cover large areas and not blending. I’d usually not done that in portraits and it felt daring at that time. Now I enjoy loosening up some areas in portraits. Unfortunately I only photographed Clifford with my basic 2MP digital camera, and this is the greatest level of detail I can show.


An Article on My Creative Process

If you enjoy reading about how I create my artwork, you’ll enjoy an article by The Musings of a Crazy Cat Lady author Stephanie Newman, “Cats Gave Artist Bernadette E. Kazmarski Her Calling”. Thank you, Stephanie!


Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates on The Creative Cat, on my main website, or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.
Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy!

Gifts Featuring Cats You Know
image of cat calendars
2013 desk and journal calendars on sale!

Commissioned Portrait: Veronica’s Tulips, with Schnauzer

watercolor painting of tulips and dog
“Veronica’s Tulips,” watercolor, 16″ x 22″, 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I’ve referenced this painting a few other times in posts about commissioned portraits around Mother’s Day, and while it may simply look like a painting of a vibrant vase of tulips, it was actually her choice of how to combine two things she loved into a custom piece of artwork.

I had painted a watercolor of tulips in in 1996; it was popular as a print, then the original was purchased as well. When the Veronica of the title said she’d like to purchase the original, I had to tell her it had been sold but that I could always paint something custom just for her. We discussed the flowers and the colors it would have, the general tones, indoors by a window or outdoors in a garden.

detail of painting of tulips and dog
The top of the bouquet with the Battenberg lace curtains.

But she had also been wanting an animal portrait, but not of one particular animal, just something to remember her love of schnauzers and the ones she’d lived with. She didn’t want two paintings, though. Well, I said, we could work that out with one painting. Somewhere in the painting we’d also have a schnauzer, not necessarily one of hers, but preferably silver gray and definitely with floppy, unclipped ears. And she was happy to have a piece of customized art that could combine the animal art she’d always wanted with the painting of flowers she’d always wanted.

I collected my photos of flowers and outdoor gardens and took even more (imagine that), found bits and pieces from seed catalogs, department store catalogs and any other place I could find bouquets and vases and curtains and tables and garden benches and so on. I had also recently painted a small portrait of a schnauzer for a friend (someday I’ll review that painting) and asked her if I could use her photos as reference.

detail of painting
Detail of tulips and table.

My first thought was the schnauzer lounging out in the garden but no ideas worked out in that theme. I had the schnauzer on a chair next to the flowers, on a window seat and other possibilities, working them all out in Photoshop so she and I could both see well ahead of time what the painting would look like.

Bbut in the end we wanted to take the emphasis off of one particular schnauzer—and at that size the dog would be recognizable—and put the emphasis on the tulips. Since it would be a fairly large painting I thought about placing the dog inside a picture frame either on the wall or on the tabletop within the painting, and the frame on the tabletop worked perfectly. I added the red pillow and red bow to draw your eye to that area and make sure viewers saw the schnauzer.

detail of painting of tulips and dog
Detail of the schnauzer in the picture frame.

Why don’t I do more of these if they are so popular? It’s a big investment in time—I might work on one tulip for a total of an hour over the course of working the painting, blocking it in, adding detail, then regularizing the light and shadow over the entire painting. But go ahead, make me study and paint flowers for hours on end! I love every single minute of it. For this painting I used a basic bouquet, but added all my favorite colors and types of tulips. If I’m going to spend that much time on them, I might as well paint what I like.

And as I spend the time I think of the illustrators in previous centuries who painted botanicals, those detailed drawings and paintings of flowers that became the color plates in books that even today people collect. Many of these painters were women because this was considered a suitable employment for a woman but they received very little notice for their work, and yet they painted on for the love of it. I have a book entitled Women of Flowers: A Tribute to Victorian Women Illustrators that gives life to all the talented women who made a living but who never saw their names in print. I am nowhere near their level, and my admiration for them is great.

tulips
Just a section of the tulips.

And as I’ve mentioned, this pet mom got the painting for herself for Mother’s Day, and knowing her, this was the perfect solution. She really didn’t want to commemorate one particular dog nor did she want a collage, and even focusing on just one schnauzer, even if it hadn’t been one of her companions, just didn’t feel right for her. The little schnauzer in the picture frame is all of the dogs she knew and the brightness of the flowers and the sunny window echoes the happy memories.


Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure
My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates on The Creative Cat, on my main website, or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.
Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy!

Gifts Featuring Cats You Know
image of cat calendars
2013 desk and journal calendars on sale!

