Four Faces

four black cats sleeping

The Fantastic Four having a good nap.

Could anyone pose this? No, they really just like to cuddle. They gathered one by one, each tucking into the ones who were there already. Starting on the left, it’s Jelly Bean, then Mr. Sunshine sneaking a peek at me, then Giuseppe completely tucked into his brother, and then Mewsette, who was there first. Still sleeping off yesterday’s mouse incident?

I used a little bit of a ocean ripple filter in PhotoShop around the edges since there were a few confusing things around them, like a framed sketch leaning against the file cabinet and a box with text on it, too distracting. I may get back to my photo edges; I used the heck out of them when it was first a possibility in PhotoShop in the 90s and I over did it, just got tired of them. Now I miss them.

________________________________

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.


Wile E. Mouse

three black cats looking under book case

Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine stare under the book case where something is making scratching noises, Jelly Bean is skeptical.

I think the natural selection of capable kitties has been removing less-capable mice from the pool of genetic material that figures out how to get into my house.

We had a mouse invasion, at least one, though I never presume there is only one, and I still don’t know how they get in. With my old and handmade foundation built from spare parts there could be a space between stones or bricks anywhere in the foundation or even in the spot where the house meets the foundation, and they develop all the time. I really don’t want mice in the house, so I really do hope my hapless felines can follow their natural instincts and chase around a real mouse after all that practice with toys.

three black cats with book case

Mr. Sunshine prepares to leap behind the furniture, Giuseppe watches intently, Jelly Bean is still waiting, for something.

The mouse entered some time on Sunday morning, and the five black cats chased it around for the next 24 hours. Kelly used to sit in the basement and wait for mice, and to my dismay enjoyed long and creative torture sessions (Cookie would take the mouse from her and kill it), and a few times Kelly has fearlessly joined in with the black cats and showed them a thing or two, having earned her keep that way in younger days, but she left this one to them.

But this mouse managed to elude five cats bent on its capture. They had it cornered behind every piece of furniture in the house, and while I know they caught up with it here and there it managed to get away from them, only to run behind yet another piece of furniture and chitter at them. I went to bed and while I am accustomed to each of the five black cats taking their places around and on me, not one joined me—no Mewsette nosing under the covers next to me, Mimi’s tiny weight on my hip, the boys wrestling themselves to sleep on my legs. Some time during the night the mouse ended up in my room as they actually awakened me with chasing it, and I heard it chittering at them again.

four black cats looking out the door

Setting the mouse free on a cold rainy morning.

I did not join them in the chase because I am a human and am therefore not a good mouser. I could chase it all day and I’d never get near it. They stood a better chance, so I left it up to them.

I awoke alone, without the Torturous Tag Team of Giuseppe happily stomping all over me and tickling my face with his whiskers and Mr. Sunshine pulling the covers off me and pulling out one of my hands to gnaw on my knuckles, Mimi looking at me disapprovingly. I heard them running around on the stairs and then in my studio next door to my bedroom. I walked in to see at least four of them with a very angry mouse chittering at them from the corner behind my easel; I guess they were trying to hit with with multiple death ray stares or it was making one heck of an impassioned speech about the meaning of its own life that it had them all entranced. No one paid a bit of attention to me.

two black cats at the door

I had to convince Mewsette and Giuseppe to come upstairs to breakfast.

Eventually, the mouse made a break for it and after some chasing Jelly Bean, who had apparently been conserving his energy for the big event, caught it and ran down the stairs with all of us in pursuit, including Kelly. Where was a video camera then? I couldn’t even get any good photos, too many black cats in the dark of the early morning.

All the way to the basement where he let it go, then caught it again and I opened the basement door and held him near it, gave him a shake, he dropped the mouse and off it ran. Don’t know if the poor thing will make it, and I’m not sure I want that particular set of strong and wily genetics to be reproducing with a vengeful eye toward my household, but if it was still alive after 24 hours being chased by five cats, and maybe six if Kelly joined in at some point, it deserved release. Some cats had a hard time letting the situation go, waiting by the door as if they thought the mouse would come back to play some more.

But they spent the rest of the day sleeping off the day of activity. I’ve referred to them below as a “gob pile”, and those from coal country may recognize that term as referring to the heap of overburden and waste material separated from the coal during coal mining. So that’s what they were today, a heap of black waste material. But they’re a lot prettier than real gobs are. And I’m so glad I didn’t have to spend 24 hours chasing a mouse.

pile of black cats sleeping

The Black Cat Gob Pile.

