Closing the Shop, but Expanding Online

photo of gift shop

View of about half my shop, art, greeting cards and even a few crocheted things.

After two years in my room in Carnegie Antiques, I’ll be moving out, fitting everything somewhere in this little house and expanding what I’ve always offered online.

It’s always been difficult to be two places at once, and in addition to keeping merchandise in the shop and being there one afternoon a week, I am also here at my home to make and package and prepare the things, play with my kitties and keep up with The Creative Cat—in addition to being self-employed as a freelance commercial artist!

sign with balloons and flowers

The sign that features Cookie.

I love sharing my art and merchandise for my online community through my Marketplace blog, in my online Marketplace on my website and in my Etsy shop, but I really love being out in the public with my things, talking to people at festivals and events, talking about my work, collecting stories, seeing what other artists are doing, getting direct feedback and personally thanking the people who decided to buy something from me.

Though I wasn’t selling antiques or even vintage items, my room was in Carnegie Antiques Carnegie, just a few blocks from where I live. The owner, the generous and multi-talented Judi Stadler, is a friend of mine, and through her set of businesses, including both Carnegie Antiques and J.D. Llama Estate Sales and Appraisals, is one of my customers for design and promotion. I actually designed her website and photographed all the items on it, and I visited regularly for gift items and especially that special vintage necklace or earrings to match one of my outfits. And while I spent my weekly shift in the shop I loved wandering among the vintage items and learning about them.

judi with cookie

Cookie greets Aunt Judi.

Judi’s business at the shop has increased and she has been expanding and she can certainly use the space. We discussed reorganizing, and I had begun to prepare for that in February. But after considering and deciding that since my things weren’t moving as well in the past year, and weren’t really in keeping with the rest of what she offered, along with the occasional difficulty of my being there and not home working, I would move my things home.

I will miss, especially, the memory of Cookie as my shop cat who thoroughly enjoyed acting as Queen and greeter of all visitors, but mostly she just wanted to be with me. Through the years I’ve often seen that woebegone “Don’t go,” expression on my cats when I’ve put my hand on the doorknob, but when I looked at Cookie it was, “Take me with you.” And so I did, despite the fact that she was 17 years old and had some difficulty walking, and I had to be careful with her fluid intake even then.

tortie cat in front window

"I'm so pretty, I'll bet all sorts of customers will come in today just to see me."

She really only had the chance to accompany me about a dozen times in those two years since it was too cold in the winter to take her out, and I often had errands before and after my hours at the shop. But she really loved every minute of the special time we spent together there, just the two of us, doing something I enjoyed, and she enjoyed with me because she was my friend. She will always be with me in this venture, wherever it goes.

So all my greeting cards, note cards and writing paper, small and medium framed and unframed prints of my artwork and photographs, block prints, block-printed t-shirts and other textiles, tote bags and gift bags and anything else I find the time and space to create are now here, and all the cats are having a great time climbing all over all the boxes. There’s actually quite a bit of merchandise that I haven’t posted in my Etsy shop or on my website that you’ll soon be seeing in posts on The Creative Cat and Portraits of Animals Marketplace, and much of it will be available right here on The Creative Cat as I complete my redesign.

I my “other life” when I’m not blogging about cats and posting daily photos and creating artwork I’m a “visual designer” creating print and web products and layouts; this is pretty much what I’ve done all day long for almost 30 years; you can read more about this on my website in Graphic Design and Illustration. My dream has always been to slip farther away from graphic design and open a real bricks and mortar gallery named “Portraits of Animals” featuring my artwork inspired by animals and nature and also featuring and showing the art of others inspired by animals, and by focusing more of my efforts on the internet for now I hope to be able to do that in a few years.

You can always visit my Marketplace blog, my online Marketplace and my shop on Etsy. While Stanley has always been the symbol of Portraits of Animals because his portrait inspired it, Cookie was the feline who watched over my shop. Cookie says, “Visit, or else!”

photo of shop sign

Cookie says, "Visit, or else!"


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.


A “Reorganization Sale” at Portraits of Animals at Carnegie Antiques

photo of gift shop

View of about half my shop, art, greeting cards and even a few crocheted things.

In the next few weeks I’ll be completely reorganizing my shop in Carnegie Antiques, taking home things that haven’t shown any interest and heaping up things that have, moving furniture in and out and restocking with new framed art and packaged sets of cards.

matted black and white photo of feverfew

Feverfiew Field, matted black and white photo © B.E. Kazmarski

The sale will be this Saturday, February 18, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

I’ve moved my greeting card printing to a new printer who uses new paper stock which doesn’t match the older stock. Select individual greeting cards will be $1.00 each, reduced from $2.50.

