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.

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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.


My Feline- and Nature-themed Stuff at “The Barn”

old barn with garden items

The Outlet Barn in October 2011.

So who would think a drafty old unheated honest-to-God barn from a long-time farm would be a hot spot for unique art and decorative items?

The Outlet Barn Garden and Art Center has been in business in this very same old barn for the past 15 years, with a list of loyal customers and new people stopping every day. They close on Christmas Eve and reopen on April 1, weather permitting, so I’ve moved cards and merchandise into the place and we decided on a few more things as well.

My display of feline greeting cards and notecards is in place, and with them are my garden-inspired greeting cards and notecards inspired by nature and My Home Town, all of which did quite well in the short time they were there last holiday season. In addition I have a selection of small feline and nature photos and prints in small displays and scattered throughout, and we decided today that I’d bring in a few larger prints and see how they went before bringing in more. This is also a home for crocheted washcloths, and likely a home for other handmade items that I have been planning—that painted furniture and decorative household items such as coasters and trivet tiles made from art and sketches.

two painted cat sculptures

The small and large Shelf Cats, in red and blue.

And even as I was unpacking and setting up it was hard not to start browsing! I began visiting there because the place looked like the sort of place I’d like to check out, not carefully coiffed or neatly arranged, but artfully arranged and colorful outside, and inside just crowded enough in the semi-darkness of the old barn that I could take my time to peruse without feeling overwhelmed.

I ended up moving things into there because the former manager of the Agway I had been selling at was friends with Kathy, The Barn’s owner, and simply went to her and said I’d be over with my things, she’d like them and me. Life should be filled with such friends.

painted cat sculpture

The orange Shelf Cat.

Kathy herself is the one who artfully arranges things in a way that makes people passing on the road find it hard to resist, and is also a master with ribbon and grapevines and such and creates all the wreaths and swags sold throughout the year, often custom-making them for long-time customers. She also makes beaded jewelry for sale in the shop.

She also plans the events with local musicians playing jazz and folk and alternative in among the gargoyles and gazing globes, or out back in one of the sample gazebos.

chocolate lab

Irish Malarkey greeting me at my car.

And I can’t forget the enthusiastic rescued chocolate lab named Irish Malarkey, named so because his eyes were green when he was a puppy, who rides in with his human every day. He carefully checked each of my boxes for treats, in between trotting around the place with that huge destructive lab tail without overturning as much as a small terra cotta flowerpot.

gargoyles

Gargoyle selection from last fall.

Supporting a local small business is important from both standpoints, from buying and selling, so in addition to placing my things there on consignment, I also promote the places where my things are consigned. I’ll share notices of events, which will be of greatest interest to local friends, and also of things I find there that you might enjoy—feline-themed of course, like the shelf cats pictured here, and the bunny planter. But there plenty of animal-themed things about the place, plus really cool gargoyles.

terra cotta bunny pot

Bunny-shaped terra cotta pot from Mexican artisans.

I have a love-hate relationship with retail. I love to create my artwork and even to create the derivative items from it like cards and notepads and prints, and the best way to get my artwork known is to create and sell these things, but it takes time to drive around and visit shops, introduce myself, deliver the goods and maintain a display; if I seem to have disappeared somewhat in the past week or so, this is why. I’ve been calling and driving around, following up suggestions from friends to visit and introduce myself and show a few representative pieces of what I have for sale. I have been in Distinctively Different Decor & More, having moved yet more artwork in last weekend for the open house. This week I was sorting and packing and labeling and preparing merchandise for this move.

The actual sales from this might break even for expenses and time, but the real benefit is in finding new customers and making new friends, and just sharing my inspirations. Finding a shop where I also have other reasons to visit just makes it better.

And there’s another constant—animals and animal rescue. One door closes and another one opens as our friends share us with their friends. It is not a loss and a gain, but simply a change.

If you see merchandise pictured here, whether it’s mine or not, that you are interested in, please follow the link to The Outlet Barn website or let me know. The website is not an online store for things in the shop because there’s just too much, but Kathy will be glad to give you a few details and ship something to you if purchase it with the possible exception of a concrete gargoyle.

