Tortie Girls Block Prints in Black with Red

block print in black ink with red mat

The Roundest Eyes, black ink in rice paper, red mat, black frame, 12" x 16"

What enchanted me first about block prints, and what I wanted most to see when I began creating with them, was the clarity of black ink on white rice paper. While I often use other colors and types and even prints of paper, the black on white is what I usually return to.

Even when the image is my tortie girls, usually also tinted with oranges and yellows and green for their eyes, pink for nose as I had designed. When I initially print them they are that familiar black on white, and all the cuts and trims I made on the surface of the block to create their image makes me smile as I remember designing the prints and cutting the blocks. The color completes the design, but I always save a few prints back to leave in black on white.

And when I was studying Japanese block prints and other similar styles of art from eastern countries a certain shade of red often seemed to accompany them, and it still seems appropriate, so I include that rich red mat with a black frame to complete the color scheme.

Each image is 8″ x 12″, signed and numbered, with acid-free rich red mat. Frame is 12″ x 16″ black matte-finish wood frame 3/4″ wide and 1-1/4″ deep, almost like a box with the print on the top.

“The Roundest Eyes” (at top)
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes. Find this print in my Etsy shop.

“The Goddess” (below)
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”. Find this print in my Etsy shop.

matted and framed block print

The Goddess, black ink on rice paper, red mat, black frame, 12" x 16.

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Roundest Eyes, hand colored.

And the usual colors

You can also find the hand-colored prints in my Etsy shop, though they have different mats to coordinate with the hand-coloring, and a slightly larger frame. 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.

I also occasionally have other items, usually textiles, printed with the tortie girls. In the past I’ve had curtains, placemats, tablecloths and runners, and I’ve been working on those at the same time as these prints. You’ll see them soon.

awakening block print with red mat

Awakening, matted and framed, linoleum block print © B.E. Kazmarski

And another block print in black with a red mat

While I offer this print both black only and hand-colored, and in a variety of mat colors, I still like it best in black and white and it’s striking with the red mat. This combination was popular at Valentine’s Day so I’ve prepared a few more to have for any time of the year. Read about “Awakening” or find it on Etsy.

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.

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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.


Sepia Miniatures, Feline Photos Set

set of sepia miniatures

Set of sepia miniature photos of Stanley, Sally and Cookie.

I’m sorting through merchandise as I bring it back from my shop and found these three photos. It seems so long ago I took these photos, and I realize it was nearly 20 years ago. We were all so young, what a sweet memory!

I don’t like to leave things packed away—I forget they are there, and I forget where they are, so as much as possible I hang things on the wall. These three will hang near the kitchen doorway again, but I’d love to find a home for them.

framed sepia photo of white cat

Speckle Sally Walking photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Cats love to hang out in the sun, and sometimes the combination of their markings and the light and shadow can create an abstract effect, especially in black and white. I love miniatures too, especially in sets, just little accents that make a statement all their own.

These are three of my favorite little black and white photos which I printed in sepia to match the walnut-stained frames, and hand-cut black core mats to match in tan and natural white.

sepia photo of tabby cat in sun

Speckle Stanley Napping photo © B.E. Kazmarski

“Speckle Sally Walking” featuring my long-haired white cat and “Speckle Stanley Napping” featuring my tabby Stanley are vertical images matted with natural white on top with a black core.

“Sunny Cookie” featuring my tortie girl lying in a diagonal strip of sun is a horizontal image matted in ecru with a black core.

Frame size is 3.5″ x 5″, mat opening is 1.5″ x 3″.

sepia photo of tortoiseshell cat in sun

Sunny Cookie photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Frames are solid wood, walnut stained but with no polyurethane so the texture of the wood shows in a matte finish.

You can find the listed in my Etsy shop under Sepia Miniatures, Feline Photos Set.


More Valentine Cards for Cat Lovers, and Lovers with Cats

two black cats with red background

Nuzzles and Purrrrrs for Valentine's Day!

Here are four more designs to finish out my set of Valentine note cards and greeting cards, as always inspired by and based on images of my household of felines!

As an artist I turn to my surroundings for creative output, and what better to do with a family of five black cats during the festive Halloween season? I posted many of these photos on my blog, The Creative Cat, for my daily photos. Each of the cats depicted here is one of mine. My cats have no choice but to be models, especially “if they like to eat” as I always tell them when they roll their eyes.