________________________________

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.


Daily Sketch: TGIF

ink sketch of two cats

TGIF, brush marker © B.E. Kazmarski

“TGIF!!! We’re exhausted! Mom’s been on a roll all week and we haven’t been able to keep up with her. We hear some of us have been ‘framed’! We don’t know, we slept through it all.”

Mr. Sunshine and Giuseppe have been hanging together this week, just sitting together and using each other as pillows. They may have missed all the activity upstairs, but Mimi and Mewsette closely observed all my activities, even if it looked as if they were asleep.

But they are right, I have been on a roll, busy at my computer as well as upstairs in my studio, and I promise I’ll reply to comments over the weekend as well as post some new things. The subjects of my work just want to be sure they get fed on time.

________________________

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.


Daily Sketch: Resting, Spring Afternoon

two cats in watercolor

Resting, Spring Afternoon, watercolor pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Hmmm, testing some new/old watercolor pencils found in a box of stuff, not sure but they might be ready to retire. These weren’t quite the colors I was expecting, some blended nicely, others ended up with a lot of scribbling.

Nice composition, though, always nice when Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine settle together to look out the window and watch the birds on a spring afternoon.

Maybe I like it in black and white. This way you can see the underlying sketch, the tones intended to create the shapes, and the overall composition.

grayscale version of two cats

Same as above, converted to grayscale in PhotoShop.

________________________

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.


The Eye Model

black cat eyes

Giuseppe looks at you.

Surely, if there are such things as a “hand model” whose lovely hands are used to show off fine jewelry and accessories there can also be an “eye model”.

black cat looking up

Giuseppe models the ultra-cool expression.

In humans I guess these would model eyewear, but in cats? Well, I guess they’d model themselves. Surely they don’t need any accessories or improvement.

black cat closeup

Giuseppe gazing off in deep ponderation.

Not Giuseppe, with those deep-set intense eyes. He doesn’t see how anyone would even notice any unnecessary accessory when one would look at his eyes. After all, those were what beguiled the lovely and mature Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite, causing her to immediately cause her mama to send the prophetic magic message, Miss Daisy is smitten!

photo of black cat

"Giuseppe"

Click here to read the original story of the overly operatically melodramatic castrati Giuseppe Verdi and the French-Canadian Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite, ebony princess of the town of Kings in Ontario. He is looking forward to his package of photos of the emerald-eyed Queen of Kingston!

Read more about the long-distance feline lovers! This link lists the stories most recent to least recent, so you’ll have to scroll to the end to read about their early courtship.

________________________________

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.


Three-sided Cube: 2011

three black cats in a cube

Three Cat Cube

How many black cats can fit in a cat cube?

Three, if Giuseppe sticks his butt out the back door!

Jelly Bean, down here in the lower left, was in there first, then his mom, Mimi, whose face you can see in the upper right of the opening, was cuddled with him.

Then Giuseppe decided he wanted to be in on the party too, and crawled in as far as he could and laid down, using JB as a pillow; you can see the back of Giuseppe’s head in the middle of the opening.

Poor Mimi had to sit up or be smothered by Giuseppe’s big hug.

This poor cube has only been here for six days and it’s taken a heck of a beating! When it isn’t full of big black cats, it’s being used as a big soccer ball as I find it all over the room, upside down, sideways, and yesterday I found Mr. Sunshine lying on top of it all flattened beneath him. We’ll see how long it can last with this type of treatment.

This was a challenging shot: I could barely get any distance between my lens and the cube, and three black cats meter pretty dark to begin with, then put them inside a red object and it was all I could do to get any detail at all. The flash lit up the cube but darkened the inside, so I had to use light streaming in from the window off to the side. Well worth the dozen shots it took to get one…

This cat cube was donated to my household by one of our tortie buddies who traveled to a certain book signing last April! Also visit The Conscious Cat to read about our the book signing, and if you have a tortie cat—I think many of you do—stop in and read ” ‘Tortitude’, the Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats” and join in the discussion.

________________________________

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.


Puzzle Cats

four black cats on bed

Puzzle cats, because they fit together like puzzle pieces even if one is under the bedspread.

All tucked in with each other, Mimi and her children snoozed on the bed in the early afternoon. From the top at 12:00 is Mimi, at about 4:00 is Mewsette, at 6:00 is Mr. Sunshine and at about the 10:00 position is Jelly Bean. The lump under the bedspread at the very bottom is Giuseppe being used as a pillow by Mr. Sunshine.

