Daily Sketch: Boys on Purple

two black cats on purple

Boys on Purple, colored pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

So much color on sunny days! Giuseppe and Jelly Bean cuddle on the old purple shawl I keep in a cozy corner of the bathroom for Kelly when she spends her time in there. The boys discovered it this morning and could barely fit on it since it’s folded several times to be nice and thick and to fit her.

With the extra sunlight the purple was vibrant, not so much here but eye-catching nonetheless, as well as Bean’s big citron eyes in his dark face. Poor Bean, I had to keep tapping my pencil on the bathroom door and calling his name to make him look up at me so I could get the details in his face! I can fill them in from memory, but it was an odd angle and I wanted to be sure it was right.

Totally realistic color today, no fanciful green and orange and blue cats! I just loved the way they looked on the purple shawl, such a simple composition, but so graceful and lovely.

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Click here to see other daily sketches.

For a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

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.


Guardians of the Stairway

two black cats on steps

Mewsette and Mimi ask if I'd like to pass through to the upstairs.

Do you think they’ll let me through?

It’s not too often there’s enough sunlight in the stairway to the second floor to photograph black cats, but the sun was bright today and the trees are still bare so the sunlight poured into the window, lighting and warming the narrow space. And, of course, wherever sun is plentiful, so are cats.

When I stepped on the bottom landing to go upstairs, I was confronted with the guardians of the stairway. They would not let me pass until I spent some time playing with them. I knew they were hoping I’d toss at least one bizzy ball up the steps for them, our favorite game, which I did, bringing forth the boys to participate. Soon I had all five cats running up and down the stairs after a series of bizzy balls, then ping pong balls, crackle balls, then a variety of any small toys that were handy. One of these days when I figure out where to set the tripod I’ll video this big game.

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To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

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.


Closing the Shop, but Expanding Online

photo of gift shop

View of about half my shop, art, greeting cards and even a few crocheted things.

After two years in my room in Carnegie Antiques, I’ll be moving out, fitting everything somewhere in this little house and expanding what I’ve always offered online.

It’s always been difficult to be two places at once, and in addition to keeping merchandise in the shop and being there one afternoon a week, I am also here at my home to make and package and prepare the things, play with my kitties and keep up with The Creative Cat—in addition to being self-employed as a freelance commercial artist!

sign with balloons and flowers

The sign that features Cookie.

I love sharing my art and merchandise for my online community through my Marketplace blog, in my online Marketplace on my website and in my Etsy shop, but I really love being out in the public with my things, talking to people at festivals and events, talking about my work, collecting stories, seeing what other artists are doing, getting direct feedback and personally thanking the people who decided to buy something from me.

Though I wasn’t selling antiques or even vintage items, my room was in Carnegie Antiques Carnegie, just a few blocks from where I live. The owner, the generous and multi-talented Judi Stadler, is a friend of mine, and through her set of businesses, including both Carnegie Antiques and J.D. Llama Estate Sales and Appraisals, is one of my customers for design and promotion. I actually designed her website and photographed all the items on it, and I visited regularly for gift items and especially that special vintage necklace or earrings to match one of my outfits. And while I spent my weekly shift in the shop I loved wandering among the vintage items and learning about them.

judi with cookie

Cookie greets Aunt Judi.

Judi’s business at the shop has increased and she has been expanding and she can certainly use the space. We discussed reorganizing, and I had begun to prepare for that in February. But after considering and deciding that since my things weren’t moving as well in the past year, and weren’t really in keeping with the rest of what she offered, along with the occasional difficulty of my being there and not home working, I would move my things home.

I will miss, especially, the memory of Cookie as my shop cat who thoroughly enjoyed acting as Queen and greeter of all visitors, but mostly she just wanted to be with me. Through the years I’ve often seen that woebegone “Don’t go,” expression on my cats when I’ve put my hand on the doorknob, but when I looked at Cookie it was, “Take me with you.” And so I did, despite the fact that she was 17 years old and had some difficulty walking, and I had to be careful with her fluid intake even then.

tortie cat in front window

"I'm so pretty, I'll bet all sorts of customers will come in today just to see me."

