Daily Sketch: Mimi’s Sunbath

ink and watercolor sketch of a cat

Mimi's Sunbath, ink and watercolor pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Mimi enjoys the warmth of the sun on her one side, and the reflection of it from the cabinet on her other.

I really liked this as an ink sketch and almost left it with just Mimi, but when I had looked at Mimi in this very spot I envisioned an ink drawing with watercolor washes. I began the sketch on watercolor paper, and so I finished it. I like it just as much.

This has both deep shadows and bright highlights, and both direct and reflected light, a challenge for me in ink, for sure! But while Mimi did move her head to face front, look up at me and look behind herself, she sat for long enough for me to get the light and shadow on her torso sketched in with pen, then a bit of watercolor pencil scribbled on top.

When I begin with a new medium I often visualize in it for days as I grow accustomed to it, so I’m not surprised to have two sketches in a row in the same medium and style, after yesterday’s Kelly on the Windowsill. I am growing accustomed to these watercolor pencils, though I think I’m going to allow myself a wider brush than the No. 4 round to see how it dissolves and spreads the paint from my sketchy pencil lines.

I absolutely love drawing in ink, though I’m constantly disappointed in the pens I can get now, the marker style. They are so easy to use, but I seem to wear the tip dry and need to give it a break every minute or so, and I don’t like to stop in the middle of a sketch to wait for the pen to resaturate. I solved it here by having several pens on hand in the same sizes. I have various fountain-style technical pens but I don’t leave ink in them and I don’t think Mimi would sit still while I run upstairs and fill one or two. I also have dip-style pen nibs and bottles of ink, but that has its challenges outside of my studio. I’m going to find one of the fountain-style drawing pens I had looked into years ago, though the drawback of those is that sometimes the ink doesn’t dry quickly enough to watercolor on top of right away, as I do here.

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Click here to see other daily sketches, and for a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

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.


You Can’t See Me

cat behind wrinkle in rug

You can't see me behind this wrinkle.

“I have fixed the rug in exactly the way I want it.

“You can’t see me at all behind this wrinkle I have so cleverly built out of the rug.

“Also notice that I am squinting. You can’t see cats when they are squinting at you like this. Or when they have their paws over their faces. Or when they have their head in a bag or under the couch, even if their fuzzy butts are hanging out in plain view. You may think you see us, but it’s just your imagination.

“And furthermore, don’t even consider changing this rug from the way I have it set up. When I choose to leave it, I will expect to find it exactly like this when I return.”

Guess he told me.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

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.


Pussy Willow, a Vintage Photo

photo of cat sitting by pussy willow in angled sun

Pussy Willow, photograph © B.E. Kazmarski

It’s time for another vintage photo of my household. I have this photo hanging in my kitchen and though I see it every day, there are days when it fully captures my attention. I study it, and each time I see more in it. And so I did today.

It’s from the time when I first began to consider my photos “good”, perhaps to consider them “photographs” that I might display and sell as prints and framed items, instead of just “pictures”. This was, maybe, ten years ago. “Pussy Willow” was taken earlier than that but stayed on my mind. It was one of the first that made me take another look at my other photos.

What I like most is the abstraction, the light and shadow playing on the objects and the walls, both the pussy willow and the cat turning from positive objects to negative space as the sun and shadow move across them.

I would not have taken the photo without Namir, though. I do like the pussy willow on its own and always have it somewhere around the house where I can enjoy its stark figures. When he got bored with me and walked way I took a photo of just the pussy willow, and it’s nice, but not something I’d frame and hang on the wall.

I always associated Namir with pussy willow too, something about the texture of his fur, and his white oval paws reminding me of the catkins. I turned around, there he sat, that lovely warm spring sunshine washing over the scene, it was as if it was waiting for me to photograph with the old fully manual film-based Pentax K1000.