Click this link for an archive of articles I’ve written and photos I’ve posted about my favorite Agway store (some are repeated).

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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.


Forget-me-nots, and a Spring-themed Greeting Card

photo of cat behind lace curtain with forget-me-nots

Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things

The forget-me-nots are beginning to bloom as they grow taller more quickly, an inch or two each day, in the pots in the windowbox under my dining room window. Each year when I transplant them from the yard and put the pots in place I remember Sophie and this particular beautiful moment. I’ll always be happy I managed to catch it in a quick little snap on my first tiny digital camera as I left the house one evening in spring several years ago.

Sophie was in one of the windows when I left and when I returned in all seasons, and she always managed to use the curtains to dramatic advantage. This is one of my fondest memories of her, nestled in the creamy lace, and now that she is gone the forget-me-nots have a special meaning for me.

Read more on Portraits of Animals Marketplace…

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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.


Colorful Handprinted Kitty Gift Bags and Totes for Spring

Summery Colors Medium Gift Bags, Tabbies

Summery Colors Medium Gift Bags, Tabbies

When I printed gift bags last year, most were experiments with different styles of bags and especially inks/paints and other media to print the image onto the bag. Some worked, some really did not, but some fell in between. I held them back because they didn’t meet my specifications for printing, but I’ve learned to show others the items I’ve made that weren’t what I envisioned. I’ve found that often others see something entirely different in what I see are flaws, and that’s what happened with these bags.

kitty printed gift bag

Lime and Blue Medium Gift Bag, Kelly's Morning Bath

You may recognize the “Tabbies” designs from my Valentine cards, and I also print “Kelly’s Morning Bath” block prints in whimsical colors and in various combinations. Using colored bags opened up the possibilities, printing tone on tone with a darker pink on a lighter pink, a darker blue on a lighter blue and a rich purple on violet, or contrast or complementary colors.

Like many of my hand-printed items, these were a one-of-a-kind project using styles of bags I had found in wholesale and retail shops. They inspired the ink colors which I mixed on the spot from acrylic paints and printed in an effort to get away from oil-based ink, which smells like tar, in printing in surfaces like this.

Houndstooth trim with turquoise

Houndstooth trim with turquoise, Kelly's Morning Bath.

Unfortunately, the gloss surface resisted the ink, causing puddling in some areas and striations in the coverage where it’s supposed to be solid. That’s what I thought was a failure, but I still liked the overall look of the bag.

But others, not concerned with the printing, liked the overall look.

Block printing is 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.

kitty printed gift bag

Shades of Violet, Large Gift Bag

That’s fine when printing on plain old flat paper, but when it comes to other surfaces, as I am fond of printing on, I always meet up with some challenges.

All these bags and more are available in various colors. You can find all of these bags in my Etsy shop under “Gift Bags”.

Tote Bags

I’ve been experimenting with various iron-ons to see how best to use favorite photographs and artwork featuring the Fantastic Four black cats and portraits of both cats and dogs on canvas bags.

The Natural Canvas Totes

For years I’ve been using several natural canvas bags with artwork printed on them, just picturing my own in its place, especially “After Dinner Nap” and “Peaches and Peonies”. I have two left of my last printing, including “After Dinner Nap”, below.

canvas tote bag with art

Canvas tote bag, "After Dinner Nap"

I decided to add some embellishments to these canvas bags, beginning with dimensional fabric paint and adding borders around the artwork, writing in the title below the piece and my signature, and adding a pattern to the edge of the bag opening. In the future I plan to add buttons and decorative trim, but only after I’ve tried them out to make sure they are washable, don’t catch on your clothing, or easily fall off!

canvas tote bag sophie keeps an eye on things

Canvas tote bag, "Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things"

Once I find a reliable source of canvas tote bags in a size and style I like, I’ll be printing more, including the black bags with black cats, but for now I still welcome spring with these two patterns. Soon enough I’ll include flowers as well!