Nuzzles and Purrrrrs

The operatically romantic Giuseppe and the French-Canadian belle femme Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite have been carrying on a long-distance affaire since the summer of 2011; they always conclude their correspondence with “nuzzles and purrrrrs”.

I photographed Mewsette and Giuseppe cuddling on my desk while I worked at my computer and posted them as a daily photo on The Creative Cat. So many readers immediately said “Valentine” that I thought I’d oblige with a design! And even though it’s Mewsette and not Mlle. Daisy, Mewsette still knows when her brother needs a hug.

These greeting cards are 5″ x 7″ and are printed on 14 pt. matte-coated stock. The message inside is “NUZZLES AND PURRRRRS” in a really fun font. Each card comes with Autumn Red 70 lb. text weight acid-free envelopes which are inkjet/laser compatible. They are packed in a clear-top vinyl greeting card box. I sell them as a set of six in my shop on Etsy.

two black cats with heart on yellow background

Heart Cats, featuring Mr. Sunshine and Mewsette.

Heart Cats

The siblings of the Fantastic Four often cuddle and hug, cheek to cheek, but this design adapted from the original heart-shaped cats photo of Mr. Sunshine and Mewsette is still my favorite; the background color of the card is adapted from the color of their eyes.

I photographed these two in the bathroom at night in poor light, but no matter, such a sweet photo I’d do my best. Since then I’ve adapted the two into many different designs and colors. Here, for Valentine’s day, they are solid black with the solid cerise of their eyes, and just one red heart as they hug.

These are note cards at 4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ and are printed on matte-coated stock. The message inside is “YOU ARE MY HEART CAT” in a really fun font. Each card comes with Autumn Red 70 lb. text weight acid-free envelopes which are inkjet/laser compatible. They are packed in a clear-top vinyl greeting card box.

They are available as a set of 12 in my shop on Etsy.

black and white photo of cats

Steal a Moment With a Kitty You Love

Steal a Moment

This photo was originally an unfocused mistake but I liked it better than the focused version, and so did many readers of The Creative Cat!

These greeting cards are 5″ x 7″ and are printed on 14 pt. matte-coated stock. The message inside is a simple “HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY”. Each card comes with Autumn Red 70 lb. text weight acid-free envelopes which are inkjet/laser compatible. They are packed in a clear-top vinyl greeting card box. I sell them as a set of six in my shop on Etsy.

card with moon and silhouette of two cats

Silhouettes for Valentine's Day.

Silhouettes for Valentine’s Day

I originated this design as a Halloween card using autumn shades in autumn 2011, but with a little color change it suits Valentine’s Day! It features my photograph of the Harvest Moon and the silhouettes of two of my five black cats.

These greeting cards are 5″ x 7″ and are printed on 14 pt. matte-coated stock.

This card is blank inside, ready for your message.

Each card comes with Autumn Red 70 lb. text weight acid-free envelopes which are inkjet/laser compatible. They are packed in a clear-top vinyl greeting card box.

They are all on Etsy

In addition to the four cards featured here you’ll find other designs on Etsy. Read about them on Portraits of Animals Marketplace.

Purple Cats Valentine Note Cards

Block Print Valentine Note Cards

And a special issue of a block print matted and framed for Valentine’s Day:

Awakening, a Special for Valentine’s Day

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All images and text used in this article 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.


Tortie Girls Block Print Tee Shirts

The Goddess block-printed t-shirt

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

I’ve had several requests about my tortie girls t-shirts lately, so I thought I’d add the ones I have back to my Etsy site. While I am low on sizes I had put them all aside until I could print more and have all sizes available. But considering I print these in oil-based ink and clean up with turpentine I usually wait until I can have the windows open or I can print outdoors, which is March at the earliest. So for now, they are either very large or very small.

Read about the tees and about creating these prints on Portraits of Animals Marketplace.

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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.


Senior Pet Adoption Donation Program

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

I pledge to support senior adoption programs at shelters by making a donation from the sale of every full-size or half-size gicleé print of “Peaches and Peonies.”