All matted photos are $2.50, reduced from $5.00.

Everything else is 10% off the price that is marked including other individual greeting cards and sets, crocheted pawprints and flowers, tote bags, framed and unframed wildlife, nature and flowers prints and anything else you can find there.

Carnegie Antiques outside

What you're looking for on West Main Street.

Carnegie Antiques and Portraits of Animals are located at 423 West Main Street in Carnegie, PA 15106.

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.


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.

An Open House and a Special Deal for Readers

view of my shop

View of about half my shop, art, greeting cards and note cards.

Judi and I will join forces and open early, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and will both have discounts for visitors!

I’m offering 10% off your entire order of items from my Portraits of Animals shop including greeting cards, crocheted pawprints, tee-shirts, tote bags, unframed prints and anything else you can find there.

As a bonus, I’m offering 25% off framed artwork over $25.00, both originals and prints! I’ve been framing even more prints of my feline, wildlife and nature art as well as photographs, including views of Pittsburgh. I’ll be bringing in a few originals as well, so if you’ve had your eye on something, now is the time to get it! If the cost is less than $25, the 10% discount still applies.

You can see a good bit of what’s in my shop in my Etsy shop. And for recipients of this post who can’t make it to the open house, I’ll also extend FREE SHIPPING for any items in my Etsy shop through the end of October. It will be as if you bought it in person! Enter “OPENHOUSE1011″ in your shopping cart and it will automatically deduct the shipping before you pay your bill.

Carnegie Antiques

In addition, Judi has been packing her shop with so much new merchandise I can hardly keep track of it all, and she’ll be offering discounts as well. There’s new furniture large and small, sets of dishes, hand-painted china, novelties, jewelry and more. Make sure you take time to visit Carnegie Antiques too!

Carnegie Antiques and Portraits of Animals are located at 423 West Main Street in Carnegie, PA 15106.

We Really Are Helping Our Friends in Japan!

So far six Torti Girls tees sold to help animals in Japan! That’s a donation of $75! I still have six tees left, and it would be so nice to make a donation of $150! I’m donating to either Animal Refuge Kansai (if I can convert dollars to yen correctly), or to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support.

Painting by Kuniyoshi Utagawa

The Japanese people are legendarily fond of cats, have been through history. In every stage of art in their culture you’ll find felines of all stripes and spots and solids depicted in paintings happily ensconced in homes, walking about the estate, in sculptures curled in sleep and famously with one paw lifted welcoming you to the garden. More than a few of these kitties are calico or tortoiseshell as “red” is a favorite and highly symbolic color.

And, often, in the background of the painting you’ll see the ocean, as it is in the background of their lives every day. Obviously, being a chain of islands, the ocean, what it gives and what it takes, is a constant presence in the lives of the Japanese, and with it the cultural knowledge of the ocean’s destructive power. (See a little more art like that at left here).

We witnessed that power on March 11 as an earthquake shook the land at Sendai, creating a tsunami that slammed into the eastern coastline. Remembering from the 2004 tsunami and the Haiti and Chile earthquakes as well as other natural disasters, we won’t know the full toll for days or weeks.

In Japan, wherever there are people, there are cats, beloved pets, and where pets are not allowed there are Cat Cafes where cats live to be visited by customers who drink tea and pet kitties. And tragically the earthquake’s epicenter was about 60 miles from Cat Island, a haven for the elderly and for many stray cats who are fed and cherished by all residents. To date we’ve heard that Cat Island had a good bit of damage and supplies are needed, but the island also has a good bit of high ground so hopefully people and cats could escape the tsunami.

My Tortie Girls Go to Japan

detail of "the goddess" face

Detail of "The Goddess"

detail of the roundest eyes block print

Detail of "The Roundest Eyes"

Through one of my wholesale customers, many of my Tortie Cats t-shirts have shipped off to customers in Japan. Considering their love of cats, this is not surprising.

Also considering the tradition of block printing, or relief printing with wood, in Japan, especially hand-colored prints, this seems like a natural combination. After all, where do you think I first saw this technique, and years later decided to render my girls’ portraits in this medium?

Donate to Animal Refuge Kansai for the Animals of Japan

I will donate half of the selling price to Animal Refuge Kansai from sales of my t-shirts and framed block prints sold in a set or individually. I have limited stock, in part because I always wait for warmer weather to print these shirts and prints:

Read below more about block printing and about these prints, and visit my Etsy shop to purchase. Also visit The Conscious Cat to find other opportunities to donate and help all animals in Japan after this devastating disaster.

Inspired by my felines

I am unendingly inspired by my houseful of felines, especially those two tortoiseshell calicos. I print these by hand from a hand-cut linoleum block, then each individually is hand-painted in watercolor.

