The Messy Playroom

four black kittens in a box

The Sleepy Siblings pack into the box for a nap.

There they are, the littles sleeping in a heap in a box, just like they do today. The event happens to be the day they had their first set of shots, and after tearing around the bathroom with the general excitement of visitors and each of them disappearing and reappearing one by one…well, they managed to get the bathroom like that several times a day. I have several photos of this because this first is a little unclear—these are on film, and the prints aren’t the best, though I have no means of scanning from the negatives at the moment.

The pattern you see in front of them all is really a window screen. The bathroom has a bifold door but I didn’t want to cut the kittens off from the rest of the house by leaving the door closed. I used two tall narrow screens from my old casement windows hinged to the doorframe and opening like shutters so that during the day the kittens could see onto the landing and interact with the rest of the house, and also be cooler since it was August and September.  Mimi could easily jump the screens to get in and out so she had her breaks too.

Mr. Sunshine is hanging out of the box, here at the corner, and you can just see a light spot on his year which is his yellow paint. Giuseppe is behind him with a tiny bit of green paint visible, then Mewsette, then Jelly Bean. They are seven or eight weeks old here. In photos further down you’ll be able to see them better.

four kittens in box

Their faces are a little more clear.

They were sleeping off their shots, so I opened the screen to see them more clearly. Lessons about photographing a bunch of black cats were just beginning as they are almost indistinguishable in the box. The little cardboard toilet paper roll and tissue box are full of toothmarks—I had forgotten how kitten chewed on everything! They had about a dozen toilet paper and paper towel rolls in there, and they and the tissue box were reduced to shreds in the time there.

four kittens in box

The view from above, too sweet.

This print wasn’t very well-printed, and when I lightened it it began to fall apart, but you can see their little faces in the box, Sunshine, Giuseppe, Mewsette and Jelly Bean, and you can see a bit of the white spot on his chest, and the white hairs in his ears that looked like big brushes until he grew into them.

I had always thought about one of the top two as a painting, just a silly colorful kittens’ playroom!

Reference this little heap with yesterday’s cuddle puddle on my desk.

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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.


And then I gave up work for the day…

four black cats on desk

Maybe she’ll notice us now.

The above photo is from 2009, but I like to call it back up each year. Some things never change.

2011: Okay, okay, I admit I’ve been busy, but do you guys like to eat?! Then you’ll keep doing things like this as inspiration.

For now, enjoy somewhat over 50 pounds of black cat on one desk.

2009: They are always doing something unique, that whimsical quartet of siblings, but sometimes they have the right idea. I really was tired, my eyes were strained, I was losing focus at the end of a long day, and one by one the three boys piled up trying to get their point across (we need dinner, you need to stop working), hence the multiple nap. First Giuseppe front and center, paws draped on my keyboard, then Jelly Bean on the left and Mr. Sunshine on the right. Then Mewsette, the big sister, piled on top of all of them and began bathing them all in turn, causing things to start falling off my desk. Still, I could pile papers on top of them and keep working. When the paws and tails expanded onto my keyboard, I decided to take their advice and quit working for the day.

Below is a version from 2012, today in fact, and the only difference is that Mimi is part of the group on the far left so it isn’t quite 50 pounds of black cat, and the other three are Giuseppe, Mewsette and Mr. Sunshine, just continuing yesterday’s heat-induced laziness.

four black cats sleeping on desk.

Four cats on my desk.

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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: Mr. Sunshine’s Blue-green Bath

sketch of cat bathing

Mr. Sunshine's Blue-green Bath, pastel and charcoal © B.E. Kazmarski

The colors don’t correspond to anything, I was just visualizing him this way while I watched him bathe. I did the simple charcoal sketch first, thinking I might just stop at that, but kept seeing the greens and blues and that yellow in this kind of rubbed-in style where the colors are blended together and you can see my swirled fingerprints. It is literally rubbed into the paper (except for what’s on my hands, my desk, Jelly Bean…) so that it loses the character of pastel and looks more like paint.

After I rubbed it in I retraced the sketch to hold the shape. For a while in my early experimentations as an artist I outlined everything, nothing looked complete until it had a black outline on it, and I still like the look of it now and then.

Then he needed to be somewhere so I added the pink and purple and tan in vague angled strokes to indicate vertical and horizontal planes. If I were to work on this yet more, which I might, I’d work orange and burnt orange into the pink, blue into the purple, and light pink into the tan, and rub them in like the blues and greens and yellows.

The drawing paper I use is fairly sturdy and though smooth has a little tooth to it, enough to hold a layer of chalk pastel though I could never add more layers and blend like Kelly in Warm Colors—that is drawn on paper with enough tooth and texture to hold lots of pastel.

I just love their baths, I love the shapes they make, the curves and the overall simplicity of their form, and I also love Mr. Sunshine’s completely relaxed tail and the details of his angled ears, his toes and whiskers.

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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.


Brothers: 2011

two black cats in red cat cube

What did we ever do without the cat cube?

Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine cuddle inside the red cat cube.

It never ceases to amaze me how these two—or any two of these four—can be totally involved in a fur-flying, knock-down, drag-out fight one minute, then cuddling and bathing each other the next. I guess they have these things figured out…

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.


Do You Have to Do That Right Now?

two black cats on desk

"Do you have to do that right now?"

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

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

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

two black cats on desk

"Is this better?"

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

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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.