It was also taken on a day very much like today, a sunny late afternoon in late April. I have a version of it that I desaturated in PhotoShop and I like the semi-sepia look, but it doesn’t capture that original inspiration, the warm April sunshine literally pouring in the window, coating everything it touched with gold.

You may have photos like this as well, this is partly why I explained all my reasoning.

I’ll have this for sale in my Etsy shop soon, but it’s not a standard frame size so I have to be certain the molding I choose for the frame is regularly available from my supplier.

This article tells a little more about Namir and how he came into my life “Who Was That Namir, Anyway?”, and about his life in my household, “Not a Bad Deal on a Pre-Owned Cat”.

You’ll find Namir mentioned in plenty of articles on The Creative Cat, and don’t forget to look at the header image, which features him in another of his contemplative moments in the sun.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

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.


Homeless Cat Management Team Clinic May 20

stray black cat

Stray black cat.

A no-charge clinic date for stray and feral cats in managed colonies is right around the corner on May 20, 2012, sponsored by the  Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT. If you are a colony manager, get your traps ready and make your appointment. If you’re not yet registered as a colony manager, call now to register.

Register as a colony caretaker, then register for the clinic.

First, you need to register as a colony caretaker in order to be able to have cats spayed and neutered by HCMT. Call 412-321-4060 and leave a message; someone will return your call and complete your registration as a caretaker.

Second, you need to pre-register for the clinic you want to attend, and you will receive a confirming phone call to be included in the clinic. Cats MUST arrive in a standard humane box trap (Havahart, Safe-guard, Tomahawk, Tru-Catch, etc.) for the safety of all involved, with the exception of rescue cats.

All clinics are held at the Animal Rescue League of Western PA, 6620 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.

As part of the clinic feral cats will receive:

  • spay/neuter
  • rabies vaccination
  • penicillin shot
  • analgesic
  • treatment for fleas, ticks and ear mites
  • mandatory ear-tipping

homeless cat management team logoAbout the clinics

Homeless Cat offers both no-charge and Fast Track clinics where feral cats receive all the above care and a mandatory ear-tipping, the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been “trapped-neutered-released”. The no-charge clinic is just that—neuter, vaccinations and care at no charge for feral cats. They advise that the no-charge clinics fill up quickly, so they also offer the Fast Track clinic which offers the same service for $45 if the cat in question can’t wait.

Rescue cats

HCMT clinics are generally reserved for cats who are part of a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program and who will be returned to their colony, not taken into a home as a pet or entered into a shelter, rescue or other animal adoption program. This helps the organization and individuals spay and neuter as many homeless outdoor cats at the least cost possible for the person managing the cats, reducing future populations with each surgery.

However, they’ve recently begun to offer services to “rescue” cats on FastTrack clinic days, because it’s sometimes not possible to put a cat back outside because of health or circumstances. Also, the person who rescued the cat has often been feeding and caring for it for some time, a bond grows between them and instead of putting the cat back outside, the rescuer will take them in, an even better solution for the cat, and also the person.

FasTrack clinics are usually $45 per cat, but for rescues the pricing is a little different:

  • $60 for females
  • $35 for males
  • Rabies shots are an additional $8

Also, rescue cats do not have to be in humane traps, which is a requirement of strays and ferals, they can come in carriers.

City of Pittsburgh Spay and Neuter Program

At the end of February Pittsburgh’s City Council approved a program sponsored by Council President Darlene Harris that will provide a voucher for up to five pets per household to City of Pittsburgh residents. The bill allocates $170,000 toward the program, yet the city spends much more than that in combined animal control costs. Council decided that spaying and neutering pets of city residents will result in reduced costs immediately and into the future. Read more about it here, and if you are a City of Pittsburgh resident you can also download a form here: City of Pittsburgh’s free spay and neuter program.

The Homeless Cat Management Team is participating in this but is not yet on the form. Simply write them in when you choose your “preference” of where to get surgery performed, on the application.

