Tag Archives: photography

Compositions in Black and Green Calendar, Cards and Keepsakes

Compositions in Black and Green keepsake box set

Papier-mâché boxes hand-painted in black and mint green with prints of three photos decoupaged to the lid. Lid and bottom are finished with matte-finish Modge Podge. Boxes measure 6″x4″, 5″x3″ and 4″x2.5″ in diameter x 3″ high.

Use for storage for small items, photos or special keepsakes, or use as gift boxes.

Black was a natural color for “Compositions in Black and Green”, and while I avoid mixing colors because they are difficult to repeat later I mixed the shade of green to work coordinate with the famous mint green sink. I paint each box, then print my artwork on acid-free matte-finish paper with archival waterproof inks and adhere the print to the lid. I finish the bottom and lid of the box with matte-finish Modge Podge. Box insides are unfinished.

This set is available on Etsy, and scroll down to see the 2013 calendar. A set of four greeting cards is also available on Etsy.


calendar cover with black cat
Compositions in Black and Green

Compositions in Black and Green 2013 Calendar

Shop for sets of items beginning with “Compositions in Black and Green 2013 Calendar” and related items such as keepsake boxes, coasters, mounted images for wall or tabletop, and greeting cards for an all-around gift.

The calendar features 12 popular images of the Fantastic Four and their Mama Mimi in the mint green and white bathroom. Each calendar page also features other smaller images as well, so it’s a feast of black cats containing about four dozen images.

The calendar is a 5.5″ x 8″ spiral-bound and is bound two ways: across the top so that it hangs like a wall calendar, or down the left so that it opens like a journal.

photo of cat looking in mirror
“God, I’m Cute” greeting card set.

Click here to browse some of the images included in this calendar. To order, please visit the Calendars page on The Creative Cat.

You can also choose from the set of cards featuring four of the images that inspired this set on Etsy or you can just find the most popular image, “God, I’m Cute”, also on Etsy.

Some of the things I’m—oops!—still making are the individual and sets of keepsake boxes, coasters, and 5″ x 7″ images mounted on plain wood blocks for wall or tabletop.

These cards are 5″ x 7″, blank inside and printed on 12 pt. card stock with matching natural white envelopes and packed in a clear-top white cardboard greeting card box. On the back is the story of the photo.

set of four cards with black cats

Compositions in Green and Black

Who knew that vintage mint green sink would photograph in such a rich tone, especially when filled with a black cat? From the time I installed the new bathroom, the black cats owned it and the contrast of their black fur with the mint green fixtures and white walls and floor has been stunning and created some of the most favorite photos in my cat collection.

The set includes two familiar images, but really focuses on one kitty—Jelly Bean! “God, I’m Cute” pictures Jelly Bean admiring himself in the mirror long offered as a greeting card, and “Drink Straight From the Tap” shows the Fantastic Four all drinking from the sink faucet at the same time. The new designs are “Composition in Green and Black”, offered by request but one of my favorite atmospheric images of Jelly Bean dozing in the sun on the edge of the sink, and “Toe Cleaning in Green and Black”, the Bean once again in a close-up capture of activity with the mint green sink reflecting on Bean’s black fur and paws.

Use them for all-purpose greeting cards, sympathy, thinking of you, friendship, or find some stylish frames for 5″ x 7″ images and frame them for your walls. Find these in my Etsy shop in sets of four or a dozen.

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Victoriana Cats Greeting Cards and Keepsakes

set of four sepia images of black cats

Victoriana Cats in dreamy semi-sepia tones

Though these photos may look antique and sepia-toned, they are neither. My cats are perfect models and knew to pose in the bright yellow morning sun in front of my round antique mirror and the narrow casement window with the lace curtain. I applied a few Photoshop filters to the original photos to make them consistent in tone and style.

Use them for all-purpose greeting cards, sympathy, thinking of you, friendship, or find some shabby chic frames for 5″ x 7″ images and frame them for your walls. Find these in my Etsy shop in sets of four or a dozen.

I also have this design available on a small set of keepsake boxes.

