Daily Sketch: Relaxing

charcoal sketch of two cats

Relaxing, charcoal pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

I’m glad someone got some work done around here today because my cats were all totally useless. So the temperature was a humid 82 degrees in mid-afternoon. I wasn’t lying around like a dishrag! But I did have two or more cats on my desk all day, and still do at this very moment. I guess they wanted me to see how miserable they were.

Mimi sits up for a brief interlude of awakeness in an entire day of sleeping on top of the same pile of mail in nearly the same position all day. For most of the time, Giuseppe used her as a pillow, at which point you couldn’t see too much of her. Giuseppe takes up enough room for two cats and tries to spread himself as far as he can go.

Even in their resting state, unless they are in a deep sleep, they move constantly. Most sketches take me less than five minutes as my goal is to challenge my observation skills and hand-eye coordination and to keep from getting mired down in details. When I sketch them as outlined figures, I rough in their approximate outline, then go from one section to another with harder lines to define the outline. When I have more figures I rough in all of them then define their heads and other features as quickly as possible.

Paws and tails and heads may move in the meantime but the light rough outline keeps me in line and unless they get up and move completely before I have enough detail I’m fine with filling in quickly from that extremely short-term memory that holds an image in my mind clearly, but only for a few minutes before it begins to fade. In this case Mimi had been initially washing her face and her head was curved down much farther and at a different angle. She sat up, so I worked on other areas of the sketch waiting to see if she would go back to washing her face. In this case the short-term memory was holding too much, and there are times when I will put the sketch aside but keep an eye on the cat in question, and even hours later catch them in the same activity and finish the section I need. She never did go back to that position, so I drew her upright position instead.

If I’ve drawn in guidelines or even begun to firm up an area and they move, I leave the lines there, and I’ll try to work them into the finished sketch. I don’t erase anything unless, when I’m done, something in the finished sketch looks too confusing to let it go, and then I’ll try my best to lighten the lines or remove them. In this case something was confusing to me while I was drawing and I had to remove prior lines. Where Mimi had been leaning forward washing her face as I described above, my prior lines kept me thinking she was crouching and I was tending to draw what I was thinking instead of what was there, that three-quarter back posture, the two alert ears, her attention turned away. I had to erase that original outline as best as I could in order to go on.

All that for this simple little sketch!

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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.


Watch Cat

black cat at top of steps

Watch Cat.

[Sshhhhh…mom is trying out Wordless Wednesday. This is hard for her. You know she always has to tell stories. You should live with her. But I am Jelly Bean enjoying the sun at the top of the steps. See you later.]

Visit the Blog Hop.

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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.


A Very Special Mother’s Day in 2006

watercolor portrait of dog and two cats

Shadow, Casey and Ralph, watercolor, 12" x 16", 2006 © B.E. Kazmarski

Several years ago, a couple who had each had me paint portraits of their cats Dusty and DeVille as gifts for each other decided they wanted to give her mother a portrait of her mother’s dog and two cats as a Mother’s Day gift. They all shared the same love for their animal companions, and Shadow, the dog, was growing older. All the animals were rescues, adopted from shelters.

detail of portrait

Shadow's face; Shadow was black with a lot of mahogany in his fur.

The two went about sneaking photographs from her mother and mailing them to me. The very first portrait I had done for them was a watercolor of his cat Dusty and the second a pastel of her cat DeVille, but for this portrait they chose watercolor.

detail of orange cat's face

Casey's face, clear stripes and yellow eyes.

Most of my portraits are pastel but I enjoy the break when I the commission is a different medium. I looked forward to it, studying the photos and visualizing the colors and the brushes I’d use for fur and stripes and animal eyes and noses, seeing the brush strokes on the watercolor paper.

detail of portrait

Ralph, deep orange and white, and a little timid.

They gave her the portrait in my studio

When portraits are gifts, I am rarely present for the giving but in this case they decided to present it here because they wanted her mother to meet me. She actually had no idea why she was coming to this stranger’s house, just appreciating the day out with her daughter and son-in-law.

I had the framed portrait on my easel in the corner covered with a silk scarf I keep for the occasion. This was several years ago and I now work upstairs, but I have always kept an easel in the corner of my “office” downstairs, the room intended to be a living room into which you enter, for presentation and display of current work. At the right time of day you can see right into the room so I’ve always been careful when people were coming to visit their portraits that they couldn’t see them before they even came into my house.

pastel portrait of tabby and white cat

DeVille, pastel, 10" x 12", 2005 © B.E. Kazmarski

They introduced me and my household of cats, and we talked about our pets while we had snacks and iced tea. Then I slipped into the kitchen and they took over, leading their mother to the easel and letting her know the purpose of the visit, pulling the scarf off the portrait so she could see Shadow, Casey and Ralph. I re-entered the room; it was a wonderful moment to share with the three of them.

They were sure her mother would love a portrait of her companions, and I knew if her mother was anything like the couple I had gotten to know there was no better Mother’s Day gift—not only recognizing and sharing her mother’s love for her pets, but also the gift the daughter had obviously inherited from her mother, a loving and generous heart and compassion for people and animals.

detail of portrait

Detail of DeVille.

A Mother’s Day Special, and Father’s Day too

Did your parents pass on to you a love of animals? Did they decide one day you needed an animal companion of your own, starting you on a lifelong path of sharing your days with cats and dogs and birds and bunnies and ferrets and any other animal that came along?

Thank those people who gave you this gift—and I’m loosely defining mother and father because sometimes the person who shared their love of animals with you was an aunt or uncle or grandparent, or even a neighbor who rescued cats or dogs. In everyone’s life is at least one special person who shared a love of animals, and in that person’s life there is often an animal companion who is or was very special to them.

I’m offering 10% off the purchase of a portrait certificate or a commissioned portrait that is booked between now and Mother’s Day—and Father’s Day as well. Portraits take up to four weeks, especially with framing and then shipping, but we can work things out with certificates and portraits that are done some time in the next two months.

About Commissioned Portrait Gift Certificates

sample portrait certificate

Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

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.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

Mother’s Day Discounts in my Etsy Shop

Use MOTHERSPORTRAIT10 to receive 10% off the purchase of a portrait certificate or of the cost of a commissioned portrait (we will discuss the portrait and I will give you an estimate).

Use MOTHERSDAY10 to receive 10% off the purchase of Mother’s Day gifts, which may include a portrait certificate or of the cost of a commissioned portrait.

Father’s Day Discounts in my Etsy Shop

Use FATHERSPORTRAIT10 to receive 10% off the purchase of a portrait certificate or of the cost of a commissioned portrait (we will discuss the portrait and I will give you an estimate).

Use FATHERSDAY10 to receive 10% off the purchase of Mother’s Day gifts, which may include a portrait certificate or of the cost of a commissioned portrait.

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Purchase a gift certificate for a commissioned portrait.

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

Commissioned Cat Portraitsportrait of black cat in wicker chair Commissioned Dog Portraitspastel portrait of dogs

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.