Upcoming clinic dates

  • 5/20  no charge
  • 6/10  Fast Track

Keep those dates in mind, and read below about how HCMT works.

About HCMT

If you are near Pittsburgh and manage a colony of stray and feral cats or are feeding stray or feral cats anywhere outdoors, you need to know about the Homeless Cat Management Team and how they can help you care for your colony, especially with their spay and neuter clinics.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh, read on and see if there may be an organization that can help you do the same for strays and ferals near you. I’ve also included links to information about caring for strays and ferals in winter and how you can help stray and feral cats in general.

This is especially important now, as later summer and autumn kittens will begin going into their first heat as soon as the lengthening days turn their little biological clocks to “on” along with their mothers. Cats can go into heat as young as four months and can reproduce with parents and siblings.

HCMT is working toward a new permanent clinic

A permanent clinic would allow HCMT to spay and neuter 7,000 cats every year which will save the lives of tens of thousands of cats in the Pittsburgh area. Donations can be sent to HCMT, P.O. Box 100203, Pittsburgh, PA 15233-0203 or through JustGive at the HCMT website www.homelesscat.org. If you donate, include a note on the memo line about “permanent clinic” or “capital campaign”.

You can also help HCMT both generally with day to day fundraising and with outreach and fundraising for the new clinic with your volunteer efforts such as public relations, coordinating pro-bono services for printing and media, outreach, grant writing and even researching potential salary and benefit packages for clinic employees. Check Our Future on the HCMT website.

Visit their website to read more about the permanent clinic.

gray and white cat nursing two gray kittens outdoors

A Stray Cat with Her Kittens

The issue of feline overpopulation

Cats left in colonies will produce as many kittens as their bodies will allow if left unaltered, leading to disease and suffering and way too many kittens who then go on to produce more kittens.

It’s not likely, but a cat can have up to five litters in a year, bearing 6 or more kittens per litter over the course of as many as ten years, which adds up to about 300 kittens from one female cat in the course of her lifetime, not to mention the kittens her kittens produce.

More realistically, say she only has three litters of four kittens per year as Mimi did, that’s still a dozen new kittens, and even with an average 50% survival rate, that’s 60 kittens born over five years. Now add in all the kittens that those surviving kittens produce in addition to their mother, and it’s just out of control.

Ever-expanding colonies are also often the targets of abuse and “extermination”. Shelters are already full of cats who need homes, so rescue is unlikely.

The Homeless Cat Management Team offers the “Trap-Neuter-Return”, or TNR, service for feral cats which is an internationally-recognized method of helping to solve these problems by stopping the cycle of kittens and overpopulation. They just can’t produce any more kittens—and they don’t engage in the most annoying feline behaviors, such as spraying, calling for mates, caterwauling and fighting, noisy and odorous activities that often turn people against cats and colonies of strays and ferals.

tabby cat living at abandoned house

Tabby Cat Living at Abandoned House

This service is not available for household pets or even cats simply kept outdoors if they are owned by a person. This is intended to reduce stray and feral populations in colonies, cats who aren’t owned by anyone, so before registering for the clinic you must first register as a colony caretaker. For more details on the process of registering yourself as a colony caretaker and registering for a clinic, please visit the Homeless Cat Management Team’s website at www.homelesscat.org. You can also find other clinic dates and information on how you can help feral cats in many other ways.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh and you’d like to find out if there is a TNR organization near you, visit the Feral Cat Organizations listing on the Humane Society of the United States’ website. You can also find information on the Alley Cat Allies’ website under Make Connections. You can find yet more resources on the ASPCA website under TNR and Colony Management.

You don’t need to manage a colony top help feral cats. You can donate to, assist or even start a local TNR program in your area. The HSUS’s article What You Can Do to Help Feral Cats covers finding local organizations, listing options and how to pursue helping or starting a local organization, and they also have a Program Fund that you can donate to in order to assist them in helping local organizations form and operate.

