Think Ahead for Mother’s and Father’s Day Commissioned Portraits

sample certificate

Sample Portrait Gift Certificate

If you’re thinking of a custom portrait as a gift for someone for Mother’s or Father’s Day, let’s get started now! From our beginning conversations to shipping the finished framed portrait to you takes about four weeks, and we’ll be just in time for Mother’s Day if we start now.

I also remind people that “pet parents” are parents as well and qualify for gifts in honor of these two holidays, so why not celebrate with a gift from your animal children?

While a custom commissioned portrait is a really unique gift, sometimes you can’t get the photos or you’d rather let the recipient design the portrait they want. I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination, but usually suggest $125.00 because it is the basic cost of a portrait, one subject in an area of about 10″ x 12″ depending on the subject matter. (The recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.)

portrait of kids and cats

For Our Grandparents, from 1992

How about all the children together, animal and human?

And even though I specialize in animals, I also paint people, and several times have painted portraits of people and their pets. I only have a few samples because some customers have requested privacy when the subjects were children and others haven’t given permission to be on the internet.

How the certificate works

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards. The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

If you need your certificate in a hurry, let me know when you make your purchase, give me the name of the recipient and the holiday/event if any and I’ll e-mail you PDFs of the certificate, thank you letter and brochure so that you can print them out or forward them in e-mail. Please make sure you give me the e-mail where you want to receive them, especially if they are a surprise!

portrait of cat

Christie on her warm towel.

Prices are quoted per job, and include only the drawing (no mat or framing; this is extra, see below). Portraits start at $125.00 per subject for a color 8″ x 10″; prices increase according to size and complexity of work. Adding a background, extra objects (toys, etc.) and additional subjects are extra according to their complexity. I reserve the right to limit the content according to the finished size so that the subjects don’t become so small that details are impossible. And remember, I can only do so much with some photographs!

Framing is charged as a separate item, and we can discuss the framing when you contract for your portrait.

portrait of two cats and a dog

Shadow, Casey and Ralph, a mother's day gift.

Certificate can be used for other subjects as well

Animal artwork is not limited to pictures of your own pets, but may include pictures of any sort—wildlife images, for instance. In addition to portraits of your pets, I also offer portraits of your people, your house, or any other item of which you may want a portrait. I can always hold on to a portrait until a holiday, birthday or other event arrives, and I can keep a secret if the portrait is a gift.

You are helping a long list of animal shelters and rescues

Your purchase of a certificate supports many shelters and animal welfare organizations because I also donate at least a half dozen certificates to benefit auctions every year where all proceeds of the sale go directly to the organization; your purchase helps me cover the costs of creating original art for the winners of these certificates. I’m always pleased to see they auction for more than their face value—in this way, I can “give” more to the organizations than I ever could in cash.

carol and smudge

Carol and Smudge

Read about portraits and look at samples

You can read more about custom commissioned portraits on this site by clicking the tab at the top for Commissioned Pet Portraits and from there follow the links to my website.

You can also read stories about portraits on The Creative Cat, including progress images of more recent portraits and stories of portraits I’ve done in the past.
Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraitsportrait of black cat in wicker chair Commissioned Dog Portraitspastel portrait of dogs

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

To go directly to the Gift Certificate on my website, click here, or go to my Portraits of Animals shop on Etsy.

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.


Two Portraits, Choose One

pastel painting of two borzoi dogs

Borzois, pastel, 1999 © B.E. Kazmarski

Too many ideas leads to two portraits, one for me and one for the customer!

Several years ago I had the pleasure of painting a portrait of two beautiful rescued Borzois, Traveller and Emma. Their person was also a friend of mine and lived in an enviable remodeled home on a few hilltop acres with wonderful light and horses romping in the pasture next door.

detail of portrait of borzois

Detail of faces.

I’d visited before and when she mentioned she’d like a portrait I began envisioning the two dogs and the places in her home and even outdoors in a fenced area where they could play. I knew she had photos but especially with larger animals, and one of them being primarily black, I was glad to be able to meet them and take photos of my own so that I could collect details. Back in the days of film, I had two 36-exposure rolls with me and all my lenses for my trusty little Pentax K-1000. The house was full of windows so lighting likely wouldn’t be an issue.

