Daily Sketch: Art Cat

pastel painting of cat with brushes and paints

Art Cat, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Above is the original scan of the painting, color balanced as closely as I could get it. At the bottom of this post is the photographed edition. Neither is truly correct! But I’m moving on. See if you can find the differences.

I’m trying out a new type of drawing paper with my wonderfully soft Sennelier pastels. What better to test on than my cats?

This is Fabriano Pastello Tiziano, a heavy-duty lightly-textured paper meant for soft pastels. The background color is the color of the paper, and I thought I’d like a backlit scene so that I could pull the highlights up against the dark shapes and the mid-range background. I like the paper, mostly because the pastels work so well on it.

Here, beginning as Mr. Sunshine and ending up as Mewsette (they are very similar in shape and size), she twirls around to wash her hip, sitting next to little jars of fabric paint and my jar of watercolor brushes. I kept everything in the more vibrant red and blue range with highlights of yellow and just a touch of green.

Problem is, the colors in this are wrong! I actually use my scanner for my daily sketches, much more efficient than photographing and downloading since I download dozens of photos and need to deal with them all; this way I scan one image. But the scanner isn’t always accurate, as now. The highlights on the objects on the left are much more clear and bold and those objects are overall, believe it or not, much brighter.

Mewsette is way far off! Where you see the burgundy is actually a vibrant red-violet, and more of it. Around that is a navy blue which is actually a deep purple. Then that lovely turquoise, which I like, is actually a cornflower blue with just a hint of violet. I used all that purple to complement the orange and yellow highlights, but I guess my scanner knows better.

I would need daylight and the good camera to get this one right. I will do that tomorrow or the next day and update.

But I like the sketch and I have missed two days. Fridays are busy at my computer closing out weekly work with customers, and Saturday I was gone all day, but today I have time for experimentation.

And here is the revised photo of the sketch. I didn’t change the sketch at all, just photographed it in daylight instead of scanning it. Normally I photograph outdoors with reflected daylight because it’s the most balanced, but not for this sketch! I had to photograph it in full sun to get the colors correct, and they are still not quite there but I’m over it. There are things I like about each of them even though they are the same image.

pastel sketch of cat and art materials

Art Cat, pastel, rephotographed © B.E. Kazmarski

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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.

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.


Meet Miko and Sasha

portrait of two Himalayan cats

Miko and Sasha, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Meet Miko and Sasha, half-sisters but full-bred Himalayan kitties, and the center of life for their cat daddy for all of their years together. Miko came first, and she was such a joy that when she was still young he decided to adopt another kitty and a friend for Miko.

I had a wonderful time researching the Himalayan breed and meeting Himalayan cats at cat shows for background information (twist my arm, make me read about cats and go to cat shows), and it did offer me specific information on colors of fur and eyes and on body shape. Even if I don’t get to meet the subjects, it’s always helpful to see and feel and hold an animal of a similar breed before I start to work. But while Sasha had the same parents, though born in a later litter, even with the same parents and bloodlines the difference between the two girls was surprising and endearing.  Miko was decidedly the older sister, and Sasha the little wild child even to the differences in their fur—Miko was about as smooth as a Himalayan can be, poised, crossing her paws, while Sasha’s fur was always a little wild and she was ready for action.

face of himalayan cat

Miko with her crossed paws and neat hair © B.E. Kazmarski

Their masks were different shapes, their ears were set just a little differently, partly by attitude, and the color and texture of their fur, while actually the same, looked quite different because it laid just a little differently to reflect the individual personalities.

With a stack of photos we determined what the portrait would look like, showing their faces, of course, but also their paws and tails as fondly-remembered features. In several photos they are sitting by the door you see looking outside, and because they loved that door to the outside so much we decided to use that as the backdrop, but to turn them around to face us which would accommodate all the features we wanted to see.

face of himalayan cat

Sasha with her wild eyes and wild hair © B.E. Kazmarski

I met Miko and Sasha’s parents some time after the two girls had passed, so I never had a chance to meet them, and I thank Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation for the referral.