You can find these printed canvas bags in my Etsy shop.

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Read about more of the things I create that are inspired by my cats in the category “Marketplace”.

And be sure to visit my Etsy shop to see what’s currently available.

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 Custom Daily Photo

matted framed photo of four black cats eating

The Fantastic Four at Four, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

A friend enjoyed one of my daily photos so much he wanted a print for himself!

Of course, it’s less to do with me than it is with the “Fantastic Four at Four”, perfectly lined up and having their birthday breakfast on July 26, 2011, the day they turned four years old.

I actually included the photo (below) in the post about Mimi’s “birthday”, July 29, which is the day she arrived here with the “tiny four” and which has become her nominal birthday since I have no idea when it really is. And the Fantastic Four get enough attention, Mimi deserves her own day for lots of reasons.

four cats eating

Fantastic Four eating breakfast on the big day: Jelly Bean, Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine and Mewsette.

This was kind of staged—they don’t normally eat up there, and they don’t normally eat dry food, but just to get a shot of them all lined up I used bowls of their favorite grain-free dry that I know they all like and, heavens, forced them to eat it! Right. They were lined up as soon as the bowls came out, and if I could only have recorded the purring along with the image…

On seeing the post, a friend said he’d like a print of that photo, and I was thrilled he was interested and also had a few ideas. I play around with these photos and others myself all the time, adjusting colors, adding filters, matting and framing and even printing them on canvas and tote bags and tees and lots of other things as I plan new merchandise and experiment with products and techniques.

I’d also seen this person’s home and remembered a lovely retro scheme of 1950s bold pastels like pink and yellow and sky blue and mint green along with brushed and bright chrome (especially that totally cool chrome chandelier with the pastel ceramic cups and saucers as the light fixtures), and along with asking what size he’d like it I offered to mat and frame it. I was picturing the photo in black and white instead of color, a bright or brushed chrome frame in a particular retro style, and a white mat with a colored liner, mint green—for the Four and their favorite sink—or pink since the color was often used in the room.

I described this to him, and to my surprise he had the same sort of thing in mind. I am sometimes fortunate when a customer and I have the same idea for their custom piece, but his went pretty far into the actual details of the idea. But I knew I could move forward with the confidence that in the end he wouldn’t receive his artwork (he is not local and would not see it as I was working on it) and ask me what I was thinking when I put this together…

So that was the plan. He gave me the size for the area it would go, I planned out the size of the frame and mat and print and put it together. The frame size of the finished piece is 11.5″ x 24.5″, the image is 6.5″ x 19.5″.

black and white photo of four cats eating

The Fantastic Four, the final version of the photo.

When black and white photos are printed through a color printing machine, as most of us have our prints made now, you’ll see a slight color cast that varies for many reasons, from the content of your own file to the machine that prints them. It’s not always noticeable until you put it with another color, and in this case when I cut the mat and looked at the print next to the pink, it looked a less-than-attractive dull green. I filled the photo just 3% pink and readjusted the brightest highlights back to white and it worked perfectly with the mat.

I just love knowing that my cats are out there being enjoyed by other people. One of these days I hope to have an actual studio where shots like this will be even easier, especially if I use the right cat food, but for now the candid daily shots are also very much enjoyed.

And they serve their purpose for me as well as a daily creative exercise: take usable photos, choose only one, prepare it for view, give it a title and write something about it that others will enjoy—without taking all day! Much of what I do is commercial art, planned by myself and customers and I don’t get the chance to do much that’s extemporaneous, or find the need to come up with ideas, headlines text and images on the spot as I used to when working in advertising. It helps to keep my design senses sharp for everything I do during the day.

So if you see a daily photo—or sketch—that you particularly like, just ask and we’ll plan something special.

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Read about more of the things I create that are inspired by my cats in the category “Marketplace”.

To see more daily photos and sketches go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or “Daily Sketches” or choose from the categories below that to see photos and sketches of black cats or tortie cats.