“The Goddess”
Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Goddess

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Roundest Eyes

Each image is 8″ x 12″, with mat and frame outside dimensions 14″ x 18″, horizontal or vertical as shown in the photo.

Find the girls in my Etsy shop under “Prints”.

I have also printed the girls on white t-shirts. You can also find these in my Etsy shop under T-shirts or in the Marketplace on my website under Apparel>Block Printed Tees.

About Block Printing

I really enjoy working in this medium and I can free myself from the traditional media and a greater realism in rendering. Linoleum block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of artist’s 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.

The resulting work isn’t a one-time thing, but meant to be printed multiple times–and I do, on just about anything I can think of. They all start out on paper, but they’ve been printed on t-shirts and dresses and aprons and curtains, to name a few things. I will sometimes add color to them with watercolor or dyes to give them extra interest. The resulting work, even though they are all printed from the same block, is a unique print, still handmade by the artist.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage is not always perfect. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art.

I’m NOT an Antique!

tortie cat in shop window

I'm so beautiful, I'm sure you'd like to come in and pet me!

For your information, I’m sitting here in the antique shop window because I’m WORKING, I’m NOT FOR SALE!

I may be a senior kitty, but that only means I should get respect, not jokes! Why doesn’t somebody move this duck?!

Cookie went to work in the shop with me yesterday, and she wrote all about it (with mom’s help).

I just love what shadows and reflections do in the shop window!

Move Over IKEA Cats, Cookie’s Back in the Shop

tortie cat in front window

"I'm so pretty, I'll bet all sorts of customers will come in today just to see me."

While I had enjoyed Cookie’s company in my Portraits of Animals shop room at Carnegie Antiques through the spring, summer was hot and busy, and Peaches needed Cookie’s company too, so Cookie has had to stay home all these months. Yesterday, she gave me the look and I decided I’d love to have her company down there again.

blur of cat

Cookie was a whirlwind as soon as she got there.

It’s good to be back! I hated the ride in the pink thing and I really let my mom know about it, but once we got here I knew exactly where I was and I got right to work.

Who needs those fancy IKEA cats—I can run around and jump on things as well as any kitty, and I don’t have to share it with 99 others!

Mom could hardly keep up with me—I went trotting all over the shop and told her all about everything I saw!

tortie cat on chair

Cookie is definitely cuter than the doll.

I’m exploring the store today, especially all the comfy chairs and those nice wool rugs.

I’m prettier than this ugly doll, and don’t you think I deserve to sit on a velvet chair?

I have to be sure to inspect things from all possible angles and try things out. How else can I make a recommendation to a customer?

tortie on native patterned carpet

Cookie tries out the earth tones.

Let’s see how I look on this Native American patterned carpet — it feels nice, and it matches my colors.

cat at top of steps

Cookie is an employee too.

I had to reacquaint myself with all the nooks and crannies, open all the doors and check in all the closets.

You see that “Employees Only” sign? That means me!

cat on chairs

This chair is nice, but I have to try them all.

First I have to try each of these three chairs, then I have to explore the shelves of china to make sure there’s no dust or stinkbugs up there.

Hmmm, Chair No. 1 wasn’t quite right, let’s try Chair No. 2.

cookie in the red chair

Cookie looks very regal.

So many chairs, so little time! I like the ones best that are low to the ground so I can jump up easier—and all the better that they are covered in velvet with nice comfy velvet pillows to snuggle!

tortie cat in wicker rocker

This chair is "just right"!

Finally, a chair that’s just my size—and what kitty doesn’t love wicker?! Plus, it’s right in front of the “fireplace” where the little gas heater keeps it warm.

cookie greets a customer

Cookie greets a customer.

Oh, my first customer! I have to greet her!

Everyone has to get a little tortie fur on their ankles.

cat sleeping on chair

Time for a nap.

Whew! I’ve worked hard! Now it’s time for a big bath and a nap! I’ll just sleep behind the counter where I can look out the window and see if anyone is coming.

I can get up right away when a customer comes in!

cat in shop window

Cookie watches our last customer leave.

I may be 18, but I can still tiptoe through the knicknacks without moving a single one!

I hope we get to come back next week!

Y’all come back now, y’hear?!

Portraits of Animals Shop Has New Hours

shop left corner

Colorful gift bags take center stage.

I’ll now be at my shop on Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in Carnegie Antiques, 423 West Main Street, Carnegie.

Today I’m looking forward to reorganizing the space with new artwork, some extra lighting and perhaps even some seasonal decorations! I’ll also be setting up a more formal display of portraiture with a few samples of dog and cat portraits.

Read more about it on my Portraits of Animals blog.