Alley Cat Allies is all about assisting colony managers, and you can also donate to this organization in order to help the larger effort of local organizations.

And Alley Cat Allies has what I think is the most comprehensive information on just what feral cats are and how to care for them, including several articles on winter care, outdoor shelters, feeding and providing water in winter and avoiding hazards from chemicals like road salt and anti-freeze.

In addition to the articles, they also have a Video Library that demonstrates how to trap ferals, how to care for them, the clinic procedures and even how to speak to the public about feral cats.

You’ll also find information on other topics, such as feeding strays and ferals, letting your cat mix with strays and ferals and legislation around the country and in Canada regarding their treatment.

Here are the quick links to the sites above:

Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Rescue
HSUS Feral Cat downloadable handbook 

It’s difficult for we who love cats not to think of each of them as potential companions for us, but true feral cats were never pet cats and while they can be tamed they are a few generations removed from human contact and they’ve adapted to life without the assistance of humans. The TNR program stops the cycle of reproduction and provides them with vaccinations and care that help to protect the larger society of all cats, but the intent is not to provide them with ongoing veterinary care as we do our indoor cats, or to find them permanent homes.

That’s not to say that feral cats can’t come in. I’ve seen some feral cats who’ve been brought in to shelters for various reasons, usually because a colony was threatened by abuse or extermination, and I even rescued a single cat from a feral colony years ago, my little Moses who was near death from starvation, literally laying down and not moving she was so far gone. She was young and learned to live in the house, and she and I enjoyed nineteen years of a close and loving relationship, but I could never pick her up, she was terrified of other people though she was timid and never acted out.

A friend adopted a rescued feral from a shelter where she volunteered, and MacKenzie mingles with the other cats but has her rules, especially the one about not being put in a carrier or she’ll offer to slice open your hand, and other clever cat tricks.

Find a low-cost clinic near you

Spaying and neutering surgery can be done for as little as $25.00. 

LOW COST SPAY/NEUTER INFORMATION FOR THE PITTSBURGH AREA AND BEYOND.

Also look in the menu on this blog under “Assistance” for links to local shelters and spay/neuter clinics plus a searchable database to find the clinic nearest you anywhere in the United States and parts of Canada.

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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.



Daily Sketch: Kelly on the Windowsill

ink and watercolor of cat on windowsill

Kelly on the Windowsill, ink and watercolor © B.E. Kazmarski

Kelly enjoys the sun on her back on the bathroom windowsill, and also likely the reflected heat from the deck roof, just below. It’s not all that warm, but just warm enough to have the windows open in mid-afternoon. The pussy willow is right outside the window and the dappled leaves were charming, and the blue sky beyond.

Another combination of media that I enjoy, ink and watercolor. In this case I did the ink sketch first, then scribbled into it with watercolor pencil. The watercolor pencil is a two-part technique, first the drawing, then the watering. In this case I knew I’d want to leave some of my sketching lines and in other cases I wanted to obliterate them.

In other cases, such as the sky and the wall beneath her, I wanted both and I was very pleased with what happened when I just brushed a water-filled brush over my lines. I could achieve a multitude of techniques this way, with just random washes in the sky where I used the brush on its side, but patterned washes in the shadow on the wall where I used the tip of the brush (that’s a white sable no. 4 round, students, you know who you are) in straight parallel lines running through the angled watercolor pencil lines in green and blue.

This is the first time I’ve used this new set of watercolor pencils, Prismacolor 12-color set water-soluble colored pencils. The Derwent set had an excellent reputation, but I found them to be kind of weak in color, especially the darks, once I got the washes on it. I had also used them for a huge illustration for a sign I just finished and had to go over and over areas in order to get them as dark as I wanted, which took away from the feeling of freehand sketching.

In the Prismacolor set, the colors dissolved and blended easily though I’m not sure why the dark green in the leaves did not; it did where I used it in Kelly’s shadows. I had wanted to brush the two greens together to look more random and leafy.