Victoriana Cats Keepsake Box Set

“Victoriana Cats” Keepsake Box Set

Papier-mâché boxes hand-painted in black and crackle-finish gold and cream with prints of three photos decoupaged to the lid. Lid and bottom are finished with matte-finish Modge Podge. Boxes measure 6″x4″, 5″x3″ and 4″x2.5″ in diameter x 3″ high.

Use for storage for small items, photos or special keepsakes, or use as gift boxes.

Black was a natural color for “Victoriana Cats”, and I’ve been waiting to try a new crackle-finish glaze–this was the perfect subject. The base color is a pale antique gold, pulling mid-range highlights in the sepia-look photos, with a natural white top coat nicely crackled. I paint each box, then print my artwork on acid-free matte-finish paper with archival waterproof inks and adhere the print to the lid. I finish the bottom and lid of the box with matte-finish Modge Podge. Box insides are unfinished.

This set is available on Etsy, and scroll down to see the greeting card set.

Discounts in honor of Black Cat Friday

Support small home-based black cats and small home-based businesses, conserve air quality, save money, shop in your jammies and pet your kitties all at the same time. Friday, November 23 through Monday, November 26, The Creative Cat is offering 25% off all black cat-themed items already available and custom-made—and a few things I’m working on right now!

I find it imperative to create things that will benefit the adoption of black cats, so often left behind in the shelter by using the five wonderful black cats who live with me. They’ll show the world that everyone needs to have at least one black kitty in their life, and, at least in my house, the more the merrier! I strive to include silly, cute and artful photos and sketches in equal measure, just the thing to show others what black cats can bring to your life.

In preparation for Black Cat Friday (and Saturday and Sunday and Monday) browse my black cat-themed items on Etsy, and a few easy suggestions I have below for things you’ll find there and here on The Creative Cat.


June Featured Artwork and Desktop Calendar

pastel painting of calico cat with peonies

“Peaches and Peonies”, pastel, 23″ x 16″, 2008 © B.E. Kazmarski

It was at the beginning of June five years ago that I took the reference photos, and at the beginning of June in 2008 that I finished this painting of my little Peaches in her moment of glory.

There it is, that moment that turns on all the lights for me…one of my cats in the sun, the conditions that have inspired most of my portraits. Cats are creatures of habit, and Peaches chose this spot to have her after-dinner bath every day for a few weeks when the sun was right; I knew it was a keeper whether a photo or a painting, so I photographed it several times over a period of several days, knowing I’d use at least one photo or all the photos as reference to create one painted image. A painting this size and level of details is a significant investment of time, so I had to wait until my schedule allowed the night-after-night sessions with tiny sections of detail. It’s one of those paintings I still look at and can’t believe I painted; Peaches and Peonies hangs in my studio watching over my work and providing constant inspiration.

detail of painting

detail of painting

Senior Pet Adoption Donation Program through prints of “Peaches and Peonies”

I would make a big donation to the shelter or rescue of the person’s choice who chose to purchase the original of Peaches and Peonies, but I also have a Senior Pet Adoption Donation Program regarding the purchase of a giclee of this painting, and this also ties in to Adopt-a-Cat Month because you should always consider a senior kitty! Through the purchase of a full-size giclee of “Peaches and Peonies”, $25.00 of your purchase price will be donated to the senior pet adoption program in your name or the name of your choice.

detail of painting

detail of painting

About Peaches

Peaches came to my home at age 15, and despite my efforts to place her in a new home, she ended up staying with me. Most prospective adopters were concerned that Peaches was older and might not live long, but my point was that Peaches needed a home no matter what age she was. At the time this painting was done, she’d been with me three years, her petite prettiness, pleasant personality and simple friendliness providing much joy for me, and she was a big favorite of most visitors to my home. And then, she’s also the subject of not only this painting, but several other paintings and sketches as well as photographs, so in three years she provided a good bit of inspiration, not to mention wake-up duties and not-so-gentle reminders about it being dinnertime.