We followed the dogs around the house, Traveller, the big creamy white dog obviously being the boss and the smaller black and tan Emma following orders and feeling safe near her big brother.

photos of borzoi dogs

The inspiration for the above portrait.

She told me each had come from two different rescues from indiscriminate breeders who were breeding these huge dogs in apartments and condos. Emma was noticeably smaller than usual because there were—talk about hoarding—over 70 Borzois inside one condo. Because of that overcrowding and the sheer number of dogs, she hadn’t been socialized well and was timid and skittish, but could simply be a happy dog and feel safe around her big brother.

Their favorite room was a spacious sunroom addition at the west end of the home which their person told me had been ambitiously begun by the home’s former owners. They had decided to complete the project and the two-story space would be a paradise for any animal or human. I was enchanted by Traveller, whose head was nearly at my shoulder, and smaller Emma racing gracefully among the plants and wicker furniture and collectibles without touching a thing. I took plenty of photos of them playing along with detail shots of their faces in that wonderfully-balanced light.

collage of faces

Composite for facial portrait.

Arriving home with the photos I began to work on layouts for the portraits. She wanted a fairly large portrait and we had discussed just including their faces nearly life size, so I designed the layout with their faces above and below, befitting their relationship to each other. I could picture the colors I’d use in both creamy white and inky black fur and how I’d create the textures in each.

But I kept remembering their play in that sunny room and from one of the photos I’d taken. I designed another portrait with them standing together and a few plants around. This would not be a detailed and realistic portrait, more loose and impressionistic, capturing the light and color and motion I’d perceived. I knew my client would like that as well since I knew the work of other artists she’d purchased and commissioned as well as her other purchases of my art.

I proposed both ideas to her and showed her my layouts done in PhotoShop. She liked both as did I and we agreed I’d work up both of them and see what happened. She would choose one and I would get to keep the other, a great deal for me to have a live portrait on hand as an example.

portrait of two borzoi dogs

Traveller and Emma, pastel, 1999 © B.E. Kazmarski

In the end she chose the more realistic one of just the two faces because she wanted to remember the details of their expressions she’d loved so much, though I could tell the choice was difficult knowing how she loved an impressionistic style of painting.

I would have been happy with either one, but in the years since, whenever I’ve shown this painting in exhibits or at my tent in a festival it has always attracted people to come and study it, not just dog lovers or animal lovers, but the colors and composition are eye-catching to most people.

Borzois, framed.

Borzois, framed.

Now that I have a good digital file of “Borzois”, I have the original for sale, framed, as you see above.

And both of these are two of the canine portraits I’ll be selling as prints and art cards beginning this year. “Borzois” is currently available as a full-size giclee print in my Etsy shop. I will post the other prints here on The Creative Cat as well as on Portraits of Animals Marketplace, but you can always check my Etsy shop to see what’s available right now.

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat in wicker chair
Commissioned Dog Portraits

pastel portrait of dogs

______________________________

Read about other recent commissioned portraits here on The Creative Cat.
Read about how I create commissioned portraits.
Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

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.


Holiday Open House at Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation

portrait of two borzois

The Borzois, commissioned portrait, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit me at CCPC Saturday, December 10 from 10am to 2pm for a free gift, a mini pet first aid demonstration and holiday gift ideas as Deb hosts an open house.

I’ll be on hand with a few portrait samples, some shown here, and portrait gift certificates for a unique gift idea for someone on your list.

The Free Gift

The first fifty families to visit will receive a Pet Holiday Survival Kit. The kit is an easy to store and carry pouch containing the basics of what you’d need to provide first aid to your pet in the case of an accident or injury during the holiday festivities, or any time.

Pet First Aid Demonstrations

Karen Sable, Pet Emergency Training LLC and the instructor for our recent series of Pet First Aid classes, will be on hand to demonstrate several first aid techniques.

portrait of dog

Buckwheat, commissioned portrait, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Gift Ideas

You’ll also see several special gift ideas that might please the pet parent on your holiday list including Deb’s outstanding selection of urns and other memorial items and custom-made memorial jewelry.

Join us this Saturday! Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation is located at 442 Washington Avenue in Bridgeville. For more information about CCPC or the Pet First Aid Classes, visit www.ccpc.ws.