A little background

I’ve completed a few portraits in the past few years that I have not featured here because of the timing of the portraits. In the case of Miko and Sasha, I met with their people, unintentionally, of course, the night before Peaches died in October 2010. Normally I start on portraits right away but I really can’t work with much focus after a loss, especially if my subject is feline, so I got a later start than I had intended in assembling photos and getting my basic image done before I even got to paper. Then my mother was gravely ill and passed away, and it was March, 2011 before I had any significant work done. By that time I had forgotten details of our conversations and needed a refresher as I discovered I had gotten the two girls confused in their initial rendering.

I worked my way through more details, remodeled my studio and got new pastels which helped immensely, then discovered that my customers were not getting my e-mail updates at all. We did finally connect and I carefully passed along more updates, but it wasn’t until just before Christmas 2011 that they finally got their portrait! I am grateful for their patience, though I know it wore thin.

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Read about other recent commissioned portraits here on The Creative Cat.
Read about how I create commissioned portraits.
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.

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.


January Light

gray and white cat in sun

Namir in January morning sun.

January light is so beautiful, the sun still at a low angle streaming into windows and doors, the days often overcast and the brilliant warm yellow sunlight a respite.

I was browsing my library of feline photos and saw this one of Namir from 2007, who you’ve only met through stories since he passed about the time I began blogging, and thought I’d share it. He has his toys there, the sisal mouse and a milk bottle ring, but as animals, and humans, do when they meet up with the relaxing effect of warm winter sun, a contemplative stillness falls, and perhaps a nap ensues.

Namir was so graceful and dignified and obviously knew how to strike a pose, even though he was a total goof and in another moment could be on his back with his legs impossibly twisted, or toss that mouse up in the air and do a back flip right after it. I love his pose, and also the little touches of home, my home, the canning jars, honey jar, oatmeal container; perhaps I only love it so much because it was one of those complete moments that we all experience now and then, where every familiar thing is in its place and all is warm and safe and filled with love.

I took a series of photos of Namir in the sun in the kitchen that January, enjoying them as photos and intending to do a few paintings, and indeed I did do a watercolor of one of Namir’s poses from another morning.

watercolor of a cat in kitchen

Darling Clementine, watercolor © B.E. Kazmarski

I chose this one because I also liked Namir’s intent posture, ears forward, whiskers drawn back, his tail curled into the nearly perfect circle that was his trademark tail action.

This photo had much more light in it as it washed the cabinet, but I also had the wooden clementines box filled with things that needed to go into the basement, the canning jars and the cylindrical cardboard containers with their brightly-colored labels. Another example of that homey feel, my kitchen, my stuff, my habits, my cat, my home. Yet others enjoy it too. Sometimes we are not too different from one another.

I also posted this on Today today; it’s one I’d wanted to share with both audiences.

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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 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.


Colorful Block Print Valentine Note Cards

block print Valentine cards

Linoleum block-printed Valentine cards inspired by Valentine Candy hearts!

I usually print these little linocuts in earth tones or “tabby colors”, but I’ve been itching to use brights and pastels and all sorts of combinations with them. Considering the designs, what better time to start with this than Valentine’s day to create hand-printed cards in magenta on pink, violet, magenta and red card stock, embellished with magenta or purple stamp ink, just saturated with color for Valentine’s Day!

This set of 4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ note cards features two designs combining my hand-cut block prints with commercial rubber stamps on smooth uncoated 70 lb. cover stock.

I offer them in sets of single color cards with matching envelopes and in one big set of all four colors.

block-printed note cards

Magenta on pink set.

PINK, VIOLET AND MAGENTA CARDS
A single kitty entitled “Sunshine and Flowers” printed in magenta says “MEOW!” stamped in magenta with a commercial rubber stamp. Inside “You’re PURRRFECT” is stamped in magenta with a commercial rubber stamp.

Two kitties cuddling for a bath say “You’re PURRRFECT” stamped in magenta with a commercial rubber stamp. Inside “MEOW!” is stamped in magenta with a commercial rubber stamp.

magenta on red

Magenta on red with purple stamp ink.

RED CARDS
A single kitty entitled “Sunshine and Flowers” printed in magenta says “MEOW!” stamped in purple with a commercial rubber stamp. Inside “You’re PURRRFECT” is stamped in purple with a commercial rubber stamp.

