Daily Sketch: Relaxing

charcoal sketch of two cats

Relaxing, charcoal pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

I’m glad someone got some work done around here today because my cats were all totally useless. So the temperature was a humid 82 degrees in mid-afternoon. I wasn’t lying around like a dishrag! But I did have two or more cats on my desk all day, and still do at this very moment. I guess they wanted me to see how miserable they were.

Mimi sits up for a brief interlude of awakeness in an entire day of sleeping on top of the same pile of mail in nearly the same position all day. For most of the time, Giuseppe used her as a pillow, at which point you couldn’t see too much of her. Giuseppe takes up enough room for two cats and tries to spread himself as far as he can go.

Even in their resting state, unless they are in a deep sleep, they move constantly. Most sketches take me less than five minutes as my goal is to challenge my observation skills and hand-eye coordination and to keep from getting mired down in details. When I sketch them as outlined figures, I rough in their approximate outline, then go from one section to another with harder lines to define the outline. When I have more figures I rough in all of them then define their heads and other features as quickly as possible.

Paws and tails and heads may move in the meantime but the light rough outline keeps me in line and unless they get up and move completely before I have enough detail I’m fine with filling in quickly from that extremely short-term memory that holds an image in my mind clearly, but only for a few minutes before it begins to fade. In this case Mimi had been initially washing her face and her head was curved down much farther and at a different angle. She sat up, so I worked on other areas of the sketch waiting to see if she would go back to washing her face. In this case the short-term memory was holding too much, and there are times when I will put the sketch aside but keep an eye on the cat in question, and even hours later catch them in the same activity and finish the section I need. She never did go back to that position, so I drew her upright position instead.

If I’ve drawn in guidelines or even begun to firm up an area and they move, I leave the lines there, and I’ll try to work them into the finished sketch. I don’t erase anything unless, when I’m done, something in the finished sketch looks too confusing to let it go, and then I’ll try my best to lighten the lines or remove them. In this case something was confusing to me while I was drawing and I had to remove prior lines. Where Mimi had been leaning forward washing her face as I described above, my prior lines kept me thinking she was crouching and I was tending to draw what I was thinking instead of what was there, that three-quarter back posture, the two alert ears, her attention turned away. I had to erase that original outline as best as I could in order to go on.

All that for this simple little sketch!

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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.


Daily Sketch: Quickly, Before They Wake

pencil sketch of two cats cuddling

Quickly, Before They Wake, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Giuseppe and Mewsette spent the day on my desk and I watched as they cuddled, stretched and blocked my view. I’ve already sketched those postures, they are moving too much, I’m in the middle of something…

But when they tucked their heads in together like two commas cuddling, I furtively grabbed my sketchbook and a pencil and quietly but quickly stood up to do a quick sketch of their two faces tucked together; sometimes my movements or even looking at them wakens them, especially as the afternoon draws along and they are thinking of dinner. I did manage to snap a photo as well, but they sensed my vigilance and woke up to look around, shift, and the moment was over.

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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.


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.


Daily Sketch: Kelly in Silhouette

sketch of cat bathing

Kelly in Silhouette, conté © B.E. Kazmarski

Kelly is having a good bath in the sun while shadows and reflections fall all around her from the light streaming in the window. In the strong light she was in silhouette but highlighted by the light on her fur. What better than the depth of charcoal and the strong natural red of conté? A quick outline was all I got before she decided I should feed her and she left her bath and came to me, purring. I finished the rest from memory.

Wish I’d grabbed my pastels before I saw her and ran back to my desk where I keep my art materials. I had headed into the kitchen for a lemonade and found her happily bathing in the sun. Often, the sun falls the same way and they will spend a few days in a certain pattern. Perhaps I can catch her another day.

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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.


Daily Sketch: Bean Line

outline of cat

Bean Line, charcoal © B.E. Kazmarski

I have a few of my more minimalistic cat drawings from college framed and hanging and stored in portfolios upstairs in my studio where I spent the weekend framing. After all the indulgence in color I am still in that space with just a few black lines on paper.

This one in particular is one black line, a continuous line to draw Jelly Bean’s outline as he sat right in front of me on my desk, dozing. I had to backtrack in a few areas around his face in order to get his profile right, and then I decided to add just the swash for his closed eye, separate from all the rest.

I can smudge pastel around and scribble with the pencil all I want, but if I can’t draw a good line then I need to practice more.

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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.