If you can’t make it to this event, you can always purchase a gift certificate in my Esty shop.

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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.


Gathering Portraits and People: My Book Signing and Art Exhibit

portrait of black cat in wicker chair

Samantha, pastel © B. E. Kazmarski

Samantha’s portrait and Samantha’s mom will be there! I’m really looking forward to seeing some of my portraits and portrait families tomorrow night from 7 to 9 at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall. Samantha’s mom is even bringing the photo I worked from, and she’ll be glad to talk about Samantha and her portrait. I am thrilled to be able to share this original portrait, so important to my career as an artist, with guests.

detail of portrait

Detail of Christie's face.

closeup of cat's face

Felix, detail of his face.

In addition to Samantha will be Felix and Christie and their mom and dad, as well as the other three portraits I’ve done for them. You can read more about these wonderful rescuers and their portraits in Big Kitty Love.

Milan and Felix

buster

Buster

Milan and Felix‘s mom and dad won’t be able to attend, but I’ll be able to show the portrait of these two wonderful rescued friends.

But you will be able to see Buster’s portrait and the other one I did for the set of two, and his mom will be there as well.

three orange cats

Amaretto, Simon and Merlin

I’ll also show Amaretto, Simon and Merlin and the other portrait I did of Cassie and Tyler, this family’s two dogs, and portraits from friends who will visit who are not in this calendar.

I will also be showing my personal portraits and feline artwork, including Peaches and Peonies, Waiting for Mom, Are You Looking at Me, Warm Winter Sun, Afternoon Nap, The Little Sunflower, Interior with Cat, Sunbath, Sunday Morning, Winter Window, Sleeping Beauty, and perhaps even more if I can carry them all. Visit “My Cats” on my website to see these and more.

Details of the event are included below!

Join me Thursday, September 22, 2011 from 7 to 9 pm at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie for a reception and book signing for Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book.

Augie

For that night only, I will display several of the original portraits included in Great Rescues as well as other original portraits, including some of my own, in the Reception Hall.

Many of the people whose portraits and stories are featured in the book will be joining me.

I will be happy to dedicate your copy to your rescued pets, to a rescue organization or shelter or, if it is a gift, to a friend or relative who rescues animals.


Celebrating the stories of rescued cats and the people who rescued them, and the artwork of animal artist and writer Bernadette E. Kazmarski.

I’m pleased to present my first published work, truly a labor of love from creating the portraits within it to collecting the stories and  designing, printing and publishing it.

buster

Buster

Reviews

“Lovely to look at and read and hold in the hands, Great Rescues is an altogether ‘up’ experience, where people are compassionate and good, and however troubled their beginnings, all cat stories have happy endings.” Marion Lane, former editor of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) newsletter Animal Watch.

“Received my copy of Great Rescues, a most exquisite book/calendar jammed-packed with irresistible fine-art paintings of cats of all kinds, and wonderous stories about them, painted and penned by Bernadette E. Kazmarski…I highly recommend this book; give it 4 paws up.” Allia Zobel Nolan, author of more than 170 illustrated books and former children’s editor of Readers’ Digest Books.

painting of dilute calico with amaryllis

Peaches

“This is one of the most beautiful cat calendars I’ve seen. The paintings are stunningly beautiful, and the stories are heart touching. And it’s so much more than just a calendar.” Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.

“I knew it would be breathtaking – after all, the calendar creator is artist extraordinaire Bernadette Kazmarski! But I don’t know if I was prepared for how engaging this beautiful work of art turned out to be. I sat down and read it from cover to cover – I just couldn’t put it down!” Chris Davis, artist and author of For Every Cat An Angel, For Every Dog An Angel and several other illustrated animal books, and publisher at Lighthearted Press.

You can read the full reviews from these reviewers as well as more reviews and comments and the continuing stories of the cats and their rescuers at www.greatrescuescalendar.com.

pastel painting of a cat peeking out from under a bed

Waiting for Mom, pastel painting © B. E. Kazmarski

Great Rescues is a 16-month desk calendar and gift book featuring 15 portraits of rescued cats I’ve been commissioned to paint in the 20 years I’ve been an animal portrait artist, plus the portrait of my own which I consider my first.

