Do You Have to Do That Right Now?

two black cats on desk

"Do you have to do that right now?"

Mr. Sunshine looks at Jelly Bean with annoyance and mild disgust as JB happily flops down, flips his leg in the air and begins washing.

“You’d better not try to wash me any time too soon.”

“As if you never do this,” said Jelly Bean as he made a slight adjustment and washed his leg. “Is this better for your delicate sensibilities?”

two black cats on desk

"Is this better?"

“Of all the brothers in the world, how did I end up with this simpleton?” Mr. Sunshine wonders.


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.

Giuseppe and His Goldfinch Buddy: 2011

black cat with goldfinch

Giuseppe with his buddy the goldfinch.

I haven’t been able to get a photo yet this year, and I’m still not sure if it’s the same little guy, but the goldfinch is back!

I’m not sure exactly when this began or if it’s the same goldfinch, but this will be the third year a goldfinch has come to the window and engaged Giuseppe in a conversation. Likely, though, it is the same goldfinch—they are returning and this is the first time I’ve seen this visit this year.

You can see the goldfinch on the outside looking right at Giuseppe, and I might think he was reacting to a reflection in the window, but when I open the window during the summer, the goldfinch comes to the screen.

Giuseppe doesn’t jump at him, just paws the screen or window, but never acts like a predator. With other birds that come to the window and visit the feeder, he certainly does!

The goldfinch doesn’t say a word, just looks inside.

None of the other cats react to the goldfinch or even seem to notice it when it comes to the window. Often, once Giuseppe has noticed it, another will come by and chase it off.

I’m sure they know each other, these two, Giuseppe and the goldfinch. Maybe they’re just exchanging guy talk. Perhaps someday I’ll figure out how that is.

black cat with goldfinch

Giuseppe waves at the goldfinch.

A Celebration of the Earth

cardinals on post

The Kissing Cardinals, Mr. and Mrs. feeding each other in a sweet courtship ritual.

A few years ago I answered the questions on a “What’s Your Footprint?” test on a website that gave points or demerits in accordance with how choices you made in your lifestyle affected the earth and I ended up with a negative footprint. How is that? Is it mounded up instead of impressed into the soil as footprints tend to be? No, it just meant I was below the minimum level of points for their scale. And it would have been even lower if they had listened to me about the scoring for use of a dishwasher*.

Well, big whoop for me—it’s not by any intentional virtue, though I have always tried to learn more and be careful about how much energy I used in daily activities. It began as a combination of selfishness and economic necessity, choosing what I could afford to buy and do and not wanting to simply fall in step with what I thought was a lot of wasted time and money. I was intrigued by how people managed in the days before modern conveniences and actually wanted to drop off the grid for a while to learn to live without these things, really, like, off in the woods somewhere, but not forever or even for very long, then pick and choose the ones I wanted and stay with them.

I never went all the way to the end with that, always living in a pretty conventional space but I really did examine all the things in my life and discarded what was not right for me and embraced what was. By coincidence I chose to do things that were also earthy-friendly.

I’ve gardened for 25 years, all but my first year by organic standards, and for many of those years as a vegetarian raised nearly all the food I ate, preserving what was extra for non-gardening months. I saved seeds, started my own plants from those seeds, composted everything compostable from my household including my waste paper from desk and studio and even my dryer lint.

That’s a lot of work, not composting dryer lint but gardening that intensively, and it’s not for everyone but those who love it and actively choose to do it. I really don’t know how the human race advanced when until this century people had to work so hard just to grow enough food to stay alive, and if they didn’t manage to do so they would simply die. Those are pretty high stakes, and I can see why, when modern chemicals promised and delivered growing crops with less work and less risk of loss, everyone jumped on it.

But we often don’t learn the risks of things until we’ve been actively involved in them for some time, like the effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on soil and air and water and human health. When Rachel Carson wroteSilent Spring we had already been involved in use of agricultural chemicals at an increasing level for nearly two decades if we count testing and use during WWII. Rachel Carson, among others, could see the risks developing even at that early date, but others still saw rampant hunger in this country and around the world that these “modern” growing methods could alleviate, while, of course, others saw lots of money; in short, a lot of interests were at stake, and still are.

Many of the issues that determine how the earth is used and left for others are this big, involving most of the planet, like drilling for oil, clearing rain forests, implementing alternative energy resources, and seem way too big for individuals to have any impact if they either try to influence one way or the other, or simply go their own way and make other choices.

But everyday choices do make a huge difference, and simply because some issues are really too big for us as individuals to have much impact today, we don’t often realize that even a small act can much later have a bigger impact than expected, and can make change in ways we never intended. This weekend a friend hosted a “Rainbarrel Workshop” wherein people can learn not only how to make a rainbarrel but why they would want to go to the trouble. I gave him the materials I had researched and written and illustrated into an informational package the year after our community suffered a devastating flash flood, a flood that may have been mitigated though not eliminated if stormwater had been better managed.

What can a rainbarrel do?