Two kitties cuddling for a bath say “You’re PURRRFECT” stamped in purple with a commercial rubber stamp. Inside “MEOW!” is stamped in purple with a commercial rubber stamp.

violet cards

Violet cards printed in magenta.

On the back of all the cards I’ve stamped in purple ink the name of the series of block prints, my logo and my name and contact information.

Each set comes with Soft Pink 70 lb. text weight acid-free envelopes which are inkjet/laser compatible. The set of six, including three each of the two designs, are packed in a clear-top vinyl greeting card box.

Individual color sets come with matching envelopes, and use these links to find each of these sets in my Etsy shop:

Pink cards come with Soft Pink envelopes.

Violet cards come with Soft Violet envelopes.

Magenta cards come with Autumn Red envelopes.

Red cards come with Autumn Red envelopes.

three black cats with printed note cards

Mewsette, Giuseppe and Jelly Bean inspect each card.

ABOUT THE ART: TABBIES LINOLEUM BLOCK PRINTS

The stripes made me do it! The clarity of tabby cat stripes as they outline a cat’s features and define its shape has always been an inspiration for more graphic designs.

These cards were block printed, a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.

These two designs are from a set of four, and have always had a sweet and cuddly feel to me. I’d always printed these in natural earth tones but have been planning to print them in bright colors on brightly-colored paper as well.

Please explore my greeting card collections in my shop on Etsy to see all the designs and others too.

three black cats with cards

"These cats are all covered with funny markings," say the three perfect black cats.

I photographed the process as I printed these—of course, with feline supervision—and I’ll be posting my article soon to explain how block prints are made.

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All images and text used in this article 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.


Purple Cats Valentine Note Cards

note cards with purple cats and red blanket

Purple Cats Valentine Note Cards

You may recognize this little painting—it was one of my most popular daily sketches, “Purple Cats, Red Blanket”, and just lends itself to a Valentine theme.

These note cards are 4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ and printed on uncoated cover stock, rather than the matte finish stock I usually prefer for cards, to mimic the original watercolor paper I used for the illustration.

The message inside is “Purr Hearts”, which I drew by hand in pen, a message that can be given to a friend or to someone who is a little more than a friend!

hand-drawn purr hearts

Purr Hearts, my own little doodle in ink

Each card comes with Autumn Red 70 lb. text weight acid-free envelopes which are inkjet/laser compatible. They are packed in a clear-top vinyl greeting card box.

I will have these small note cards available in my Etsy shop until Valentine’s Day; after Valentine’s Day I will be offering the design as part of my “Feline Greetings Art Cards” selection as a 5″ x 7″ card.

watercolor of two cats on blanket

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

ABOUT THE ART

This daily sketch was done in felt-tip ink technical drawing pen with watercolor washes, signed and dated 1/6/12, and pictures Jelly Bean and Mewsette using a red blanket I’d tossed to the landing for the laundry as a comfy impromptu cat bed.

Black cats, like white cats, have all sorts of colors in their fur, and in the day’s filtered sunlight their fur glistened with all sorts of highlights and shadows. The randomly shaped and wrinkled red blanket heightened the range of colors in their fur and even the neutral wood floor held random combinations in its old unfinished grain. Mostly, the composition was what attracted me in the first place: two similar heavy rounded shapes, the random soft shape and the smooth shape brought elements together in a very pleasing way.

I think cats are very aware of how they can create beautiful compositions simply by being in them.

The original painting, matted and framed, is also available in my Etsy shop.

DAILY SKETCHES

If you read The Creative Cat regularly, you see my sketches nearly every day.

I endeavor to do at least a small sketch each day as a warm-up to my aesthetic senses, so I have a small pouch of art materials and a few various sized sketchbooks available in the house and out. Usually, these are done in pencil, my first and favorite medium, though sometimes it’s charcoal, ink, colored pencil, ink and brush, whatever strikes my fancy at the moment, the greatest challenge to keep it quick and not get caught up in details, let the idea flow onto the paper.

Most often, the subjects are my cats because they are such willing models, though sometimes I’ll also wander afield, literally, and sketch in my yard or anywhere I go for errands. Medium and especially style vary just so I get a chance to do something new.

Every once in a while, they are meant for framing, and I’ve designed a series of notecards, notepaper and notepads using other daily sketches of my cats, and even of backyard birds and scenes in nature. Often I use them as illustrations for graphics projects I’m designing.