She really only had the chance to accompany me about a dozen times in those two years since it was too cold in the winter to take her out, and I often had errands before and after my hours at the shop. But she really loved every minute of the special time we spent together there, just the two of us, doing something I enjoyed, and she enjoyed with me because she was my friend. She will always be with me in this venture, wherever it goes.

So all my greeting cards, note cards and writing paper, small and medium framed and unframed prints of my artwork and photographs, block prints, block-printed t-shirts and other textiles, tote bags and gift bags and anything else I find the time and space to create are now here, and all the cats are having a great time climbing all over all the boxes. There’s actually quite a bit of merchandise that I haven’t posted in my Etsy shop or on my website that you’ll soon be seeing in posts on The Creative Cat and Portraits of Animals Marketplace, and much of it will be available right here on The Creative Cat as I complete my redesign.

I my “other life” when I’m not blogging about cats and posting daily photos and creating artwork I’m a “visual designer” creating print and web products and layouts; this is pretty much what I’ve done all day long for almost 30 years; you can read more about this on my website in Graphic Design and Illustration. My dream has always been to slip farther away from graphic design and open a real bricks and mortar gallery named “Portraits of Animals” featuring my artwork inspired by animals and nature and also featuring and showing the art of others inspired by animals, and by focusing more of my efforts on the internet for now I hope to be able to do that in a few years.

You can always visit my Marketplace blog, my online Marketplace and my shop on Etsy. While Stanley has always been the symbol of Portraits of Animals because his portrait inspired it, Cookie was the feline who watched over my shop. Cookie says, “Visit, or else!”

photo of shop sign

Cookie says, "Visit, or else!"

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way 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.

 


Book Review and Giveaway: Cat Truths and Dog Confessions

black cat looking at books

Jelly Bean and I had our work cut out for us.

So which one would you rather be, a cat or a dog?

You’d think we’d rather be the cats we are, but Jelly Bean was very curious about these dog things. We found that indeed we would rather be cats because we are already superior, but that some things dogs do sound pretty fun and…a cat might use an electric toothbrush to clean his tongue.

Author Allia Zobel Nolan has done it again—twice—with a pair of brand new gift books in her usual quick and witty style and colorful, whimsical design: Dog Confessions: Shocking Tales Straight from the Doghouse and I’d Rather Be a Cat: the Official “Better Than Dogs” Cat Book.

images of books

Two new gift books by author Allia Zobel Nolan.

Both pocket-sized books—easily carried for quick reference in discussions of dog and cat habits and virtues—feature delightfully detailed photos of cats and kittens and dogs and puppies in action, often in close-up so you can see the sincerity in their eyes, so we know these words came directly from them to Allia.

sample pages from books

Samples page from 'I'd Rather Be a Cat', from author's website.

And for the pure visual enjoyment of we human readers, each two-page spread is in a rich and bold color scheme to complement the animal depicted, so that turning each page leads to another to pause and enjoy the view as well as what the cats and dogs have to say. As a designer and artist I reveled in the design and visual pleasure of these two books as much as what the cats and dogs had to say.

black cat turning pages in book

Jelly Bean is paws-free while easily turning pages with his nose.

Jelly Bean found the pages very easy to flip through using only his nose, very convenient for our animal friends who don’t have thumbs. If more books were this size, other animals would be able to read much easier.

And while JB might have seemed more interested in looking at the cats and dogs and reading their statements, he is an art cat and paused for extra study on certain pages. He especially liked the clear faces on all the animals as he could read their feelings much easier (though I noticed he paused longer on the pages that included food).

All in all, he found both the size and design to be very pleasing for a cat of his abilities and sensibilities.

image of book dog confessions

Dog Confessions: Shocking Tales Straight from the Doghouse, from author's website.

