Somehow I Think I’m Being Watched

three cats looking out door

I Am Being Watched

And indeed I was being carefully scrutinized by these three as I filled my bird feeders on the deck facing the lovely sunny morning. More kitties were farther back, hidden in the shadows, but Jelly Bean, Cookie and Mimi made sure I didn’t slip away as I took some time to photograph the frosty morning.

Cookie’s Hideaway

cat in laundry basket under table

A startled Cookie in the laundry basket.

Cookie had me scampering around in a panic the other day when I just couldn’t find her anywhere. She wasn’t in any of her usual places and I’ve got extra boxes around here with merchandise and materials so things are kind of out of order, and then I tossed things out of the way to find her. Plus, she’s a little deaf, though we act as if she’s not, and I can call all I want and she really can’t hear me.

Then I remembered a place she used to like to sleep—in the laundry basket in the bathroom! It’s been years, but I pulled it out and indeed it felt much heavier than a small pile of laundry should be and a startled Cookie sat up and shook herself. Whew!

cat in basket

Cookie in the basket several years ago.

But how did she get herself in there? Cookie’s not as nimble as she used to be and I watched her step-by-step process for getting out of there while it was under the table. When she wants to curl up in a comfy quiet spot she doesn’t let her short legs get in her way! Here she is several years ago when the basket edge hadn’t been chewed little by little by a happy Kelly thinking of her nightly snack.

Stolen Moments

photo of two cats

Stolen Moments

I didn’t give my camera enough time to focus before I hit the shutter, but maybe that’s not so bad, I think the blurred contrasty effect is kind of neat.

Mimi says, “You may be all grown up and more than twice as big as me, but I’m still your mom and you need some cleaning around the ears!” Big Giuseppe gently complies.

Give a Gift Certificate for a Custom Commissioned Portrait

sample certificate

Sample Portrait Gift Certificate

A custom commissioned portrait is a really unique gift, but sometimes you can’t get the photos or you’d rather let the recipient design the portrait they want. I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination, but usually suggest $125.00 because it is the basic cost of a portrait, one subject in an area of about 10″ x 12″ depending on the subject matter. (The recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.)

carol and smudge

Carol and Smudge

And even though I specialize in animals, I also paint people, and several times have painted portraits of people and their pets. I only have a few samples because some customers have requested privacy when the subjects were children and others haven’t given permission to be on the internet.

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.

portrait of cat

Christie on her warm towel.

Prices are quoted per job, and include only the drawing (no mat or framing; this is extra, see below). Portraits start at $125.00 per subject for a color 8″ x 10″; prices increase according to size and complexity of work. Adding a background, extra objects (toys, etc.) and additional subjects are extra according to their complexity. I reserve the right to limit the content according to the finished size so that the subjects don’t become so small that details are impossible. And remember, I can only do so much with some photographs!

Framing is charged as a separate item, and we can discuss the framing when you contract for your portrait.

portrait of two dogs

Sophie and Ellie, being good.

Animal artwork is not limited to pictures of your own pets, but may include pictures of any sort—wildlife images, for instance. In addition to portraits of your pets, I also offer portraits of your people, your house, or any other item of which you may want a portrait. I can always hold on to a portrait until a holiday, birthday or other event arrives, and I can keep a secret if the portrait is a gift.

Your purchase of a certificate supports many shelters and animal welfare organizations because I also donate at least a half dozen certificates to benefit auctions every year where all proceeds of the sale go directly to the organization; your purchase helps me cover the costs of creating original art for the winners of these certificates. I’m always pleased to see they auction for more than their face value—in this way, I can “give” more to the organizations than I ever could in cash.

You can read more about custom commissioned portraits on this site by clicking the tab at the top for Commissioned Pet Portraits and from there follow the links to my website, or visit Portrait Demonstration on my website to see how I put a portrait together.

To go directly to the Gift Certificate on my website, click here, or go to my Portraits of Animals shop on Etsy.

Oh Very Young…

black cat looking up

Mewsette asks for more.

“Mmmm, that smells good! Can I have some?”