Peaches came to be homeless because her owner died; she was nearly euthanized because no one could figure out what to do with her, not wanting to take her to a shelter. Often, older pets come from situations like this, or where the owner has to enter the hospital or a care home, and no one can take the animal left behind. They are euthanized by the family or end up in shelters and are most often passed by, even though a “seasoned” pet usually makes the best companion.

Three years or three decades or three weeks, every adoptable animal like Peaches deserves a good and loving home. Especially now, during Adopt a Senior Pet Month, consider helping those who are most vulnerable.

detail of painting

detail of painting

Purchase a print and choose your senior pet adoption program

Giclée prints are printed on heavyweight acid-free archival paper using light-fast archival inks using a direct liquid printing process so fine that my prints are often indistinguishable from my originals. Each print is signed by me, the artist. I prefer this process not only because of its clarity and precision but also because I can order only one print at a time instead of ordering dozens or hundreds, and it costs the same per print no matter how many I get. For that reason, I order them from my printer as I receive orders

  • Full-size, 23″ x 16″, $150.00
  • Half-size, 13″ x 9″, $75.00 (see “framing” below)

You pay for the print and give me the name of the senior pet adoption program of your choice. I process your order and send a donation to the program in your name or the name of your choosing, and either ask them to send you an acknowledgement or send you one myself. I usually make the donations through PayPal since most shelters use it now, and I can send you a acknowledgement through PayPal.

detail of painting

Detail of painting

Shipping

I can ship the smaller prints flat for $10.95, but need to ship the full-size prints rolled for economy at $15.95 since the package is slightly oversized when shipping flat. However, I can ship flat for $25.95, or a surcharge of $10.00. I’m not fond of rolled prints, but I don’t like bent ones either.

Framing

Framing is often more expensive than the art itself. Custom framing is available for an estimate; I custom frame all my own things. To save a little bit on framing, I chose 13″ x 9″ for the the smaller print so that it would fit into a pre-made 16″ x 20″ frame that comes with an 11″ x 14″ mat leaving white space around the print, which is typical in framing a high-quality print. The larger will fit into a pre-made 24″ x 30″ frame, though you may need to purchase a mat since most larger frames don’t come with a mat.

Ordering

Visit the Portraits of Animals Marketplace on my website, choose “Cats” under “Original Art and Prints”, or click here to go directly to “Peaches and Peonies” in my Marketplace. In your PayPal shopping cart you’ll be able to give special instructions, and you can add that you’d like to donate through the program and give me the contact information for the shelter of your choice.

You can also visit my Etsy shop, and when you order through PayPal you’ll be able to enter instructions about your chosen donation program.

Download a desktop calendar featuring Peaches and Peonies

And to give you something inspiring and beautiful to look at for all the month of June, and to remind you how special senior kitties are and the importance of finding homes for all cats, I’ve designed a simple desktop wallpaper calendar featuring Peaches and Peonies. It’s too darned difficult to create one that fits everyone’s desktop, so I’ve created three basic shapes—full size, wide and square—that will probably adjust to fit most desktops; I can give you some help with this if it’s not working quite right.

  1. Click on one of the images above to pull it up in a new page.
  2. Click on the image on that page to pull up a full-size version of just the image.
  3. Right-click on that image and choose “save as desktop wallpaper” or “save as background” or whichever option your operating system gives you to be able to do this.

Other New Products and Specials for Adopt-a-Cat Month

framed pastel painting of two cats at window

“The Sunny Upstairs Window”, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

This month I have several of the daily sketches you liked best for sale and I’ve been busy with block prints for note cards and textiles, and I’ve compiled two new sets of greeting cards for you to choose from. I’m also experimenting with a monthly desktop calendar featuring one of my paintings for you to download!

I firmly believe that looking at beautiful images fills our hearts with a special sort of peace, and also promotes love for the subject of the image, and so I always hope with every image I share that I am helping to promote a peaceful world in even a tiny way and a love of cats in all their beautiful shapes and colors and ways of being. Because June is Adopt-A-Cat month, I’ll be offering specials to help promote adopting cats from shelters—if you’re not convinced already, I hope this will!