While the portraits are lovely and I’m proud of my body of work, the stories of these cats, and the people who rescued them, is what compels me to share them with you. Each of the stories tells of cats from shelters and cats abandoned and saved, cats found inside car engines and cats reluctantly surrendered by people who could no longer care for them, but each one has a happy ending as a cherished companion in a loving home.

page in great rescues calendar

Christie

And while each cat has an individual story, each rescuer has a story as well of reaching out to an animal in need to bring it in from the streets. In many cases they helped heal physical and emotional wounds and gave that cat a lifetime of love, in return receiving love and devotion; often those humans received some healing in return they weren’t aware they needed.

About the Calendar

Great Rescues is spiral-bound and measures 8″ x 8″ to easily fit on your desk or in a purse, briefcase or backpack. It has a die-cut cover with the title stamped in gold foil and each spread features a portrait  and the stories of the rescue and calendar pages including every pet day, week, and month currently celebrated listed in each month of the calendar.

collage of cats on notepaper

"22 Cats" Notepaper

Following the calendar section is a section of stories of the rescuers and their feline families today, notes on the design and rendering of each of the portraits, a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings and “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits.

Visit the Great Rescues Calendar website to learn more and if you can’t join us on September 22 you can purchase one on the site.
www.greatrescuescalendar.com

If the calendar is a gift to someone, or you have a particular cat or cats in mind, I would be glad to add an inscription in the front of your calendar.

—————————————————————

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.


Great Rescues Book Signing and Art Exhibit

Join me Thursday, September 22, 2011 from 7 to 9 pm at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie for a reception and book signing for Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book.

Augie

For that night only, I will display several of the original portraits included in Great Rescues as well as other original portraits, including some of my own, in the Reception Hall.

Many of the people whose portraits and stories are featured in the book will be joining me.

I will be happy to dedicate your copy to your rescued pets, to a rescue organization or shelter or, if it is a gift, to a friend or relative who rescues animals.


Celebrating the stories of rescued cats and the people who rescued them, and the artwork of animal artist and writer Bernadette E. Kazmarski.

I’m pleased to present my first published work, truly a labor of love from creating the portraits within it to collecting the stories and  designing, printing and publishing it.

buster

Buster

Reviews

“Lovely to look at and read and hold in the hands, Great Rescues is an altogether ‘up’ experience, where people are compassionate and good, and however troubled their beginnings, all cat stories have happy endings.” Marion Lane, former editor of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) newsletter Animal Watch.

“Received my copy of Great Rescues, a most exquisite book/calendar jammed-packed with irresistible fine-art paintings of cats of all kinds, and wonderous stories about them, painted and penned by Bernadette E. Kazmarski…I highly recommend this book; give it 4 paws up.” Allia Zobel Nolan, author of more than 170 illustrated books and former children’s editor of Readers’ Digest Books.

painting of dilute calico with amaryllis

Peaches

“This is one of the most beautiful cat calendars I’ve seen. The paintings are stunningly beautiful, and the stories are heart touching. And it’s so much more than just a calendar.” Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.

“I knew it would be breathtaking – after all, the calendar creator is artist extraordinaire Bernadette Kazmarski! But I don’t know if I was prepared for how engaging this beautiful work of art turned out to be. I sat down and read it from cover to cover – I just couldn’t put it down!” Chris Davis, artist and author of For Every Cat An Angel, For Every Dog An Angel and several other illustrated animal books, and publisher at Lighthearted Press.

You can read the full reviews from these reviewers as well as more reviews and comments and the continuing stories of the cats and their rescuers at www.greatrescuescalendar.com.

pastel painting of a cat peeking out from under a bed

Waiting for Mom, pastel painting © B. E. Kazmarski

Great Rescues is a 16-month desk calendar and gift book featuring 15 portraits of rescued cats I’ve been commissioned to paint in the 20 years I’ve been an animal portrait artist, plus the portrait of my own which I consider my first.