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 Spring Kitten

hand-tinted block print of a white kitten on a branch with flowers

The Spring Kitten, hand-tinted block print © B.E. Kazmarski

I once had a pure white long-haired kitty with pea green eyes and a pink nose named Sally. She was also completely deaf, and completely fearless; without distraction, she lived in her own little world, full of sleep and joy and play. She was the inspiration for many sketches, paintings and photos, and for this little piece as well.

detail of hand-tinted block print
Detail of hand-tinted block print.

Almost everywhere I’ve lived there has been a quince bush, an old-fashioned favorite for its early bright pink flowers—so early, in fact, that the bush in my neighbor’s yard in the years when Sally was young bloomed every year during the January thaw, and then snow would fall on the bright pink blooms, nestling in the curve of the branches like Sally when she’d found a good cozy spot.

detail of block print
Detail of block print.

The style of this design was inspired after studying and practicing many illustration traditions, from Asian-inspired block prints and brush paintings to metal and wood etchings and block prints used for books and periodicals. My reference photo (which I kept) shows the branch with the flowers against a brilliant blue sky, and a soft little pile of snow in the angle which became the sleeping kitten.

linoleum block print of white kitten on branch
The Spring Kitten, block print © B.E. Kazmarski

Also inspired by the idea of a book illustration, it’s just a little thing, image is 5″ x 3.5″, with mat and frame outside dimensions 10″ x 8″.

I offer a framed hand-tinted print on Etsy, and the other variations listed below in the Marketplace on my website.

Print only, $15
Hand-colored print, $25
Matted and framed, no color, $30
Matted and framed, hand-colored, $40

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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 Artist’s Life: Still Inspiring

Cookie, "The Goddess" block print © B.E. Kazmarski

In the last two months Cookie was with me I suddenly had orders for the t-shirt and print with this image, both directly to me and from wholesale customers, even customized versions of them. I will always think of this as a great sendoff for her, this favorite image immortalizing her and traveling out all over the world. And, of course, came the stories of the favorite torties who had led people to Cookie’s image.

The interesting part was that I didn’t actually have any prints or tees for sale at the time—none listed on Etsy or even on my website, though I had the image displayed as I always do. These people made special requests, checking to see if I had any or when I would have tees or prints. So I got busy and made up more of them to fill all the orders, and then made up more again, happily spending time with this image that is a favorite of mine, and in all that printing and painting it helped me have happy and positive thoughts about Cookie.

So in this article I have stories of Cookie and her inspiration, of the tortie lovers inspired by The Goddess including lovely photos of them, and I explain how I developed the hand-painted print including a little bit about block printing and testing fabric swatches, plus the new things I’m designing around my tortie girls as they continue to inspire.

In the studio

cat sleeping in rag basket

Cookie in her favorite bed, my rag basket in the studio, from October 2011.

Cookie always loved to be near me when I worked and she loved the “new” studio, heading there every day in her last few months for her long daily nap in the rag basket as you see in this photo; this was also a sketch in the months before I began posting them and a plan for a painting. I just loved to see her there.

The night Cookie died we were all in my studio and I painted new t-shirts for a while in an effort not to be too upset around her; me working on something and her watching me work was a lifelong activity we shared, and in her last few hours was likely a great comfort to her. For me, any creative work in my studio was relaxing and fulfilling and helped me to accept what was happening, and I’ve no doubt it was timed perfectly for me to be done and to catch that last truly conscious moment with her, when she looked into my eyes and put her paw comfortingly on my hand.

Cookie’s portrait

pastel painting of cat looking out sunny door

The Little Sunflower, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Because I paint commissioned portraits, people look for the portraits of my own cats. I will admit that I don’t have portraits of all the cats who’ve lived with me, though I have the missing ones planned.