“No, Mewsette, this food is for the senior girls.”

“I’m a girl. Can’t I have some?”

“Indeed you are a girl, but you’re a young girl, not anywhere near being a senior girl.”

“Why does that mean I can’t eat when they do? Why do they get to eat all the time when we can only eat twice a day?”

“They are older and can’t eat as much at one sitting, so I feed them in between.”

“You’ve got to be kidding—I’ve seen Cookie pack it in and lick her dish!”

“I don’t give her as much as I give you.”

“That’s not fair. I want to be old so I can eat all day.”

“Someday, Mousse, you will be old, but it’s going to be a long time before you get there.”

“How long do I have to wait to be old?”

“Well, you’re just past three years old so you’re barely an adult kitty and you’ve got a long way to go.”

“How old is Kelly?”

“She is sixteen.”

“How old is Cookie?”

“She is eighteen.”

“How old was Peaches?”

“She was twenty.”

“Peaches always let me take a few bites of her food.”

“I know. Peaches was a nice kitty.”

“She was. I miss her. She was a nice pillow too.”

“You all took good care of her.”

“So how long till I’m old?”

“Never, if I have anything to say about it.”

“That’s not fair! Why?”

“Because after you get old, then you go away like Peaches did.”


“I want you around for a long, long time, Mewsette.”

“I might be around longer if you fed me more.”

“Oh, Mewsette! Well, at least I kept you occupied long enough for the girls to finish their lunch.”


two cats in a box


It looks like a two-pack to me, but I think the containers were a little larger than the package suggested.

But they do have a nice chocolate cast to their fur and are as sweet as chocolate pudding.

If you ever want at least a few of your cats to get their paws out of what you’re doing, just get a box and set it on a table somewhere!

Really, I can’t close off my kitchen and while I’m as careful as possible I’m always afraid of a kitchen accident, especially when they want to see what I’m doing or decide to sit right behind me when I’m standing at the stove or sink. One solution I’ve always had is a tall stool at the end of the sink counter where they can watch me at the sink without getting into the sink with the food or the dishes, and I allow them on a counter where I never work from which they can see the stove.

And if all else fails, I have various boxes at hand that I can put on the table and all of them take turns sharing, including the senior girls.


Welcome Kitty

cat sculpture

Greeting Cat.

This is the kitty who greets you at my front door.

I have a number of feline sculptures and outdoor items, some of which I’ve made, some gifts and some beckoned to me from yard sales and vintage shops.

This one came to me with Peaches and Cream; the person who brought me them also brought me several small feline-themed items as well. This was handmade by someone, cast in a lightweight concrete mix so it bears that grainy texture all over except on the eyes.

It’s not a 3-D sculpture, just a relief, and I have him posted just above the bottom crossbar of my homemade dark brown wooden shutter where he can peek over, around or through whatever vase of flowers I have on the table by the door.

Right now this is the dried flowers of the many-flowered aster, my favorite autumn aster, I rescued from a parking lot before it was sprayed with chemicals.

The leaves have fallen and the golden autumn sunlight angles onto my front porch, bathing the cat and the flowers in amber warmth for just a short while, and all else is in deep shadow.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

cat eating a cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie does enjoy her namesake food, as she shows here with a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven.

I forget these things about her—who would think a cat would like cookies?! Turn my back on her and she’s tasting each one to choose the one she’s going to swipe.

Cookie chose her name from a list of babble from me. When  my neighbor brought her to me I called her “Chocolate” because a tortie at that age really looks mostly brown, and she did have a sweet personality. Because she was small, I called her “Chocolate Chip”.

And what is the next likely iteration of that? One evening while calling her out from under the bed so that I could put her in the spare cat room for the night, I called, “Chocolate! Chocolate Chip! Chocolate Chip Cookie! Cookie! Cookie! come here!”

She immediately came out from under the bed with a very surprised look on her face. “How did you know my name?” It has stayed with her for 18 years, though she has plenty of other names too.

And just for the record, “Cookie” is her everyday name. Her show name is “Semi-sweet Butterscotch Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough”. You know how it is with these royal names.