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All images and text used in this article 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.


Cookie Says, “Thank You!”

tortoiseshell cat at window

Someone has to keep an eye on things out there.

“All your good thoughts made their way to me and I feel much better. I’m back to keeping an eye on the neighborhood.”

It has to be that, I only changed a few things for her and today she is stronger and more interactive, still a little unsteady but definitely a different cat from yesterday. I might fool myself to think it might be a bit of a turnaround, but I just don’t get the feeling Cookie is ready to give in.

She got up on the shelf on her own but climbing up my camera bag and purse to my lap, to the keyboard tray to my desk to the shelf in front of the window. She’s gotten up and down the steps, and up on the kitchen table to get to the cabinet, which she couldn’t do for a few days.

And Kelly is feeling a little better, no longer spending the day in Narnia in the back of the closet, so today I had the pleasure of two tortie cats on my lap again as I worked at my computer.

two tortoiseshell cats on lap

Cookie and Kelly settle on my lap again.

Mewsette takes her responsibility seriously and tries to fit on my lap with the girls; she thinks she is tortie-sized, but she is easily twice tortie-sized. Initially, Mimi was balanced on my knee cap, and Mewsette was trying to settle, four cats on my lap. My lap is really not that big.

black cats and two tortoiseshell cats

Mewsette tries to figure out where she fits.

Persistent Mewsette finds a way to nuzzle and give a few licks to her little big sisters. Here is Cookie from the front and Kelly’s rear, and you can see the white inside of Mewsette’s ear just above Cookie’s ear.

black cat washing two tortie cats

Mewsette takes care of her little tortoiseshell big sisters.

I am just a big warm cat bed.

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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.


The Little Sunflower: From A Year Ago, Plus Today

cat sitting in sun by door

The Little Sunflower

This sunny morning photo reminded me of this painting I did of Cookie many years ago, from a photo I took of her years before that. She still likes her morning sunbath in the light through the back door, all these years later, and she’s still my Little Sunflower.

My floor is a little worse for the wear, though.

And here she is on the morning of January 23, 2012.

cat sitting by back door

Still my little sunflower.

pastel painting of cat looking out sunny door

The Little Sunflower, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Real sun worshippers, all of my cats wait for the sun to enter the house in the morning and take their appointed spots. The brilliance of that first light and its reflections around the room, plus the contrast of all the exaggerated straight-line shapes with the organic shape of little Cookie and her shadow inspired this one.

This is available as a note card in the set entitled My Cats in the Sun, available in my Marketplace.

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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.


Georgie’s Portrait: Final

portrait of maine coon cat

Georgie, final version, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Catching up on portraits I completed late last year, here is Georgie with her big tail and long, long whiskers, on her chair and all of her favorite toys around her. Below is a view of just her lovely face.

maine coon cat face

Close up of Georgie.

After all the color changes with Georgie’s portrait I am very pleased with her final image: her eyes are the right shade of soft seafoam green, no tan in her ruff, no patina on her curly belly, and her paws crossed in the right way. I have to thank Georgie’s mom for her patience and for sending more photos as I was working.

In Georgie’s portrait I also had the chance to work a style that focuses on the subject and leaves the background loose and undetailed, more impressionistic and colorful. For some reason, I think it was the finish on the drawing paper I used, I couldn’t get the level of photographic detail I usually want with a portrait, one of the things that really slowed me down. But at a point it was either to start over or live with it, and though she wasn’t as “smooth” as I wanted I still loved the way she looked at me.

I’ve written so much about Georgie’s portrait as I was working there isn’t much left to say here, as is always the case when a portrait is finished, but at the end of this post I’ve included a slideshow of all the images I posted of Georgie’s portrait so you can see the development (if the slideshow presents them in my numerical order…sometimes this depends on your browser), and links to the other three articles about her portrait so you can read about Georgie, the 20-year-old Maine Coon cat adopted from a shelter.