While the portraits are lovely and I’m proud of my body of work, the stories of these cats, and the people who rescued them, is what compels me to share them with you. Each of the stories tells of cats from shelters and cats abandoned and saved, cats found inside car engines and cats reluctantly surrendered by people who could no longer care for them, but each one has a happy ending as a cherished companion in a loving home.

page in great rescues calendar

Christie

And while each cat has an individual story, each rescuer has a story as well of reaching out to an animal in need to bring it in from the streets. In many cases they helped heal physical and emotional wounds and gave that cat a lifetime of love, in return receiving love and devotion; often those humans received some healing in return they weren’t aware they needed.

About the Calendar

Great Rescues is spiral-bound and measures 8″ x 8″ to easily fit on your desk or in a purse, briefcase or backpack. It has a die-cut cover with the title stamped in gold foil and each spread features a portrait  and the stories of the rescue and calendar pages including every pet day, week, and month currently celebrated listed in each month of the calendar.

collage of cats on notepaper

"22 Cats" Notepaper

Following the calendar section is a section of stories of the rescuers and their feline families today, notes on the design and rendering of each of the portraits, a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings and “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits.

Visit the Great Rescues Calendar website to learn more and if you can’t join us on September 22 you can purchase one on the site.
www.greatrescuescalendar.com

If the calendar is a gift to someone, or you have a particular cat or cats in mind, I would be glad to add an inscription in the front of your calendar.


The Alchemy of Love

black cat sleeping on floor by paiting

Mimi with Peaches

This scene gave me pause the other day; in the moment I saw Mimi by Peaches’ portrait I knew there was a bond being lovingly observed.

I’m finishing the process of setting up my spare-bedroom studio as a clean, bright and organized work space, finally at the point of hanging art on the walls. “Peaches and Peonies” has been in my shop at Carnegie Antiques for the past year because I had no good place to hang her portrait here. I happily decided that Peaches should come home to be a part of this dedication to my career as an artist, so I can study the painting and continue to draw inspiration from it, and so that Peaches can watch over me as I work.

I leaned the painting in a safe spot against the wall, then left for a while.

When I came back, there was Mimi, relaxing in a beam of sunlight, in front of Peaches’ portrait. I wondered briefly if Mimi only found this quiet sunny spot to have a bath and a nap—in a room where she rarely goes unless she follows me, and through a habit she rarely observes in sleeping on the floor.

black cat with painting

Mimi stayed quite a while.

Even though I know the portrait is only an inanimate object, that it’s questionable if Mimi can clearly see or would recognize the scene in a painting, and all cats, including Mimi, are drawn to little beams of sunlight for relaxation, I knew there was no coincidence.

She stayed for quite some time, until the sunlight faded, and I would not interrupt the moment, enjoying also a moment of my own. Peaches, as well as every other cat who has come to me in any way since I’ve lived in this house, began their life with me in that room, some ended their lives in that room too, and even with the total transformation the room will always carry memories for me and I’m sure all the cats too.

I remember too

two cats on table

Share the Love

I have been remembering my sweet Peaches since last October, little reminders every day in this first year after her passing, remembering her daily habits so intertwined with mine, her quiet and pleasant personality, her petite beauty. Browsing my photos in their daily folders, there she is in almost every one, having a bath, enjoying the sunshine, coaxing me out of bed to feed her breakfast, interacting with the other cats—especially Giuseppe, who very lovingly cared for her, and the Fantastic Four in general.

I also remember the simple moments that aren’t in any photographs, the tactile memories that are such an integral part of our relationship with our animal companions. I remember the particular soft plush of her fur, short but thick, as she would lift her face and bump her nose against my hand as I would start on her forehead and run my hand down her back, and the way her tail would swing straight up as my hand reached her hips so I could bump against it, then start again at her forehead, feeling her purr growing more resonant with each stroke. I remember the small rounded weight of her body, like a little pear, as she reclined on my lap each evening for a vigorous and complete after-dinner bath, her legs and tail and head emerging in front of me, then her process of turning around and around and around in both directions in preparation for sleep as I tried to work around her.

And as the season and fruits of July are fresh, I thought of Peaches as I placed my fresh local peaches in a bowl, remembering the nicknames of “my little Peach pit”, “my little Georgia Peach,” “my sweet Peach”, and every other variation on peach I made up just for her.

calico cat on table

Peaches on the table.