Favorite Daily Sketches

At left is “The Sunny Upstairs Window” from May 11, 2012. The original is for sale in my Etsy shop along with many other original and prints of daily sketches in my Daily Sketches section.

You can also visit The Creative Cat in the category Daily Sketch to see more sketches and to read an article which displays and describes each one, or visit the Daily Sketches gallery in my Etsy shop to see which other sketches are available.

Handmade, hand-printed, hand-painted Tortie Girls textiles
hand-printed placemats with tortoiseshell cats

My tortie girls Cookie and Kelly on canvas placemats!

block printed tablecloths with tortoiseshell cats

Tortie Girls Tablecloths!

Hand-printed “Tabbies” Summer Notecards

Bright-colored card stock and bright-colored inks, I’ve been having fun experimenting with the “Tabbies” series in different styles and colors.

colorful hand-printed notecards

“Tabbies” handmade block-printed notecards for summer.

Compositions in Green and Black

Who knew that vintage mint green sink would photograph in such a rich tone, especially when filled with a black cat? From the time I installed the new bathroom, the black cats owned it and the contrast of their black fur with the mint green fixtures and white walls and floor has been stunning and created some of the most favorite photos in my cat collection.

set of four cards with black cats

Compositions in Green and Black

Victoriana Cats

Though these photos may look antique and sepia-toned, they are neither. My cats are perfect models and knew to pose in the bright yellow morning sun in front of my round antique mirror and the narrow casement window with the lace curtain. I applied a few Photoshop filters to the original photos to make them consistent in tone and style.

set of four sepia images of black cats

Victoriana Cats in dreamy semi-sepia tones

photo of five cats in studio

My studio cats are ready for a creative day.

Special orders and requests

If you see a daily sketch on The Creative Cat you’d like to have, please tell me. Likewise, if you have a custom item in mind contact me to describe it, or if an item is out of stock and you’d like to know when I’ll be making that item again, please ask!. Send me an e-mail.

I couldn’t do it without my studio cats!

My feline inspirations and I thank you for browsing and for purchasing handmade goods and supporting a small business! Click here or on the photo to read about the studio cats in the photo.

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

Read about the reason for the daily sketches in The Artist’s Life: Daily Sketches.

And read about purchasing them and requesting them as a donation item for your shelter or rescue group in The Artist’s Life: Daily Sketches for Sale and Donation.


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 purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Donated Art, and an Event

pastel sketch of trail

Christmas Day on the Trail, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

I took a walk on the Panhandle Trail on Christmas Day 2011, a lovely sunny day and even fairly warm, no snow, but no rain either. Of course, there were many photo opportunities and one of my pleasures of being on the trail is also doing a sketch or two. Above is my sketch from that Christmas Day, just a nice spot on the trail where the sun angled across the hills, touching certain trees and not others, throwing sunny splashes across the limestone chip surface. I remember the sycamores were very, very white, even in the shadows, and the oak trees on the hill a warm bright bronze in the sunlight.

I most often bicycle Panhandle, and though I am also on other trails this is the most familiar to me for how often I am on it. I always have my camera equipment and art materials; sometimes I am less about bicycling for the day than I am about painting and have easels and drawing boards and then some, pulling my bike along like a two-wheeled pack horse. But whether I am set up for a day of en plein air (“in the open air”) painting right there on the trail or just a quick sketch before I pedal on, I’m glad the trails are there for me.

Small sketches, affordable art and donations

I have a house full of small sketches I’ve done of my cats, my garden, my neighborhood and especially local trails and conservation areas. Usually pastel but sometimes pencil or charcoal or pen and ink, I’ve organized the originals into exhibits such as Winter White and printed them as notecards like My Home Town, Feline Sketches and Eye on the Sparrow.