And…

I’m sad to report that Georgie died just before Christmas, 2011, unexpected since she was not suffering from any condition, but at 20 we know how quickly that can change. She is missed not only by her person but by the entire family; I remember hearing frequently how her father bought Georgie toys and visited her and took care of her when her person was away. She had always described Georgie as being very innocent and gentle, something we tried to capture in her eyes. Her person said of Georgie:

She touched so many lives in such a gentle and loving way—and had such an impact with my family, me and so many others because she had such a big heart, in addition to her big eyes and tail.  We all learned a lot from her gentle soul.  That’s why it was so difficult to lose her—everyone wanted to take care of her and be generous with her in kind.

I was honored to be able to in some small way prepare for Georgie’s passing, and to refer her to the comforting services of Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation.

And because it had made me feel that my cats will always be remembered when I use their images on greeting cards or tote bags or some other merchandise bearing their portraits, I asked if we could share Georgie that way too. She agreed, so we will have Georgie’s big, gentle presence in the portfolio of felines sending greetings to your friends or becoming a gift for someone special.

Read the articles about Georgie.

Georgie’s Portrait and Another: Color Corrections

Update on Georgie’s Portrait

Meet Georgie

And enjoy the slideshow!

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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.


Two New Daily Sketches on Etsy

watercolor of two cats on blanket

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

I’ve added two more daily sketches to my Etsy shop, both Purple Cats, Red Blanket from 1/6/12 and Sleeping and Bathingfrom 1/10/12. Looks like Mewsette and Jelly Bean are the winners this week! Read the post on Portraits of Animals Marketplace.

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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.


The Unintended Gift: My first cat, and how cats became my muse

a photo of Bootsie, the gray and white cat I had growing up

My first cat, Bootsie

Yes, I really did get a kitten in a box under the Christmas tree when I was a child. The story is not glowingly happy and, in fact, includes a few losses, but led me to the cat who eventually became my “first” kitty, and the rest is history. It’s my pleasure to share it on Christmas, the day it all came together for me, my love of cats, learning to care for them and finding in their grace and beauty to muse that would lead me to painting, writing, photography and my life as an artist.

When I was nine years old, I remember telling my parents and my older sister what kind of animals I liked. I don’t know if this was in response to a question, but I do know I explained completely and with enthusiasm, telling every last detail of what I liked about birds and squirrels and cats and dogs and horses and rabbits, all the animals I had encountered in my early 1960s suburban development childhood.

I remember telling my sister that I liked cats best because they were easier to take care of than dogs, and if I had to choose I’d choose a cat. I don’t know how I knew this except that in those days people didn’t get their animals neutered and, except for hunting dogs in their cages, all animals were allowed to roam. Dogs were loud and seemed to get into more trouble with fights and biting people as some roaming dogs will do, and I had my share of small bites from trying to pet dogs who weren’t interested. And then there was the clean-up issue in everyone’s yards, even yards of people who didn’t have a dog.

Cats, on the other hand, were uniformly small and seemed to be very quiet and gentle and neat, and this appealed to me. I was shy, I was dreamy, I didn’t like loud noises, I was most comfortable in the company of animals, even wild animals, because they didn’t find me odd and weren’t bothered by my silences as humans were, and they didn’t mind when I stared at them without explanation; in fact, they encountered me in much the same way. As an “artist in training” I was a focused observer even at that age. I was outdoors quite a bit roaming the old pasture that was all that was left of the farm our houses had been built on and exploring the woods and waterways of every ravine and hillside, so a dog might have seemed a likely companion for me. But I pictured myself curling up with an animal to read, and that would be more likely one of the nice kitties I had met around the neighborhood.

Every time I learned there was a litter of kittens in the neighborhood, and there always seemed to be one or two litters, I was an annoyance to the owner wanting to see the kittens, and an annoyance to my family wanting to bring a kitten home. Once I helped a neighbor catch two small kittens that had been born and raised in their yard to a mother who had disappeared, and I took them home hoping to keep them, but they only stayed overnight and likely went to a shelter, though that might have been a foretelling of rescues to come.

So the dream came true that Christmas when I was nine and there was an orange kitten in a box under the tree, a tiny six-week-old fuzzball ready for play when let loose from the cardboard carrier. I know little Rusty got no respite from me crawling around on the floor after her, and I was thrilled when, exhausted with batting walnut shells and chasing ribbon, she curled up in my convenient lap, a warm, pliable, purring bundle.
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