I’ve told many stories about Peaches on this site so you know her story of losing her person and entering my life when she was fifteen as a foster, and that we shared a very fulfilling five years before she passed though others were afraid to adopt her for fear she’d die soon. That was not in Peaches’ plan, and not in the plan for most older pets who need homes!

For Adopt a Senior Pet Month I’m featuring this donation offer involving prints of the portrait I painted of her. She’d like the idea that she’s still helping people adopt senior pets and helping shelters help senior pets, and I like the idea that I help to spread her memory through my artwork.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Artist’s Life: Early Feline Influences and Memories

birthday card with kitten

Did this birthday card predict my future?

When you are a “cat person”, it seems to begin with day one and work its way all through your life to the end, with cats intertwined with everything in between.

Cleaning out, renovating and organizing my spare bedroom into my studio has unearthed more works from my development as an artist. I first published a shorter version of this post last May as over the Memorial Day weekend I was reorganizing my house after moving my mother into a skilled nursing unit, sorting through boxes from her storage unit. In addition to my own boxes of papers and mementos I’ve been sorting things I found in boxes from her house, sold years ago but which I neglected to review until now  last year, and some of what I’ve found in all this has given me surprising smiles. I had no idea people knew I was a “cat person” even before I had a cat!

Some of these items either gave me encouragement to love kitties, or they inspired me in some way as an artist. I also have an extensive collection of cat figurines given to me as gifts in those early years even before I had a cat, but I’ll cover that another day! For now, remembering those early years is a treasure in itself.

So looking at a few of the things I’ve found, here’s an interesting perspective on how I got to where I am as a keeper of cats and as an artist.

Read the rest of this entry »


“You Are the Most Beautiful, Precious Girl…”

portrait of orange and white cat on towel

Christie, 2007, pastel, 14" x 23" © B.E. Kazmarski

Would you choose to adopt a kitty who was known to have, ahem, litterbox issues?

And after hearing many warnings and so much failure in this area, do you think you’d be the one to find the magic solution?

Christie was brought to a veterinarian for treatment, but her owners never returned; apparently Christie wasn’t using the litter pan and they didn’t want to take her back. The veterinarian obtained ownership and put her up for adoption, and as the news spread that a kitty needed a home the story eventually reached her adoptive people. They met the charming and quiet girl, impressed by her affectionate nature, and were willing to take a chance with the litter pan issues. Her forever family discovered that Christie needed to be told frequently, at least once each day, that she was the most beautiful and precious girl and to have her lovely long orange fur massaged or she would become visibly depressed. Apparently she is no longer wanting for praise and affection, and a neatly folded towel still warm from the dryer and carefully placed on the kitchen counter doesn’t hurt, either.

This is Christie’s story in Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book

About Christie’s adoption

Apparently in Christie’s case, love was the solution, and her people apparently knew it the moment they saw her.

“We knew that was an issue when we met her,” Christie’s mom said, “but we just liked her so much we thought we’d give her a chance.”

cat using scratching post

Scruffy demonstrating scratching post.

Living with breed Persians for many years this couple was smitten with a rescue cat, Felix, after they lost their tabby Persian, Scout. Now they find rescue cats, always adults, to fill their home, usually two at a time, and they also care for a number of outdoor cats in style. At right is Scruffy, Christie’s current house mate, using the scratching post right next to the window so he can pretend he’s in the outdoors.

The idea that they would be willing to bring a cat who had known litter box issues into their rather new and elegant home, and to work with the cat until the issue was resolved by simply finding the cat’s own needs is a testament to their belief in rescue and their skill with and sensitivity to animals.

“She did have a few accidents at first,” Christie’s mom continued. “We gave her lots of attention when she was new so she’d know we loved her and she belonged here and she’d get used to the place. After all, she’d been abandoned.” The occasional errant litterbox non-use disappeared.

orange and white cat with love

Christie gets her love session.

“I just discovered that she needs to be held and petted and massaged and told every day, more than once if possible, that she is the most wonderful, beautiful, precious, lovely girl, and we love her very much,” she said as she demonstrated the process of love with Christie on her lap, massaging her fingers through Christy’s thick fur as Christie flexed her front toes and slowly blinked her eyes, knowing that this sort of treatment was her divine right.

Eventually, people have to go to work or away on a vacation or just out somewhere for long days, such as during the holidays. “When she doesn’t get her quota of love, she will ‘miss’ the box,” her mom said, “so we give Christie her love every day, but we understand if she misses.” Even the pet sitter indulges Christie when they are away.