But Cookie, my studio cat? Well, I painted one of her many years ago called “The Little Sunflower” (you’ll need to scroll down on this link). To anyone else, this may not be recognizable as Cookie, but because I adored this moment when Cookie had a sunbath every sunny morning, I loved her shape and her shadow, and the feeling of joy emanating from her when she quietly sat there, teaching me a lesson in yoga I’d yet to learn, it is the Cookie I took with me every day. In time, this led to her joining me outdoors, and anyone can see what a joy that was for both of us.

But I also have this block print, and while I exaggerated her shape for greater humor—Cookie was well-rounded but she was never that fat—her face, her expression and her markings are all the best portrait of Cookie I could ever have created; farther into this article I have a comparison between my reference photo and the print. After all these years, I still laugh when I look at her, the way a portrait should touch you.

Recent stories

Here are a few of the recent stories from people who contacted me about prints and tees in the past two months and who I thought about as I worked in my studio (authors have given me permission to print).

Rosie from the UK

tortie cat in the grass

Rosie from the United Kingdom

“I found your print of “The Goddess” and think she looks like my cat, Rosie…I live in the UK and was wondering if it was possible to get a print without the frame… If they’re not coloured, would it be possible to get one coloured like Rosie if I sent you a photo? I’m assuming not but thought I’d ask! (Of course I could, and the finished print is below.)

“We got Rosie when I was 11. My dad told me we were going to mum’s boss’s house to pick something up and asked if I wanted to go with him, and as Annie, the boss, had two ginger cats my sisters and I loved to play with I went. When I got there I saw a tiny purring little bundle of fluff and claws and played with her for about an hour. Then dad came in and told me to pick her up, we were going home!

“15 years later, and we’ve moved to another city. Rosie is still going strong, mum had a terrifying moment a few years ago when she felt a lump in Rosie’s belly and [went] to the vets with the instructions to not allow her to be in pain….The vet sent her back with a packet of diet cat food. She’s a wonderful purry old thing, with a beautiful temperament—she had to have one to grow up in a house of 3 little girls and all the neighbourhood kids!

tortoiseshell cat print

Polly as The Goddess

“Whilst we got Rosie as a kitten, Polly is the tortie who holds my heart. She was much more than a cat and was my constant companion for the two years we had her. I adored her, she adored me. Then one night she escaped, and my housemate forgot about her and didn’t let her in. I returned home to find her missing and we spent 4 days looking for her, I was distraught and couldn’t cope without her, but then we got a phone call from the vets, Polly was found by a lovely lady (who was also owned by a tortie – Mitzy) who realised how sick she was and took her to the vets. She lasted 2 days before dying of anti-freeze poisoning.”

Kitty

“This cat on the tee looks so much like my cat “Kitty”. She was a rescue cat..she just showed up at my door, and I took her in. I loved her..she slept with me..back to back, lol. But because of my allergy I needed to give her to a good home. I miss her so much..but it was something I needed to do.”

Kitty’s mom ordered a tee to remember Kitty.

tortoiseshell cat

SadieCat relaxing among the library books.

SadieCat

SadieCat’s mom bought a hand-colored print for herself as a birthday gift.

“…I especially love the pictures of the tortie cats. When I saw the block print of “The Goddess” my heart stopped. Three years ago I rescued a starving little kitten who soon became the love of my life. I couldn’t help myself from attaching a couple of pictures of SadieCat (seen here). Someplace I have a photo where she looks exactly like your print, but I couldn’t find it.

tortoiseshell cat face

Now there's a face!

“[Sadiecat] will only consent to being held when she’s in the mood and she’ll bite if you’re late with her dinner, but I love her and wouldn’t have her any other way. (Well, I could probably do without the biting). And thanks for…putting Sadie out there, I’m too shy. 🙂  She’s shy too, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

Visit the original post, The Goddess Truly Inspires, to read more stories and to add your own.

About creating “The Goddess”

I looked at Cookie on the kitchen floor, on her back with her toes curled, a defiant look on her face, and it happened—that moment of visualization. I could see a linoleum block print in black ink on white rice paper, hand-tinted with oranges and yellows for the patches in Cookie’s tortoiseshell fur and green for her eyes and pink for her nose. I would call the print “The Goddess” for the many women depicted with generous figures in sculpture and painting through the millennia.