The memories are as sweet as she was, even the memories of assisting her through the months of renal failure, the more frequent doses of sub-q fluids, the variable appetite, the nausea and her increasing discomfort. I remember that brief part of her life less as time goes on, finding instead that I remember the way she looked at me, with total devotion, and smiling in this moment at the memory of her guileless, honest expression.

I’ll admit, also, something I don’t miss at all, and laugh when I remember…for whatever reason, Peaches never cared for the litterbox, instead choosing an inconvenient spot somewhere, which she changed frequently. She came to me at 15, her owner had died, and I have no idea what her history was, but as soon as I eased her back into the habit of using the box, she would begin to experiment with other areas. In the months after she passed, I also laughed to myself as I replaced stained old throw rugs with the better ones I’d packed away, well, until Peaches was no longer around to use them.

calico cat on table

Peaches Reflecting

And I am looking at how much my household has changed and rearranged; I had the three senior tri-color girls at my desk all day, but now just Cookie and Kelly, and even they spend part of their days in other sleeping places. I have a completely different wake-up committee. And I lost the only light-colored kitty in my household—now with five black cats and two torties it’s sometimes a challenge to distinguish one cat from another in my photos.

It’s all a process of the acceptance of loss, which is a part of the acceptance of change, the constant change that is a part of life. I may feel a twinge of sadness, or feel tears well at a memory, but this is the process we all mention when someone loses someone they love, that time heals all wounds, that the pain you feel is replaced by the love you will always carry. Each of these encounters helps to heal over a little bit more as the philosopher’s stone of the alchemist it turns the base metal of pain to the gold of loving memory, which is truly the elixir of everlasting life.

You can read more about Peaches by simply searching this blog for “Peaches”—you’ll find quite a lot, especially photos! You can also reference the series of articles I wrote in 2010 as she was about to turn 20 and we celebrated her “100th birthday” which are linked in the article It’s Peaches’ 100th Birthday!

A note about “Peaches and Peonies”

photograph of award

Peaches and Peonies Award

I learned that “Peaches and Peonies” had won a Certificate of Excellence as a Single Illustration used as a greeting card in the Cat Writers’ Association annual communications contest two days after Peaches died in October 2010. The painting went on to win a Muse Medallion in that category, which I have hanging on the painting. Since I couldn’t make it to last year’s conference, thanks to Ingrid King who thoughtfully took this photo for me to keep!

I also sell prints of “Peaches and Peonies” with a donation to benefit senior pet adoption programs and tell Peaches’ story to encourage people to adopt senior pets. Read about the Senior Pet Adoption Donation Program.


The Conscious Cat “Great Rescues” Review and Giveaway

Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat reviewed Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book and is offering a giveaway for those who comment on the post!

I especially appreciate her comments: This is one of the most beautiful cat calendars I’ve seen. The paintings are stunningly beautiful, and the stories are heart touching.  And it’s so much more than just a calendar.

She is giving away one personalized, autographed copy to one lucky winner, ending Friday, August 12. Visit her site to read the rest of her review and enter for a chance to win a book!

Great Rescues: a 16-month cat calendar and gift book | The Conscious Cat.

And don’t forget to vote for her site in the Petties awards—details are at the bottom of the article!


“Great Rescues” review by Marion Lane, former “ASPCA Animal Watch” editor

In part, it’s the creative conundrum of carrying around and then visualizing and realizing an idea over a period of time. I carried this idea for so long, then steeped myself in the creation of the whole book and I’m actually just getting a perspective on what I’ve done. It’s so gratifying to read the reviews; here are two quick excerpts from Marion’s review.

Marion writes, “Bernadette Kazmarski calls Great Rescues, her one-woman work of wonders a “calendar,” and it is, but that’s just for starters. Literally.”

And very touching to me, she noticed my dedication at the beginning of the calendar, “This book is dedicated to Bernadette’s first family of cats. All long since departed from the physical world, she notes that they are made immortal in everything she creates.”

Read the rest of Marion’s review on the blog for the Great Rescues website.

And you can read other reviews on the Reviews page, plus comments from recipients on the home page.


Bodie and Bear Bear Are Ready to Go Home

bodie and bear final portrait

Bodie and Bear Bear final portrait

I have completed and framed this portrait, and it’s off to its people to be a surprise holiday gift.