Below…”What are you looking at? We are going to finish our nap.” The three siblings, four if you count Giuseppe under the bedspread, are never so close in personality as when they awaken from a nap together—they’ll often sit up and look at me in nearly the same position, ears and eyes and heads all angled the same, or very nearly so. Mama Mimi is not in step with her children, and that is okay for the matriarch of the family. But they did get up after this and I finally managed to make the bed.

four black cats on bed

They kind of remind me of meerkats or baby possums all lined up on their mother.

______________________________

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.


Sunrise: 2011

two black cats by sunny window

Sunrise

One of my absolute, all-time favorite photos, enjoying the quiet, beautiful space they are in.

Giuseppe watches the yard, Jelly Bean soaks it in at the upstairs window facing east.

These sunny spring mornings have been intoxicating for all of us. In the rush to get breakfast and clean up and play and get to work, we all pause when we find ourselves in a sunny spot and simply appreciate the gift of the sun’s warmth and the promise of more beautiful days to come. The rounded mirror in the background brings to mind the rising of the sun over the horizon.

And while I love to look at their beautiful faces as they look back at me in photos, I usually prefer the more candid shot as they do what they do and I am only an observer, trying my best not to influence their actions.

This photo, like all the others, was originally a color photo, though because of the dramatic contrast with the sunlight I knew I’d probably convert it to black and white in PhotoShop to mimic the effect of a true black and white shot. Removing the distraction of color allows the eye to notice the tracery of sunlight on whiskers against rich black fur, and the delicate shapes of the wild rose branches on the wall above.

But I didn’t like it as a black and white shot; there were just wasn’t enough interest in the darker areas and aside from the left edge it just looked murky.

So that meant I got to play around with a few other techniques I use now and then. In this case I was still desaturating, which converts color information into grayscale, keeping the richness of the detail, but this time, not all the way so that a bit of color remained to add interest and dimension. The cabinet looks like a very pale pine, Jelly Bean retains some of the warm mahogany in his fur, a trace of green remains in Giuseppe’s eyes, the antique gold mirror frame still has a gold tinge to it. The only two cool colors, the tired old snake plant and the plant pot between the two boys, retain some of their original gray green and turquoise, but not so much that they call attention to themselves. Overall, the photo retains a tinge of the warm yellow morning sun.

I initially cropped down farther, right above the top edge of the mirror, to bring the focus on the two cats, but the image lost the airy look of the sun-filled space, and one of the things I liked about the original photo was the organic shape of the rose branches against the wall at the top. I recropped it to include this and once again found that feeling of a larger, open space, and the extra element of detail lightened up the heavier shapes of the cats, the cabinet, even the mirror. The only thing I don’t care for, and one of the other reasons I had originally cropped down so far, was that I don’t like the glass globe at the top of the photo; I find it distracting, but not as distracting as cropping too far down.

Feedback

I hope you enjoy my notes on photography and PhotoShop techniques. Occasionally I get the chance to teach a class in manipulating photos for design and layout, but I also remember learning quite a bit from generous people who shared their techniques with the world in various venues, even before the internet.

And as I plan one or two or three new sets of greeting cards featuring color photos, black and white photos of my cats and all black cats, and photos for sale and imprint on garments and useful things in the coming year, I value any feedback I get from social networking of my cats. I hope to narrow it down some time to set up galleries so readers can vote, but until then I still need help in narrowing down!

Sure, I never got around to the project mentioned above, but I still appreciate your feedback on photos. I do need to get around to those sets of photo cards someday…

________________________________

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.


Daily Sketch: Brotherly Time

pencil sketch of two cats

Brotherly Time, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Mr. Sunshine was having a nice complete bath and that was a good sketch on its own. Then Giuseppe, who has the be a part of everything, came over and initially crouched near Sunshine, waiting to be noticed, then they were licking each others’ faces so nicely—you can actually see Giuseppe’s partial outline as I quickly penciled him in.

Then Giuseppe sat up and looked at me, then he turned around and looked out the window on the other side of my desk. I waited for him to crouch back down, but I guess this was the pose he wanted.

At the same time, Sunshine methodically licked his chest and belly.

When I got the sketch done, Giuseppe turned around and settled his shoulder against Sunshine’s hip, and I liked that too, so I did a quick sketch in watercolor pencil, to be finished later.

Got a bunch of photos too. Not bad for just a few minutes of brotherly time.

________________________

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.