  • One inch of rain over one square foot of roof yields about 0.62 gallons of water, though the average roof send only about 80% of the water that falls on it into the downspouts, the rest splashing off or even evaporating.
  • Multiplying by 0.8, one square foot of roof for a one inch rain gives 0.5 gallons.
  • One hundred square feet of roof (10’ x 10’) yields 50 gallons of water in a one inch rain.
  • One thousand square feet of roof (20’ x 50’) yields 500 gallons of water in a one inch rain.

So if you have one or more rainbarrels that catch your rainwater and keep it out of local streams and waterways, you are saving that many gallons of rainwater from overburdening your local system during high water events. If your neighbors also have rainbarrels your neighborhood is potentially saving thousands of gallons of stormwater.

Plus, you can use those gallons of water to wash your car or water your garden, saving on your utilities.

And when we host rainbarrel workshops usually about two dozen people attend, learn all these facts and spread them on, plus they met other like-minded people they otherwise wouldn’t have, and a community is formed.

Yes, maintaining a rain barrel, being careful about what you use on your lawn, turning off the water while you brush your teeth, combining trips in the car or sharing rides and myriad other choices you make do cause change, in you and in your environment.

But no one person can do it all. I drove a 35 mile round trip to work for ten years, all by myself on the highway instead of carpooling or trying to find public transportation or moving closer to where I worked while I was living off my little back yard. And I hate to think of what I’ve done to the earth in terms of cat litter over the years I’ve been rescuing cats and living with about nine at once for most of that time.

So do you choose to drive a distance to purchase organic produce or do you save the fossil fuels and visit a local grocery where produce might be grown with various amounts of chemicals? Do you choose to use wind-powered energy when you’re reading that thousands of migrating birds and bats are killed by wind turbines, or maybe they’re not? And information keeps changing?

In the end, it’s more about being aware and making choices than it is about following rules. Make an informed choice, and do what you can. We all leave a footprint of some sort, but we can wisely choose where we step and how heavily we walk.

I’m happy to pass along the things I’ve researched and learned over the years in my features Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat and Living Green With Pets. In my “other life” outside of writing about and painting and photographing and doting on my cats, I am a Master Gardener and it’s been my pleasure to work with a number of environmental organizations for years in writing and illustrating newsletters, brochures, websites, advertisements and other professional communications.

*About that dishwasher: the test claimed that the most modern dishwashers were more efficient than filling a sink with water to wash and rinse your dishes so the energy and water used by the dishwasher and the residue left by the soap you used left a smaller footprint than washing in the sink. I commented that I’ve seen people use more water to rinse their dishes before they even went in the dishwasher than I used to wash and rinse, but they didn’t go for that. I didn’t get any extra points for looking out the window and singing to myself while I washed by hand instead of watching TV or engaging in some other activity that might use utilities generated by fossil fuels and creating pollution either. Darn.


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.

Favorite Daily Sketches Available on Etsy

framed painting of sleeping cat

Kelly in Warm Colors, framed pastel, 8" x 10" © B.E. Kazmarski

You could say this is a People’s Choice Gallery! I appreciate the feedback and requests about my daily sketches on The Creative Cat. According to what you’ve asked I’ve expanded the gallery of daily sketches in my Etsy shop to include both framed originals and digital prints as well as a few framed prints. I am working on framing for others as well. If there’s a sketch you’d like to see in my Etsy shop, please speak up!

Above is “Kelly in Warm Colors” in a frame I hand-tinted in tones of gold to match the warm colors in the sketch. For the mats I used a forest green suede-finish mat for that wonderful richness it imparts and the natural patterning of suede that mimics my blending and fingering style when I work my pastel on drawing paper, and a gold liner mat that brings a little bit of reflected light next to the painting. Overall it’s 8″ x 10″, and I’m very pleased to see this sweet little sketch in this more finished form. I am also offering it as a digital print, and in the very near future will also offer this and many others as small prints on stretched canvas—my first proofs of these have worked well and been very attractive. Read more about this sketch from the day I posted it.

Other small and colorful works

Here are a the other small and colorful sketches I’ve added to my gallery.

framed oil pastel sketch of cat

Grape Jelly Bean, framed oil pastel, 8" x 10" © B.E. Kazmarski

Read more about Grape Jelly Bean from the day I posted it. I learned the art and skill of picture framing years ago when I had an estimate on framing the first of my own cat portraits. Now I purchase directly from wholesale suppliers and often from manufacturers and a portion of my studio and my time is devoted to keeping my matboards, frames, glass, finishes and specialized tools for framing. But I’ll often shop for quality pre-made frames for smaller art because it’s often less expensive.

framed watercolor of cat

Colorful Kelly, framed watercolor, 8" x 10 © B.E. Kazmarski

Read more about Colorful Kelly from the day I posted it. I love these wide, plain white frames I found! The moment I saw them I knew they’d be perfect for these small simple and colorful paintings.

framed print of oil pastel painting

Two Cats After van Gogh, framed digital print, 8" x 10" © B.E. Kazmarski

Read more about Two Cats After van Gogh from the day I posted it. The weathered white frame is nice for small colorful works as well. I had spent some time playing around with customizing mat boards and wide wooden unfinished frames to coordinate with these three works, above, but no matter what I did it just overwhelmed the works. I decided to let them speak for themselves, and these simple frames to do that with just the addition of complementary, unpatterned mats.