Bodie face

Bodie's face

You can read more about the background on it in my first post, and the fact that the husband is returning the favor to his wife, who commissioned me to do a portrait several years ago.

I had gotten a pretty good start in the first draft, but if you look closely you’ll see a lot more fur this time, and more detail generally.

Bear's face

Bear's face

The portrait is 18″ wide by 14″ tall, and the dogs’ faces a pleasantly big, large enough to work good detail around the eyes and on their noses. Working the fur on subjects this large is a little more time consuming, especially with long-haired animals such as these. I start with general areas of color to mark where the shadows and highlights are, but then I layer other tints and hues over that and the final top color in wisps, blended with my fingers. This is what gives the fur the depth and texture while maintaining the right coloration.

I really enjoy dog’s noses—there’s so much going on there! And in an extreme close-up you see so many different-colored hairs and whiskers of every length.

Read the details of building the portrait and the people who commissioned me in my first post.

I can’t wait to hear what the recipient has to say, and I’ll be sad to see them go so soon!

Read more about my animal portraiture.


Meet Bodie and Bear Bear

painting of two dogs on rug

Bodie and Bear Bear waiting for action, first draft.

Do I paint dogs too? Of course! Bodie and Bear Bear will be a holiday gift to a spouse.

detail of dog's face

Detail of Bodie.

This is the first draft of this portrait of the owner’s two dogs, painted in pastel as usual. I love images of our animal companions like this—isn’t this how we often see them, looking up at us expectantly? It’s a little difficult of an angle to draw because it’s often quite foreshortened, especially with taller dogs whose heads are simply closer to the lens. In this case I widened the two dogs’ lower bodies to keep them in natural proportion. I have fur to add to both of them, but that will come last.

This painting is about 12″ x 18″, plenty big enough for detail, so when I first looked at the photo and began to visualize, I knew I could work with the dogs as they were, just modifying their bodies as described above. But what about the hardwood floor, and that rug?

detail of dog's face

Detail of Bear Bear's face.

I actually charge extra for these background elements, and sometimes I’ll advise to omit them, both for various reasons. A smaller painting would make it difficult to work these details, more time-consuming, often more time than the subjects themselves so I make sure they are important to my customer. They can also be really distracting and take away from the subject being more of a design element, and people get tired of carpets and such. I hope this painting will hang on the wall for years and years, but what if my customer gets tired of the rug, or changes the colors all over the house? I doubt they’ll get tired of looking at the dogs, but the carpet might get a little tiresome years from now.

On the other hand, the hardwood floors and the carpet are from the era of these pets, and all together it looks like home. This painting is large enough to support the patterns, the dogs are large enough not to be overwhelmed, so I decided to include it, though simplified. Once I got my initial sketch done, I liked the composition and dove right in.

detail of carpet and floor

Detail of carpet and floor.

Because animal fur floats over its background, I usually finish the background of a portrait before I work on the subjects. The floor and rug are nearly done, but I need to finalize the details, especially in the floor, to give it a little bit more contrast. Both dogs have lots of loose, flowing fur which I can draw right on top of the background, filling out their figures and giving them both their familiar fuzzy shapes.

I can also finalize the details in the rest of the fur, but most importantly their faces, those eyes and noses and ears that are our most familiar features of our pets since we look at them most often. I paint until they look back at me.

painting of a dog and cat

Rocky, the dog, and Bullwinkle, the cat, pastel portrait © B.E. Kazmarski

The above portrait is for a certain wife. Happily enough about ten years ago I did a portrait of Rocky and Bullwinkle for said wife to give to her husband. What a wonderful set of circumstances.

I put together this portrait from many images of the two individually and together. I particularly liked the one of Bullwinkle on the floor with the repeated shadows and highlights, so I made that the basis of the portrait. We wanted to work some jewel tones into the background because they were predominant in the house, but we couldn’t go too dark since Rocky was mostly black. That was how this portrait came to be.

I’ll have an update very soon, since this needs to ship out on Friday!

You can see other portraits of dogs I’ve done, including progress images in Lassie and Buddy, and you can visit my website to see my portfolio of commissioned dog portraits. You can also view portraits of my cats, portraits of other cats, and portraits of people as well as other artwork commissioned and otherwise.