A Visiting Artist

man with black cat

Chaz visits, looking for hidden cats

Giuseppe makes sure he gets ALL the attention from our visitor. Perhaps he wants to be sketched by Chaz and have other black kitties hidden in him?

I featured Chaz a few months ago in Creating With Cats. He has had hidden animal drawings featuring cats for years (guy knows what’s good for him, featuring cats first, and in more than one drawing), but he also showed me a few hidden dog drawings in different breeds he’ll be featuring at the upcoming dog show and they are very clever, I really liked them, especially the Boxer.

Chaz is working on a new idea for his hidden-animal ink sketches and stopped over for me to help him set up the art for the project. While I had my hands and attention on the keyboard, Mimi, Jelly Bean and Mr. Sunshine all twirled around acting as cute as could be and got their share of attention, but Giuseppe decided to get on Chaz’s lap, thereby being closest to both hands.

Being on the road with shows most of the year, Chaz doesn’t have any pets of his own, but the big ginger neighborhood cat, Sammie, stops by for a visit every so often, hangs out for a while, then asks to go back outside. It looked to me as if he was used to petting cats all day long.

So will we see hidden black kitties in Chaz’s next drawings? Guess we’ll have to see! If so, perhaps I’ll feature those nice dog drawings and a few other new animals…


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 Artists’s Life: A Day in the Studio, With Cats

five cats in studio

The Curious Quartet joins Cookie in getting ready for a day of work.

My Sunday in the studio ran overtime yesterday just because I was in the mood and didn’t want to stop—and had such feline assistance and inspiration I may have gone all night but for the need for feline dinners. Cats in my studio are both an asset and a liability, but especially now that I’ve finally committed my 8′ x 10′ spare bedroom for art activities we can all find a comfortable place in the drama.

tortie cat on table

Cookie chooses the spot where she is sure to get the most attention.

My cats like to join in anything I do even if it’s laundry or cleaning the bathroom—they just enjoy activity, especially when I’m putting on the show. But more than that, being the sensitive creatures they are and reacting to my joys and sorrows, they are just as aware of my state of being and love being near me when I’m at my creative work.

Just looking at my cats has long been an inspiration even before I began drawing them, or anything at all for that matter. Fluid motion, graceful shapes, that particular self-possession which enables me to observe without interacting all feed my aesthetic senses, and add to this the interactions of a household of cats with each other, with the space and with me, and it’s a feast for my senses. For years I’ve begun each day with a photo session and a sketch or two as a warm-up to a day of graphic design, awakening my senses to shapes and colors and composition, this inspired by watching my cats and eventually including activities in the garden. Through the day they continue to be their graceful little selves and so I continue photographing them and enjoying the visual and physical breaks they give me during the day.

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Creating With Cats: An Unintentional Life’s Work

"Cat's Tale", ink drawing by Chaz Letzkus

If you are of a certain age you will …well, you may remember the rock group “Santana” and the cover of their eponymous album, “Santana”. This cover featured an ink line drawing of a roaring lion which, on closer inspection, was actually composed of sketches of many other subjects worked together to create the features of the lion’s face and mane. You’ll just have to look it up, because any further description ruins the surprise.

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Laboring At What We Love

portrait on easel

Portrait in Progress.

You hear about me and my work all the time, but I also try to give credit where credit is due—to my feline family, who through the years have always worked just as hard as me…in their own way. But as I constantly reiterate, they were my inspiration for art, and I might not be where I am today if not for them, showing and selling my art was the basis for my business plan for self-employment along with commercial art, and being able to be at home with them, especially as my first group grew older, was one of the decision points in actually deciding when to take the plunge.

(Kelly adds this, “9+**************366666……”. Go figure.)

You can find the portrait above, “Ripley, Murphy, O.G., Veda and Missy Kitty”, in progress and finished on my Portrait Demonstration page.

And below, I’ve pasted a few posts of my cats at work with links to others. We are busy today as I prepare for an upcoming month of events!

Ready for Work

two torties in studio

Tortie Girls reporting for work.