But avoiding Christie’s issues isn’t the reason for lots of love, and trying to resolve her issues wasn’t a reason for adoption; rather, it was the other way around. They simply knew when they met her that they loved her and they felt Christie would love them too. Finding the solution—frequent demonstrative love sessions—was a happy by-product of how much they loved her, and she loved them.

detail of portrait

Detail of Christie's face.

About the portrait

I’ve done several portraits for this couple, as you can see in Felix’s article, Big Kitty Love, and Christie was the most recent. By this time I no longer needed to review with them the process of considering the scene and posture they’d like in order to remember their kitty forever on their wall. When they called me, they knew exactly what they wanted, because nearly every day, they warmed a towel in the dryer, folded it neatly and, while still warm, placed it on the counter dividing the kitchen and dining area where they frequently sat after dinner. They had taken a number of photos in preparation and I took a number of close-ups of Christie as well, and happily got to their portrait.

Some people react to this portrait in an interesting way, saying she looks sad, but it’s only because she’s lying down and her expression is relaxed, her eyes aren’t as round and alert as usual—and that’s where the portrait posture is personal to the humans of the cat. Her people know she’s extremely happy and see nothing else.

Here is Christie’s page in Great Rescues:

page in great rescues calendar

Read other stories about cats and their rescuers from Great Rescues.

The Portrait That Started it All

Big Kitty Love

There Was Just No Other Kitty After Samantha

The Cat of a Lifetime

A Bridge Between the Ages

I’ll Be Seeing You

Simon Says…

Irina and Isis, Saved from the Flood

Four Ferals

Riley

Milan and Felix

Learn more about Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book

Visit the Great Rescues website


“Pawprints and Raindrops” is Featured on The Daily Tail!

pastel painting of a cat on a bed

Sunday Morning, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

My award-winning* feline-inspired poem Pawprints and Raindrops and my painting “Sunday Morning” are featured on the award-winning The Daily Tail blog! Please visit to read and enjoy, and also to read wide-ranging daily stories and images about cats, dogs, cows, birds, deer and just about anything else with fur or feathers…or scales…or…

Thank you, Daniela, for being a faithful reader of my blog too!

Catnip Chronicles

This poem was also featured in Catnip Chronicles in April 2010, so click over there to read it and then subscribe to this monthly online journal of all things cat!

2010 Award from Cat Writers’ Association

Pawprints and Raindrops won both a Certificate of Excellence and Muse Medallion in the 2010 Cat Writers’ Association annual Communication Contest in the poetry category.

I also wrote an article earlier in 2010, around the time of my annual poetry reading, when I’d be reading this poem in public for the first time, and I wrote about my inspirations for poetry and art, and the inspiration for this poem in particular, and included the poem in that article, Pawprints and Raindrops.


Namir at the Window, Reprise

painting of cat with flowers

Namir at the Window, acrylic © B. E. Kazmarski

Now that I’m getting my studio in order, I’m also finding a few unfinished projects, so last night I decided to reacquaint myself with this painting and with acrylic paints and techniques.

Normally, I’m pretty linear with working on something, focusing on one clear idea at a time. When I’m learning something new I hit points where I’m not skilled enough to do something and need to either work it out there or outside of that piece, or just stop and let the lessons I’ve learned sink in and get back to it when I’m ready to move on. This is the third time I’ve worked on this and a fresh eye has led to a few decisions.

paitning of cat at window

Last proof of painting from 2009.

I began this painting in January 2008 from photos I took of Namir in 2005, I think, soon after I’d gotten the acrylics, but hit a learning wall at one point and put it aside to work on commissions. I pulled it out again in April of 2009 when Namir, at 15 with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, was having increasing trouble with congestive heart failure, kidney failure and related health issues, and I know we didn’t have much time left. I wanted to work on the painting when he was still with me. He died in July 2009, and again I left it where it had been at that time.

Namir is gone but I love to remember him in any way I can. The area where I keep this windowbox is too shady for the colorful geraniums and petunias and marigolds I’d always grown in it, and the pleasant memory of him at the window with the flowers is a treasure to spend time with.