I try to frame the originals as soon as possible, cutting my own mats and framing them with repurposed frames which people have given me or I’ve found at thrift shops and yard sales and cleaned up and refinished. They always come together in a nice, neat and unique piece of artwork. Because they are small and quick and I recycle materials, I also keep their prices affordable for someone who wants a piece of original artwork. I sell them myself and in other places—for instance, a number of these are now at Distinctively Different Decor & More and in my Etsy shop—but I also donate a certain number of these auctions to benefit animal shelters and other organizations; I’m gratified to find that bidding is often higher than what I would charge, so I’ve been able to benefit an organization I support with something I’ve created.

The Montour Trail Council is hosting the Pittsburgh Cycling Expo on Sunday, March 25 to benefit the Montour Trail. I’ve donated prints for their events in the past, and this time I offered a selection of recent trail sketches I’ve done on the Panhandle Trail and they chose the sketch above, “Christmas Day on the Trail”. I originally wrote about it on Today the day after I visited the trail, and you’ll see I added to it after I finished it—in order to make it fit the frame that matched it perfectly out of my stock of extras! But I so appreciate the presence of these trails which I use as often as possible for exercise, for art, for inspiration that I’m glad I can offer this for their benefit.

I’m also donating a framed photo, below, which is not from the trail, but it includes a bicycle, “Commuter”, taken in Pittsburgh’s Strip District; I’ve always liked this photo and it’s sold well at outdoor events, so I hope this earns bids for them as well.

Visit the website to read about the event which is sponsored by AeroTech Designs, a local clothing manufacturer in Coraopolis, PA that makes cycling clothing. In a roundabout way, I’m glad to be supporting a local business and employer as well.

framed photo of bicycle leaning against building

Commuter, photo © B.E. Kazmarski


Sepia Miniatures, Feline Photos Set

set of three miniature sepia photos

Set of sepia miniature photos of Stanley, Sally and Cookie.

I’m sorting through merchandise as I bring it back from my shop and found these three photos. I don’t like to leave things packed away—I forget they are there, and I forget where they are, so as much as possible I hang things on the wall. These three will hang near the kitchen doorway again, but I’d love to find a home for them.

framed sepia photo of white cat

Speckle Sally Walking photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Cats love to hang out in the sun, and sometimes the combination of their markings and the light and shadow can create an abstract effect, especially in black and white. I love miniatures too, especially in sets, just little accents that make a statement all their own.

These are three of my favorite little black and white photos which I printed in sepia to match the walnut-stained frames, and hand-cut black core mats to match in tan and natural white.

sepia photo of tabby cat in sun

Speckle Stanley Napping photo © B.E. Kazmarski

“Speckle Sally Walking” featuring my long-haired white cat and “Speckle Stanley Napping” featuring my tabby Stanley are vertical images matted with natural white on top with a black core.

“Sunny Cookie” featuring my tortie girl lying in a diagonal strip of sun is a horizontal image matted in ecru with a black core.

Frame size is 3.5″ x 5″, mat opening is 1.5″ x 3″.

sepia photo of tortoiseshell cat in sun

Sunny Cookie photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Frames are solid wood, walnut stained but with no polyurethane so the texture of the wood shows in a matte finish.

You can find the listed in my Etsy shop under Sepia Miniatures, Feline Photos Set.


A Custom Daily Feline Photo

matted and framed photo of four black cats eating

The Fantastic Four at Four, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

A friend enjoyed one of my daily photos so much he wanted a print for himself!

Of course, it’s less to do with me than it is with the “Fantastic Four at Four”, perfectly lined up and having their birthday breakfast on July 26, 2011, the day they turned four years old.

I actually included the photo (below) in the post about Mimi’s “birthday”, July 29,which is the day she arrived here with the “tiny four” and which has become her nominal birthday since I have no idea when it really is. And the Fantastic Four get enough attention, Mimi deserves her own day for lots of reasons.

four black cats eating

Fantastic Four eating breakfast on the big day: Jelly Bean, Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine and Mewsette.

This was kind of staged—they don’t normally eat up there, and they don’t normally eat dry food, but just to get a shot of them all lined up I used bowls of their favorite grain-free dry that I know they all like and, heavens, forced them to eat it! Right. They were lined up as soon as the bowls came out, and if I could only have recorded the purring along with the image…

On seeing the post, a friend said he’d like a print of that photo, and I was thrilled he was interested and also had a few ideas. I play around with these photos and others myself all the time, adjusting colors, adding filters, matting and framing and even printing them on canvas and tote bags and tees and lots of other things as I plan new merchandise and experiment with products and techniques.