My studio supervisors arrive at work before me! I’m working on starting the day in my studio when my eyes are rested and I have daylight to work with instead of ending it there and working too late into the night.

My tortie girls agree! They’ve been staying up all night with me for more years than they want to remember—after all, they have to supervise me or how could I get any artwork done? The most important role they serve is sleeping on my lap or next to my feet so that I need to stay put and therefore get work done. One would never get up or move while a cat is sleeping.

The younger ones have something to learn from keeping me under control, perhaps someday one of them will show some potential.

Cookie has had a lifelong role in what I do, and this will clarify what she does: I Will Never Get to Retire.


And Then I Gave Up Work for the Day

four black cats on desk

Maybe she'll notice us now.

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.

I also admit I posted this nearly two years ago, but it’s still appropriate today, as is the text below. The one thing I’d add is two torties on my lap, and Mimi on my keyboard shelf. I have been busy, and I’ve missed sharing a lot of photos.

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

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. 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.


My Tenth Anniversary

desk with six cats

Desk with Six Cats; sometimes my office is not so beautiful! From left it is Stanley, Sophie, Kelly, Namir, Cookie and Peaches. Only Cookie and Kelly are still with me, but still working hard.

Ten years ago today, January 1, 2000, I fulfilled a dream I had worked a decade to reach when, for the first time in forever, I stayed home to go to work. Even considering the wild ride this past decade has been, I wouldn’t reconsider my decision. I love everything I’ve had the chance to do, all the people I’ve met, and all the businesses and organizations I’ve helped to succeed. In return they’ve helped me, too, as every assignment has also been a lesson, and every accomplishment another level of confidence and credibility.

Needless to say, my cats also approved of the decision.

I remember the 1990s after I had bought my little house and done a good bit of fixing-up, and all I wanted to do was stay here and enjoy what I’d accomplished so far. When I left for work each day I’d stop at the door and look at this room with its new windows, new paint, my art on the walls and carry that vision with me as I left for another day of unknown length and content working as a typesetter for a direct mail company.

[Read more as I describe my work history and working at home with my cats]


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!

[Read all about Cookie’s adventures with links to other her trips to the shop.]


Peaches Has Her Interview

photo of peaches looking at me

"Go do something else."

Oh, my! I’ve been waiting ALL DAY for my mom to leave the computer. Eva posted a comment on my blog post last night, and I even sat on my mom in bed this morning trying to get-her-up!

We finally got to the computer and I heard her say, “It’s a good day to concentrate and get things done,” something to do with the weather which is out there and I don’t pay any attention to it, but she barely left her seat for long enough for me to grab a snack and get back before her.

Read more, including a link to Peaches’ decision to apply and her application! Peaches Applies for a Job


Happy Labor Day everyone! We are off to work!

My Creative Process on “Buckley’s Story” by Ingrid King

As both an animal artist and photographer and a commercial artist and designer, my cats are my muse, even if they aren’t the subject of my creative endeavor.

ingrid king and amber

Ingrid and Amber

Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story, has featured me again on Buckley’s Story in “The Creative Process” as I get to offer my understanding of how I create a piece of artwork, writing or a poem, and how my cats have been my muse and encouragement all along, even in commercial art.

While you are there, take the time to read about Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher and about Ingrid’s holistic approach to animal wellness, and make sure you visit The Conscious Cat as well.

I met Ingrid King at the Cat Writer’s Association annual conference in November 2009 and heard her speak about her book. From her loss of Buckley, a joyful and affectionate tortoiseshell cat who was diagnosed with heart disease after only two years, came an entire book, written immediately after Buckley’s passing. Since then it has received glowing reviews in the pet and pet loss industries.

image of book cover

Buckley's Story

I featured Ingrid and Buckley’s Story in my series Pet Loss in the First Person in the article entitled “Turning Loss into Creativity with Ingrid King and Buckley’s Story”. Ingrid tells how her career wandered around, forming into a helping, healing profession until Buckley joined, then left her life. She began writing in the midst of her grief, with a goal of having the book available to others by the first anniversary of Buckley’s passing, like a promise kept.