Commissioned Portraits: How I Actually Put One Together

portrait of five cats
“Ripley, Murphy, O.G., Veda and Missy Kitty”, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

I’ve discussed plenty of portraits here but for the most part you’ve only seen finished works, and not seen how I actually put a portrait together, start to finish. I had prepared the presentation of this portrait, painted in 1998, for my original website and it’s a good example of a pretty complicated portrait with several subjects and a scenic background, plus it’s five rescued cats, what could be better?

The process is different for each portrait depending on what’s needed, and this portrait needed just about all the tricks I have in my little bag. I had the opportunity to visit their home and meet each one of them, and so spent about two hours talking to their mom about each one of them and following them around, photographing them in their habitat and with their habits even though their mom also had plenty of photos.

photos of cats on desk
Organizing the photos.

Being able to photograph them myself gives me the best visual information—after all, would you photograph just your cat’s tail anticipating that someday you might need that photograph? I can do that if I feel I need it.

Their mom adopted each of them individually either from shelters or from rescues, so each had a story that added to what I gathered about their personalities. We talked about where the portrait might be hung to help determine size and certain elements of the design, but she left the details up to me.

Depending on the complexity of the portrait and how many photographs I have to combine to get the scene, I may simply begin the drawing with no preliminaries or will create a pencil sketch to size. However, it’s a rarity that I don’t combine fewer than three pictures, and for this one I lost count of the number of pictures I combined. I used to have to sketch it out, even enlarging and cutting and pasting on a copier but now I use PhotoShop, scan the photos or use the digitals provided and combine them into a final finished composite.

composite for cat portrait
Composite created from individual images and even bits and pieces of images.

For this portrait, I created two composites which I liked equally, and so did my client, but in the end the spot over the fireplace made the decision for the long narrow format. Each of the subjects is a composite of at least two photographs for face, paws, tail, eyes, ears, etc. I had an idea to use the bay window with windowseat for them all because the light was so beautiful and each of them visited this spot regularly, plus I enjoy painting architectural details.

three cats in portrat
O.G. loved everyone while Veda was a little skittish and Miss Kitty kept to herself.

So I made a composite image of each cat, then combined each of the individual composites, added the window in the background with enough of the windowseat included for placement, and sent it off to my client for approval—on paper.

A composite like this also means I have to equalize the lighting, make up shadows and highlights and the lay of the fur when I get down to the final drawing and when designing the posture and setting, which can be tricky but also one of the ways my cats have earned their living as I model them into the pose and lighting I need…sort of.

I always try to place the subjects against a background area which will complement their looks. But it’s not all about their looks—in combining multiples like this, I try to pair together animals which are friendly with each other and keep the “enemies” far apart.

When I began work, I enlarged the composite to the actual size of the finished drawing, printed it out, covered the back with a dark shade of pastel, and transferred it onto my drawing paper, which is an archival quality, 600-grit sanded paper.

After generally filling in the actual colors in the drawing and checking to make sure that everything was in proportion and in proper perspective, I was ready to work the actual drawing at my easel, with all the reference photos near.

two cats
Ripley and Murphy were buddies.

I usually work the background first, then work one subject at a time, keeping the whole work at about the same level of detail. I may go over a portrait three or four times this way, each time working more color and detail into the work. In this case, because the window is a large portion of the work, I wanted to make certain all the structure and detail of it wouldn’t compete with the subjects, so I left it with less detail and color than the subjects and the surface they’re resting on.

The final pass adds the highlights in the fur, the whiskers and the sparkles in the eyes. When they look back at me from the drawing, I know it’s done. But it’s not really done until my client reviews it to make sure I’ve gotten everything right—after all, they are your companions, and I’d be just as fussy about mine. In this case, Veda was just not right—she’s a very tiny, slender cat, but shy, and the only clear picture I had gotten of her was of her hunched up a little scared under a table. Even though the image was accurate, it just wasn’t Veda, so my client sent me a few more photos of just her and I reworked that area. Since I had to slim her down and make her a little taller, and Veda is primarily black against a pale background, I had to actually lift quite a bit of pastel off of the paper and start over in some areas. If you compare the finished portrait at the beginning of this article with the sketch below, you’ll see the difference in Veda’s image.

portrait of cats on easel.
The portrait is nearly done.

Working With My Customers

In the end, any portrait means I work closely with my customer, often at an emotionally difficult time, and we’ve found this can actually help with grief. I can stop at any point if it’s too painful, or carry on if it’s working well. I’ve developed lasting friendships with many portrait customers, even long distance, hearing about new adoptions and losses, and several have returned for another portrait. It’s the part of this process I enjoy almost as much as creating a piece of artwork.


 

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.


Download a Brochure

cover of brochure
My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates on The Creative Cat, on my main website, or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.
Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy!

Gifts Featuring Cats You Know
image of cat calendars
2013 desk and journal calendars on sale!

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