I’d also seen this person’s home and remembered a lovely retro scheme of 1950s bold pastels like pink and yellow and sky blue and mint green along with brushed and bright chrome (especially that totally cool chrome chandelier with the pastel ceramic cups and saucers as the light fixtures), and along with asking what size he’d like it I offered to mat and frame it. I was picturing the photo in black and white instead of color, a bright or brushed chrome frame in a particular retro style, and a white mat with a colored liner, mint green—for the Four and their favorite sink— or pink since the color was often used in the room.

So that was the plan. He gave me the size for the area it would go, I planned out the size of the frame and mat and print and put it together. The frame size of the finished piece is 11.5″ x 24.5″, the image is 6.5″ x 19.5″.

four black cats eating

The Fantastic Four, the final version of the photo.

When black and white photos are printed through a color printing machine, as most of us have our prints made now, you’ll see a slight color cast that varies for many reasons, from the content of your own file to the machine that prints them. It’s not always noticeable until you put it with another color, and in this case when I cut the mat and looked at the print next to the pink, it looked a less-than-attractive dull green. I filled the photo just 3% pink and readjusted the brightest highlights back to white and it worked perfectly with the mat.

I just love knowing that my cats are out there being enjoyed by other people. One of these days I hope to have an actual studio where shots like this will be even easier, especially if I use the right cat food, but for now the candid daily shots are also very much enjoyed.

And they serve their purpose for me as well as a daily creative exercise: take usable photos, choose only one, prepare it for view, give it a title and write something about it that others will enjoy—without taking all day! Much of what I do is commercial art, planned by myself and customers and I don’t get the chance to do much that’s extemporaneous, or find the need to come up with ideas, headlines text and images on the spot as I used to when working in advertising. It helps to keep my design senses sharp for everything I do during the day.

So if you see a daily photo—or sketch—that you particularly like, just ask and we’ll plan something special.

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Read about more of the things I create that are inspired by my cats in the category “Marketplace” on The Creative Cat.

To see more daily photos and sketches go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or “Daily Sketches” or choose from the categories below that to see photos and sketches of black cats or tortie cats.

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 purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Holiday Cards: Nature’s Peaceful Beauty

crabapples on a branch

Little Apples, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Walking in the quiet of a winter day I see some of the most beautiful scenes, from my own back yard, to my neighborhood, town, trails and woods. My joy is to bring not just the scene but the entire milieu back to my studio in an image—a tall order for a photograph or painting, but now and then I manage to capture the essence.

These two sets of four designs based on photography are more “seasonal” than “holiday”, and evoke the two concepts I pursue with my nature photography.

Unexpected Berries

“Unexpected Berries” is a careful study of surprising details others may not notice, the splash of color in the muted landscape of winter that holds my gaze for as long as my tired eyes will enjoy its gift as “nature provides a respite for the weary eye.

Above is “Little Apples”, small wild apples hang like brightly-colored ornaments on wild trees whipped bare from winter winds, decorating the gray branches on an overcast day.

Below is “Icy Berries” decorating one of the trees on Main Street in Carnegie, iced over by a winter storm, their brilliant, rich color preserved.

small red crabapples on icy branches

"Icy Berries", photo © B.E. Kazmarski

And one of my long-time favorites, “Crabapples” decorate bare branches in a cluster of trees growing by railroad tracks; who would think to look here for such beauty?

crabapples on branches

Crabapples, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

From my own backyard is “Unexpected Berries”, found on Christmas morning after a heavy snow, the bright red hulls clinging to my burning bush while the seeds withing long gone to my avian visitors.

red berries in snow

Unexpected Berries, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Outside they advise “nature provides a respite for the weary eye”. Inside the cards reads, “Wishing you color on the coldest day of winter, and an astonishingly beautiful new year.” All cards are 5″ x 7″ and come with a matching envelope, three each of the four designs in a clear-top stationery box. You can find this set in my Etsy shop.