First, the dogs

Following the similarly-designed and eye-catching Cat Confessions: A Kitty Come Clean Tell All Book, Allia was asked to diligently research and write a similar book about dogs. What was a dyed-in-the-fur cat person to do? After all the “tweets, texts, e-mails and snail mail” from dogs all over the world “begging (which they do so well) me to let them to shake off the guilt of their secret indiscretions”, Allia agreed to let them confess and go on to live new lives as “good dogs”!

Happy to finally confess their sins in public, the 30 dogs in Dog Confessions freely tell of intentional misbehaviors such as knowingly eating things they should not have, trading money for treats and using mommy’s lipstick. But they also confess to sins of vanity, such as Harley Boy who gets a regular mani-pedi to keep in touch with his feminine side, and of Maurice the French spaniel who bleaches his moustache.

But they also confess to not indulging in things we all thought were typical dog behavior! “I’ve never told a soul this, but I don’t chase my tail.” Can you believe that? “I really hate begging…it’s so bourgeois.” No, it’s not entirely what you think, and you might actually find a few confessions that are, well, “cat-like”!

cover of i'd rather be a cat

I’d Rather Be a Cat: the Official “Better Than Dogs” Cat Book, from author's website.

Now for the cats

In Cat Confessions we discovered that even the things cats unapologetically confess to are clever and show superior intelligence and ability. I’d Rather Be a Cat confirms that cats are still unapologetic about anything they choose to do and they really are the quieter, more introspective species and much “purrrr-furrrrrr” it that way.

It’s true that “…when something’s considered unattractive, what do humans call it? You got it—a ‘dog.’ ” Yes, feline abilities are often used as analogies for speed, agility, cunning and dignity while dogs, well, you don’t see many new car models or national sports teams named after dogs. One could argue that the cats in question are usually big cats, not domestic felines, but a cat is a cat, and that’s that, right?

And anyone knows that, “Dogs are known for their annoying trait—barking. Cats are recognized for the sweetest sound on earth—purring.” Really, I’ve never heard that barking can help heal anything, but purring, cats have been proved to purr at a frequency that actually facilitates healing.

Some of the things cats have to say are truly profound as well. “Cats are intuitive thinkers. We weigh our options before we pounce, if, in fact, we pounce at all.”

The consensus: cat or dog?

cat reading book

Perhaps the dog would share if he lived with Jelly Bean?

While we confirmed what we knew, that cats and dogs are clearly different, we also found endearing similarities such as an attraction to human food, and a propensity for simply being endearingly manipulative. And while Jelly Bean agreed with the feline sentiments, he found the dogs very interesting since he’s never met one in the fur and paid close attention to what they had to say, especially the pages where food was mentioned.

About Allia and where to find the books

Allia Zobel Nolan is an internationally-published, award-winning author of over 170 children’s and adult trade titles with close to three million books in print and a long career in publishing as well as a fellow member of the Cat Writers’ Association. For more information about Allia, visit her website or her blog. These books and others by Allia are available in print at bookstores and also on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and directly from the publisher.

Jelly Bean would also like you to know that he is, indeed, a child star in one of Allia’s books, the afore-mentioned Cat Confessions. Read about that in an earlier book review.

black cat with book

The choice is surprisingly difficult.

So what is your vote?

I have a copy of each of these books, only reviewed by myself and Jelly Bean as you see in the photos, that I’d love to give away to one of my readers. Please comment on this post with your vote, “cat” or “dog”, to be entered in the drawing, and feel free to vote for both books! You have from today, March 10 to next Saturday, March 17, to cast your vote.

I’ll write your name on a scrap of paper, toss them all in the air and let them land, and whichever one Jelly Bean sits on is the winner. No, probably I’ll be a little more scientific than that, but the drawing will no doubt involve little scraps of paper and Jelly Bean and even a few other members of my feline household.

I was provided review copies of these two books by the publisher and know the author personally, though Jelly Bean has never met her.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way 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.