The original sketch of “Two Cats After van Gogh” actually sold before I had the chance to post it, but I’ve decided to offer a print framed as the original in its place.

Larger sketches in one or two colors

Several pencil, charcoal, ink and conté sketches were also popular, and I’ve framed the first group for which I gathered complementary frames and mats. In addition to retail frames and custom framing, I also “repurpose” older frames which I purchase at thrift shops, and I have a constant supply which friends give me rather than tossing them in the trash or donating them. Matching art with frames is just as fun.

framed pencil sketch of cats on a bed

Curled on the Bed, framed pencil sketch, 12" x 14" © B.E. Kazmarski

Read more about Curled on the Bed from the day I posted it. I’ve had this frame for a while with its little scrolly pattern in a dull gold with a blue-gray wash that fills the areas between the curlicues. I had intentionally included background details in this sketch and thought this frame would help to bring them forward with both the pattern and color.

framed pencil sketch of three cats on bed

Three Cats, framed pencil sketch, 12" x 16" © B.E. Kazmarski

Read more about Three Cats from the day I posted it. I use this black molding for a number of things and its matte finish always takes as a very dense black, but that contrasts well with the more delicate pencil lines and shadings of one of my first daily sketches—the one that inspired me to begin posting daily sketches, in fact. I used softer tones with this, a mauve marbled top mat and solid mauve liner mat, to enhance the idea of peaceful rest demonstrated by three cuddling kitties.

framed pencil sketch of three cats eating

Dinnertime!, framed pencil sketch, 12" x 16" © B.E. Kazmarski

Read more about Dinnertime! from the day I posted it. This sketch of the three girls is one of my favorites, and because Kelly and Cookie are torties with touches of orange and Mimi has a good bit of mahogany in her fur I used a rust-colored liner mat to recall those tones, and a silver-gray marbled mat to complement the pencil.

framed pencil and watercolor sketch of cat

Peaches' Nap Spot, pencil with watercolor, 12" x 16" © B.E. Kazmarski

This sketch is not one of the current set I’ve been posting on The Creative Cat, but from a few years ago when I did sketches around the house occasionally, featuring sweet little Peaches. I’ve used this sketch to illustrate stories and also offer it as a greeting card, but the original has been tucked into a sketch book for safe keeping; I decided to frame it along with these others.

conte sketch of three cats

Massive Cuddle Puddle, conté and charcoal, 11" x 14" © B.E. Kazmarski

Read more about Massive Cuddle Puddle from the day I posted it. The full name of this sketch is “Massive Cuddle Puddle Blocks Major Work Space” and coordinates with a few photo posts from a day when my desk was piled high with cats cuddling under the kitty keep-warm lamps. It has surprised me that a medium like conté, which is not very well-known outside of art classes though it’s been around for centuries, was immediately popular with readers. I like its expressiveness and the richness of its colors, especially the red which mimics the natural red earth color often used in traditional art and craft and dating back to prehistoric cave paintings. The top mat on this matches that red color in a red earth toned suede-finish mat, again mimicking the swirls in the conte as it does in my pastels.

Sold Originals, but available as prints and more

painting of two cats

Purple Cats, Red Blanket, ink and watercolor © B.E. Kazmarski

Above is Purple Cats, Red Blanket, felt-tip ink technical drawing pen with watercolor washes, signed and dated 1/6/12. This painting sold, and thanks to the buyer for your wonderful complements. I love to see my art go to good homes just as much as I love to see my rescued kitties go to good homes! I’m offering full-size digital prints of this, and I have a small stock of small note cards. I’ll be offering it again at Valentine’s Day as a Valentine, and also as a blank greeting card. See it here on Etsy.

oil pastel sketch of two cats

Two Cats After van Gogh, oil pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

The original of this tiny oil pastel sketch also sold to another good home! I’m offering a print framed as the original on Etsy as well as digital prints, and I’m also looking forward to publishing this as a greeting card and in other forms as well. The 5″ x 7″ stretched canvases look nice (you’ll see), and it makes a cool little notebook cover too. We’ll see how many ways I can apply this and the other little colorful sketches. Suggestions are welcome!

Read more about Daily Sketches

Read my initial post about creating and posting my daily sketches.

See other Daily Sketches

I post my sketches here, and you can also browse them here in the menu by choosing “Daily Images>Daily Sketches“. You can find the ones available for sale by visiting my Etsy shop in Daily Sketches, Cats etc.

The Artist’s Life Series

Click here for more articles in “The Artist’s Life” series featuring my influences, inspirations, new work and new products.


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.