My changes this time

Where before I wanted to get the reflection in the window so it didn’t “t look like a big black hole in the middle of the painting”, get “a little more detail on the shutter on the right…”, I’ve decided there is too much background that isn’t necessary. I originally liked the “cottage-ish” look of the shutter and windowbox, but they aren’t interesting enough. If there was, or I could add, something of interest there, I’d do that, but I think what I’ll do instead is crop the painting, literally.

painting of cat at window

The cropped version.

I want it to show what I remember most and what I feel is most important, and I don’t need to show the whole scene to do that as I first thought. It’s a canvas stretched on cardboard, not stretchers, so all I need to do when I’m done is cut out the part I want to use and frame that. I’ve done that with other paintings in other media including other acrylics (see below). For now, I just won’t work on that anymore. That’s kind of freeing!

I also adjusted the color of the lace curtain. There is a screen in the window that tends to tint everything that’s not sunlit with brown, and even though it’s lighter than it is in the original photo it makes more sense. I’ll also add more texture back into it, now that I have the shade right.

I had also wanted to change Namir’s so “he looks less like a grey coyote”. He does have big ears, an angular face and a prominent nose, but I had painted the curtain around his face and overlapped a little too much, taking too much away from the edges of his face and head and working his ears out too long. I adjusted his forehead, shortened his ears and added a little more to the back of his neck. His coloring isn’t right yet, but I’m still working him out against the background. And while he was very slender I may add a little more roundness to his lower torso.

Also, his eye in the photo is barely apparent, a fluke of a leaf shadow that crossed over his face when I took the photo, but it didn’t work in the painting, so I’m working that out from other photos. It’s amazing what our eye will accept in photos but not in a painting. Not there yet, but definitely an improvement.

Acrylic painting and me

painting of laundry on line

My Neighbor's Laundry, acrylic © B. E. Kazmarski

Acrylic painting is a challenge because I’m most accustomed to pastel for color work like this, and I use my fingers for much of pastel, holding it directly in my hand and blending with my fingers. Pastel is also very patient and waits for me to do something, remaining exactly as I left it for indefinite periods of time, where acrylic paint has an annoying habit of drying right away.

The work above began as an 18″ x 24″ painting of a view I see all the time—one neighbor’s laundry hanging in front of their neighbor’s huge old white garage, which was at one time a carriage house and stable. It was the barn, not the laundry, that initially made me want to paint this on a summer morning because I loved the look of the colors reflected in the white paint from all the green, the blue from the sky and so on.

That was one time where I wasn’t skilled enough in acrylic to pull it off (though I did in pastel–I actually did the same painting in pastel just to give myself some guidance), and I totally overworked the barn. I learned quite a bit about acrylics in that one, but had no intention of showing it to anyone, much less enter it in “Carnegie Painted”, the annual art show it was destined for.

But I loved, loved the laundry. It was exactly what I wanted, and the green of the grass and the dappled leaves behind. I had a frame on hand so I cut it down to fit that, 14″W x 7″H. I thought I’d kept the rest because I keep everything and I also might want to use it in teaching some day, but I couldn’t find it. Nor could I find the pastel drawing. I sincerely doubt that I tossed them because I had a purpose, though in a moment of desperation for space in this house I may have. Probably they are safely packed together somewhere.

I’m not sure I like acrylic paints generally because of the drying issue, I like the more glossy finish on oil and the colors resemble my pastels a little more closely, but two friends gave me unused acrylic paints and canvases and brushes, so I’m getting all the practice I can and I’m sure I’ll get used to it. What I love about acrylics is the brushwork I can do that is difficult in pastel, and it’s not just about the shapes and colors on the canvas, but the 3-D texture of paint. I also love working with a brush, choosing the right brush for the task, loading it with paint, sometimes several colors at once, it’s a very different way of thinking than my pastels. I just need to do more acrylics and see how it works out!


Free Shipping in Honor of Black Cat Appreciation Day!

black cat card

"God, I'm Cute"

I’m offering free shipping on the black cat-inspired merchandise in my Etsy shop today only!

black crocheted pawprint

Black Cotton Pawprint Washcloth

Get a dose of Jelly Bean’s cuteness on greeting cards or a framed photo, or buy a soft hand-crocheted black cotton pawprint washcloth to celebrate your black kitty’s love!

Read more about it in Portraits of Animals Marketplace!