Studio Cats

black cat on drawing table

Giuseppe is ready to start painting.

Giuseppe says he’s ready to start painting.

Just about everyone comes with me when I go upstairs to paint or downstairs to do laundry. The laundry is fine, but, much as I love them all, I really don’t want them walking around on my stuff in my studio, whether I’m on my table or at my easel. This is a challenge, especially for the big four who have to investigate everything I touch, and for Cookie and Kelly, who have always enjoyed being near me while I worked.

black cat bathing

Mr. Sunshine takes me seriously.

The secret is to get everything ready and sit down with another project, either reading or crochet, and let them all mill about and do their thing.  After ten or fifteen minutes they’ve learned as much as they want and gone off to settle down for a nap after working extremely hard. In today’s case, everyone was upstairs, at least four of them sleeping on a bed on the floor in my studio and at one point all of them were in there. It’s an 8 x 10 room; things were a little crowded.

In the end, I said we needed to clean up, and Mr. Sunshine interpreted that as any self-respecting kitty would do.

The New Portrait, Second View

proof of portrait

Second proof of the new portrait

Among other things I’ve been working on the new portrait, and here is the latest update. Today I had the opportunity to work on it during the afternoon (with much feline assistance and supervision) and still had daylight to photograph when I’d finished my session.

I’ve been working more on color issues than finish work, determining the final set of tones for a unified overall composition. Some color combinations you can get away with in a photo but they don’t work well in a painting because the painting image is enlarged and I think our eyes are willing to overlook certain things in photographs understanding that we don’t always have as much control as we’d like. I also don’t mind changing the colors in a portrait from the actual to ones that suit the subject better.

The blue blanket is nearly one-third the height of the portrait and carries a good bit of the color in the painting. It’s a lovely rich shade of blue but looked jarring with the more pastel shades of teal and peach in the rest of the painting as I had continued to work. I put it up on the easel and looked at it for a few days and didn’t get accustomed to the combination and still felt it looked out of place, and so decided to change the blue to a muted teal.  It’s partway through that transformation in this version.

detail of portrait

Detail of upper left.

Once I’d decided on that, I’ve done more toward completing the background than the subject, and this is typical at this point. Technically, pastel is just plain dusty and the areas that are completed first tend to get dusted over with later colors. I do brush this off, but Peaches the kitty and her flower will decidedly have more detail than the rest of the painting and as much as I want to get to her fur and the flower petals I’d rather dust errant peach and pink and gray pastel off the background than dust teal and green from her.

There is a pile of books on the table, another flower in a vase and some other things behind the curtain in the left corner, but aside from pulling out some interesting details like the corners of the books I’d rather leave these with less detail. There needs to be some restful areas in a portrait like this, even if they have shape like the blanket, so that your eye comes first to the subject. I may add a little more to this corner, and I’ll probably bring the green more toward the teal but not match it exactly to give the portrait some depth.

detail of portrait

Detail of window view.

Outside the window was another area I worked out today. I’d been debating about the deck railing and the trees. I had already decided I’d keep the deck railing because it also added depth to the scene; when I sketched up a version without it the scene looked more flat. I also wasn’t sure I wanted the pattern of the trees right behind Peaches and her flower and originally sketched it in as shades of blue and white as sky and clouds. But I loved the way the tracery of the branches and trunks appeared and it reinforces that this is indeed a window not just a light-colored area so I kept them muted so not to interfere with the main subject.

I don’t make changes lightly, though, since the scene is often one so familiar to the people who commission me. Something that may seem trifling or indistinct to me may be part of a treasured memory. I’ll meet in the middle.

Next time I’ll probably get that blanket under control and finish off the background, and finally I’ll be able to work on Peaches!

Read all the articles about this portrait:

A New Portrait

The New Portrait, Second View

The New Portrait Final

Visit Commissioned Pet Portraits on this blog, and also visit my website to see a gallery of My Cats, Commissioned Cats, Commissioned Dogs and A Portrait Demonstration.