Winter Walks

card design with snowy scene

Homeward Bound, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Of all the inspiring scenes I’ve found on my “Winter Walks”, these are the ones that stayed with me afterward as I remembered one of my favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau: “Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. ~Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author”.

Above is “Homeward Bound”, found after a major ice storm in Settler’s Cabin Park in Collier Township, PA.

Below is “Arching Branches”, a scene along Chartiers Creek near Bridgeville, PA.

branches arching over creek

Arching Branches, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Walking through the local woods after a snow I found a wonderful “Snowy Abstract”.

branches with snow

Snowy Abstract, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

And visiting the Panhandle Trail near Oakdale, PA I found these delicate branches “Encased in Ice”.

icy branches

Encased in Ice, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

And on the inside, “May your spirits be lifted by the beauty of nature this holiday season and in the new year.” You can find this set in my Etsy shop.

See also:
Holiday Cards: Greetings From Our Backyard Birds
Feline-themed Holiday Cards


Holiday Cards: Greetings From Our Backyard Birds

pastel painting of blue jays in tree

Jammin Jay Blues, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

“That would make a great card!”

That’s usually how I decide which of my paintings or photos will end up as a greeting card or note card, following the advice of someone’s suggestion.

When it comes to my birds, many of the paintings and photos are from winter, when the birds are simply easier to see, but also one of my favorite seasons for painting and photography. So this year, I decided to make up two sets of cards for the holidays—and possibly beyond—from the paintings and photos that received the most comments.

Backyard Birds

I truly love winter paintings because the light is wonderful without the shadows from trees, the reflections from the snow illuminating shadowed areas with soft purples and blues, and the patterns made by bare branches are mesmerizing. This set of four paintings of birds are ones I’d done “from life”, actually standing at a window inside or at my back door rather than en plein air, but I wanted to catch that moment of light and color.

Above is “Jammin’ Jay Blues”, my impression of a bunch of noisy blue jays making a racket in the bare branches of the mulberry. In the winter light, their blue feathers have an extra glow that I don’t notice in summer, and between the color and the sound they occasionally fill my backyard with what feels like a celebratory parade, when all they are celebrating is the sliced apples I’ve stuck on twigs in the tree.

Below is “Snowbird”, the common name for a dark-eyed junco, as it clings to along branch of the forsythia in heavy snowfall, apparently living up to its name. They appear in my backyard each year in October and stay until April, and I love their simple little silhouettes, tiny rounded bodies, short beaks and tails, and that white spot on their bellies that looks as if they’d been dipped in white paint before they left the factory.

pastel painting of junco

Snowbird, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

This is “Birds in Snow”, inspired by the sparrows and doves that feed on the ground under the feeder outside my front door. To one side of the feeder is a huge spruce, providing cover and safety for many, many birds, and watching them twittering on the branches, then dropping down for seeds one by one and pecking around in the snow in a big crowd, then suddenly all of them flapping back up into the spruce as if signaled by something only to begin the process again is like watching waves on the beach.

pastel painting of birds in snow

Birds in Snow, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

And here is “Accent”, a single cardinal in the branches and brambles touched with snow at the end of the yard. This is the “safe spot” for birds and small animals as I’ve let the wild grapevines, rapberries and blackberries and Roses of Sharon grow into a dense tangled mass which is excellent protection from predators. A heavy snowfall with layer each branch with white and the play of light and shadow in the mass of branches creates one of nature’s lovely patterns. Where most of my drawing surfaces have some texture, for this one I added marble dust and grit and gave the surface a rough brushed appearance which turned out to be perfect for capturing the feeling of branches and snow.

pastel painting of cardinal in branches

Accent, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Inside, all cards say, “Wishing you warm thoughts and happy memories in this holiday season, and an astonishingly beautiful new year to come.” While I’m offering these for the holidays, they are wonderful all-purpose greeting cards as well and I’ll keep them available through spring in my Etsy shop.