I should have done some color test swatches with the pencils before I began to be sure what shades they would end up. The sky and the shadow on the windowsill behind Kelly are two different shades of blue, but they certainly don’t look like it and kind of blend together.

But so far, I like this set much better than the other two.

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Click here to see other daily sketches, and for a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

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.


Preparing the Studio

cat drinking water

Jelly Bean takes his turn at my watercolor rinse water while Mr. Sunshine waits.

As part of the set up for a day of working in the studio, every cat in the room needs to interact with whatever it is I’ll be using. This is especially important when I watercolor—each needs to have a good long drink from my jar of rinse water before I even begin painting. Perhaps it’s that little residual cat spit in the water that gives my work a special quality.

Then all cats must walk on all surfaces and inspect all boxes and other containers. Below, Mewsette waits her turn at the water while Mr. Sunshine pauses in his drink. Mimi has finished her drink goes on to inspect my work table.

three black cats in studio

Where am I supposed to fit?

I’ve discovered it’s best if I just let them do as they please, then settle down. That’s not a bad policy in other areas of life either.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

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.


Thanks for the Kreativ Blogger Award!

Kreative Blogger Award

Thanks to Mark Wallis of The Vibes for honoring The Creative Cat with this award for “Wonderful paintings of animals and people complete with witty commentary.” I’m flattered! It’s really my cats who do the witty commentary, and, well, those paintings, sure, but if it weren’t for my felines I’d never win any awards. Lately he’s been using Instagram and his cool and colorful travels through music, art and society in Manchester, England, are real eye-candy and especially read about Sparky and other cats who have shared his life.

Okay, seven interesting facts about me…

1. Under my henna-red hair, which we discussed when I won the ABC Award, I am nearly 100% gray. Still shocks me when my roots start to come in, especially because the henna is just a little brighter than my natural chestnut color.

2. My college degree and advanced education is not in art as everyone seems to think—I have a BA in English “emphasizing creative and professional writing” (Edinboro State College didn’t have a major in writing). Later that degree helped me get a job when the person reading my resume assumed I was a good typist with all that writing I’d done (I was, 103 wpm) so I got my first job as a typesetter. Sometimes, that’s how it goes.

I’m running out of ideas already.

3. I am a Master Gardener and about 25 years ago nearly purchased a greenhouse business intending to make it into one of the first all-organic greenhouse and landscape operations in my area, starting all the plant seeds myself and using as many heirloom vegetables and plants as I could find.

4. I still garden in my back yard, and for nearly a decade I grew nearly everything I ate out of this little plot, with cold frames and raised beds, and canned and jellied and otherwise processed everything I could for winter. My yard grew shady as my neighbor’s trees grew (natural air conditioning) so it no longer produces enough and it’s still odd to go shopping for food.

Three more…

5. I work with environmental organizations to work on brochures, websites and other projects that need to be publicized according to grant requirements and also designing newsletters so I know all sorts of cool facts about how much rain water can be collected off your roof into a rain barrel and just how abandoned mine drainage is formed in old mine chambers.

6. I don’t have a television, and haven’t had one since 1993—cable became too expensive and I wasn’t watching it anyway. I listen to the radio (public radio) and recorded books, and now I can find a lot of news on the internet. No sign of a TV coming back into the house.

7. I’ve been working on a computer since 1979, yes we had computers then, just not personal computers, and data entry was done on them at colleges, one of my many work-study jobs; I continued with computers through the 80s with my “unintended career” as a typesetter and then graphic designer, and I’ve owned a personal computer since 1993.

Now for the part I am always uncomfortable about in this award practice: name seven blogs who win the award. First, how could I limit it to seven? Second, how could I explain to the ones who are not on the list?

I’m going to take the chicken way out. See that list on the right? It’s pretty well up to date. Choose any one there and visit them!