Compare the photo and the print:

tortie cat on back

Reference photo for "The Goddess"

Cookie, "The Goddess" block print © B.E. Kazmarski

From the time I first described it to someone, who chuckled at the idea of the image, I knew Cookie was a winner. And through the years she has continued to bring people and stories to my display no matter where I am—everyone knows a cat who looks like Cookie!

cut linoleum block

The full block, of course it's in reverse.

Cookie inspired not only a design, but a particular style and technique and a new element to my creative life and my merchandise. With an inspiration that strong, I probably would have done it anyway, but I had other reasons as well. In the late 1990s having my sketches and paintings reproduced was still expensive and not always successful and I wanted artwork that I could reproduce easily and inexpensively myself so that I could have something more affordable than original artwork to sell in my displays.

closeup of linoleum block

Closeup of Cookie's face in linoleum block; the light areas are the smooth surface that holds the ink.

I’d worked with small linoleum block prints for years and always enjoyed the medium, but this time I decided I wanted something larger and I might actually create a series—which led to “The Roundest Eyes” depicting my other tortie, Kelly, a few months later. Between the two, Cookie gets more notice and stories, but Kelly sells more t-shirts and prints…we just never let Cookie know that.

Capturing all Cookie’s freckles and spots and stripes was indeed a challenge, especially when I went to actually cut them out of the surface of the linoleum block.

printed fabrics

I have a lot of painting to do.

New items

colors on fabric

Success! The washed strip of muslin with thinned fabric paints passes the wash and dry test.

Why does this scrap of muslin stained with orange and yellow make me so happy? Because I’ve finally found the new coloring for my Tortie Girls prints!

Because I hand-paint the color into these prints I print them in oil-base ink, even on paper, because water-base ink is totally water soluble, like tempera paint. On paper I can use watercolor, but on the tees and other textiles I have to use a permanent dye of some sort. I want the wearer to be able to wash these without too much fuss, but in order to be able to create and sell them I don’t want to have to wash the fabric to set the dye, then iron the items for presentation, in part because of the oil-base ink and also because washing and ironing is very time-consuming. In creating merchandise for sale I need to strike a balance between my time and materials and what I charge for a product.

Years ago I found a cold-set dye that I could paint on just like my watercolors. I mixed it up about ten years ago and kept it in an airtight glass jar in the dark, but I’m nearly out of it. I created the tees mentioned above because tees are popular, but I’m not a t-shirt person so I’ve also printed a slew of other textiles through the years. Last year I printed the placemats, table coverings and even pillowcovers and appliques for bags you see above, but did not have enough dye to paint them so they have sat, waiting, since last May.

color swatches on cloth

First color test with drawing ink.

swatches of color

Letting it air dry.

washed cloth

Fail!

After several tries with drawing ink, above—which stains everything it touches and won’t wash out when you want it to, but washed right out when I tested it—various fabric dye substances including full-strength from the bottle and a strong mix of powder in various brands, and various paints and markers, none could both look like washy watercolors and stand up to the wash test.

color swatches on fabric

Second color test.

fabrics

Second color test air drying.

faded colors on fabric

Second fail! Not as bad as the first.

Until now, using Jacquard fabric paint and screen-print ink. And now I can follow through with all the new products I’d planned last year featuring The Goddess and the little girl with The Roundest Eyes—you’ll see them soon.

two black cats with art materials

As always, Feline Inspection and Quality Control; Mewsette and Jelly Bean have to approve as well.

Above are square muslin tablecloths to be painted and either hemmed or with a decorative stitch added around the edge and fringed, canvas placemats to be painted and possibly stitched, and simply printed squares of muslin ready to be painting and stitched onto bags, pillows, even clothing.

I love to know that I’m sharing Cookie forever with the block print of her, and while some day I’ll do the painting I’m visualizing as well as other paintings of her with other cats, this block print will always be the image I remember.

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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.