Cardinals Brighten Up a Snowy Day

Of all the birds that visit my backyard, the male American Cardinal is the showiest, and my photos of these have had the most comments—especially, “That would make a great Christmas card!” One of these days I’ll get a few of the girls in the snow—though they aren’t as showy they are still colorful and very dignified, but don’t position themselves in the same way as the guys. So, here we are, a set of cards designed with a little red and green flair that makes it look like a Christmas card as well. Inside they all say, “May your holiday season be merry and bright!”

I think this guy was posing because he sat there for the longest time in the same position. Okay, I get it, I’ll take your picture!

photo of cardinal in forsythia

Cardinal in Forsythia, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

I had wanted a photo that had a significant amount of green along with the red of the cardinal and the snow, and this cardinal obliged.

photo of cardinal in snow

Cardinal in Yew, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Just the cardinal’s red color against an overcast sky and very little else.

photo of cardinal on branch

Cardinal on a Branch, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Five male cardinals were flitting all over the yard during the snowfall. I only managed to catch three in one shot, but it was a favorite.

photo of cardinals in snow bush

Three Cardinals, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Since I added the red and green decorations, these are pretty much limited to the holiday season.

You can find all of these in my Etsy shop.

See also:
Holiday Cards: Nature’s Peaceful Beauty
Feline-themed Holiday Cards


Our Golden Gate, an Entrance to Pittsburgh

Entering Pittsburgh is lovely from any angle, especially at dusk when the buildings, bridges, rivers and sky hold so many colors. From almost any approach to Pittsburgh the city often seems to spring up out of nowhere, like magic, and I wanted to capture a bit of that magical feel in a photo of this entrance to the city, bridge, river and all.

This is the Fort Pitt Bridge catching the sunlight as the buildings are caught in shadow on a summer afternoon. I enhanced all the colors applied several different filters in PhotoShop until I had that magic combination of colors and patterns I desired.

I created this work for an exhibit I had in 2006 entitled 100 West Busway, featuring 125 thumbnail photos of Pittsburgh taken through the bus window on the round-trip journey from Carnegie and back on the 100 West Busway route, running from the south hills into downtown Pittsburgh, through the east end and Oakland and all the colleges and research centers, back into downtown and back to the suburbs.

From the 125 thumbnails I created a dozen works, each in a different medium, all framed with black wood frames and white mats. This is one of those pieces, and is actually one of the originals from the show. I’ll be posting others, both originals and prints in the next month or so.

This 14″ x 10″ luster-finish photo is framed in a 14″ x 18″ narrow-profile matte-finish black frame with a 2″ white mat, ready for hanging, available in my shop on Etsy in my gallery for Pittsburgh Art and Photos


South Side Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is an awesome city to photograph, and after I stopped in the South Side (Sah’Side) yesterday I remembered the day I took this photo, a bright overcast winter afternoon that flattened the depth of field but enhanced the brilliant colors on this block of buildings.

photo of south side pittsburgh

Sah'Side © B.E. Kazmarski

Sah’Side
If you know Pittsburgh, PA, you know that “SahSide” is how we pronounce “South Side” in Pittsburghese, and also that part of town is just as colorful as the photograph!

And if you don’t know Pittsburgh, this photo seems to remind many people of other favorite cities—Amsterdam and New Orleans are usually the first guess. Not surprising because Pittsburgh, especially this older area, was built by immigrants from Europe who brought the familiarity of their hometowns with them. It’s a view of an old-style city street rejuvenated with new coats of paint and lots to offer.

Do you miss Pittsburgh or know someone who does? Sending someone from Pittsburgh off to college soon? A small framed photo is a wonderful way for them to remember one of the details of the city you don’t often see otherwise.

It’s available as a 5″ x 7″ photo in an 8″ x 10″ frame, and as an 8″ x 10″ in an 11″ x 14″ frame. All photos are luster finish and the frames are a matte-finish black frame with a double linen-finish mats, white with black liner. They are easiest to order from my Etsy shop, or you can e-mail me with your request.


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