Forget-me-nots, and a Spring-themed Greeting Card

photo of cat behind lace curtain with forget-me-nots

Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things

The forget-me-nots are beginning to bloom as they grow taller more quickly, an inch or two each day, in the pots in the windowbox under my dining room window. Each year when I transplant them from the yard and put the pots in place I remember Sophie and this particular beautiful moment. I’ll always be happy I managed to catch it in a quick little snap on my first tiny digital camera as I left the house one evening in spring several years ago.

Sophie was in one of the windows when I left and when I returned in all seasons, and she always managed to use the curtains to dramatic advantage. This is one of my fondest memories of her, nestled in the creamy lace, and now that she is gone the forget-me-nots have a special meaning for me.

Read more on Portraits of Animals Marketplace…

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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.


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!"

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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.

 


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.

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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.


Happy New Year with Sparklies: From A Year Ago

black cat with fuzzy crocheted collar

A sparkly new year's wish for everyone!

Because we’ve been preoccupied with Cookie, we couldn’t create a new year wish for you, but Mewsette was so beautiful in her photo shoot last year she deserves another year of greeting our readers!

On behalf of my household of kitties, Mewsette wishes you and yours a happy new year!

black cat with crocheted collar

Faraway Expression (I'd rather be birdwatching than wearing this thing around my neck).

She’s modeling my latest crochet scarf with vintage pin, and the little sparks of color and the shape of the pin brought to mind fireworks. She has the greenest eyes of the group, too, and I wanted to highlight that with the background.

black cat with crocheted collar and vintage pin

Mewsette Coquette (are you actually going to give me that treat or just wave it so I'll look at it?)

I’ve never been one to dress up my cats, but I’ve been handling Mewsette and her brothers since they were three days old and somehow decorating this family of nearly solid black cats seems like the natural thing to do.

This extemporaneous photo shoot developed after I tried to photograph the scarf but certain kitties decided it was meant to be a toy—I have to admit they have a few toys that resemble this—and in the ensuing activity someone ended up wearing it.

And they tolerate it, in part because they inherited their mom’s sweet personality and are the nicest family of kitties I’ve ever known (in a lifetime of kitties), and perhaps also because I’ve been handling them all their lives. They put up with a lot of stuff from me, but of course, the benefits are many.

black cat with crocheted collar and vintage pin

Dignified (I'm just letting you know that I'd done with this thing around my neck now).

They are now three years old, so it’s time to put them to work!

I think Mewsette has a true career as a model—I’ve included a few more shots from this session along with Mewsette’s comments.

Her brothers were spared the indignity of having to wear this thing, but their day will come.

It’s a little difficult to tell, but I’ve included the extra space on the right of this last photo so you might see how l-o-o-n-n-g Mewsette’s whiskers are.

I hope your 2011 begins on a bright note with colors, smiles, purrs and happiness, and continues to become more beautiful every day!

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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 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.


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 »


Neighborhood Blockwatch Cats

three black cats looking out window

Blockwatch Kitties

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. On this shift, it’s Giuseppe, Jelly Bean and Mimi at their post at the front window, watching the front street.

The others may change, but Mimi takes her role in this very seriously. After all, she lived out there and knows the evil that might be lurking on a sunny suburban street.

“Look, Eli and Emma are going to school.”

“There’s that daredevil squirrel walking on the top wires again.”

“Who’s that? Mom calls those strangers ‘busway people’.”

“I see the Willards have gotten a new computer desk—neat box! Wish we got new things like that.”

“Oh—hey—there’s that big tabby cat who was on the deck yesterday!”

“He’s coming right across the street!”

“That @#$^&%*& intruder had better watch his step!”

“Let’s go get him!”

And with that their shift has briefly gone on break as they and most of the rest of the house run from window to window to watch the intruder cat brazenly walk through our yard and even up onto the porch, yowling and threatening and hitting each other, and that *^#%@@#!$ tabby cat with white paws stands outside the window leering in.


Cookie and I Are Featured in “Catnip Chronicles”

closeup of tortoiseshell cat

Cookie Closeup

Cookie and I can celebrate our 18th anniversary again as we are featured in the January issue of Catnip Chronicles! The more people who get to read about Cookie, the happier I am!

I knew some day I’d hold this position of honor as the lead cat in the household. I was instructed by the best cats in the world just exactly how to take care of my mom and how to be a leader among cats so that you earned respect without having to lift a paw, though sometimes you need to say something.

Read the whole story in Cookie’s words—click here to read the article.


Happy New Year with Sparklies

black cat with fuzzy crocheted collar

A sparkly new year's wish for everyone!

On behalf of my household of kitties, Mewsette wishes you and yours a happy new year!

black cat with crocheted collar

Faraway Expression (I'd rather be birdwatching than wearing this thing around my neck).

She’s modeling my latest crochet scarf with vintage pin, and the little sparks of color and the shape of the pin brought to mind fireworks. She has the greenest eyes of the group, too, and I wanted to highlight that with the background.

black cat with crocheted collar and vintage pin

Mewsette Coquette (are you actually going to give me that treat or just wave it so I'll look at it?)

I’ve never been one to dress up my cats, but I’ve been handling Mewsette and her brothers since they were three days old and somehow decorating this family of nearly solid black cats seems like the natural thing to do.

This extemporaneous photo shoot developed after I tried to photograph the scarf but certain kitties decided it was meant to be a toy—I have to admit they have a few toys that resemble this—and in the ensuing activity someone ended up wearing it.

And they tolerate it, in part because they inherited their mom’s sweet personality and are the nicest family of kitties I’ve ever known (in a lifetime of kitties), and perhaps also because I’ve been handling them all their lives. They put up with a lot of stuff from me, but of course, the benefits are many.

black cat with crocheted collar and vintage pin

Dignified (I'm just letting you know that I'm done with this thing around my neck now).

They are now three years old, so it’s time to put them to work!

I think Mewsette has a true career as a model—I’ve included a few more shots from this session along with Mewsette’s comments.

Her brothers were spared the indignity of having to wear this thing, but their day will come.

It’s a little difficult to tell, but I’ve included the extra space on the right of this last photo so you might see how l-o-o-n-n-g Mewsette’s whiskers are.

I hope your 2011 begins on a bright note with colors, smiles, purrs and happiness, and continues to become more beautiful every day!


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.


The New Portrait Final

painting of dilute calico with amaryllis

The final version of the portrait.

Well, at first glance there’s not much difference between the second post on this portrait and this final version until you look a little closer at the details. At this final stage I add textures where necessary, even out the highlights and shadows, make sure the color palette hasn’t shifted and make sure all subjects are the right shape and proportion.

It’s surprising how easily these details can throw things off if I’m not careful. Up to the final passes for details, I was working over the entire portrait each time, mostly to work out the palette and settle the details of shape and proportion and keeping an overall vision for the portrait. Getting down to details focuses on one are or another and that’s when things move and change.

Here Peaches not only has patches of color, but she also has fur, divining her texture from the blanket. However, in working the highlight from her chin down her chest and adding the nice soft haze of white fur I managed to work the leading edge of her fur out too far and in the process added a few pounds of weight! Poor Peaches, she doesn’t need that sort of thing, but when I removed it I had also drawn over the hazy trees outside the window and had to redraw them.

I clarified the flowers to see each of the petals, and went back and forth with the shade of pink. I had originally used a brighter pink which was not accurate and was too bright for the painting, so I toned that down with a slightly browner pink. I also shifted the blanket from the original bright blue to more of a teal shade to coordinate with elements in the curtains, which would also be in the person’s room, and the blanket’s highlights are blended so it looks fuzzy and soft. The highlights on the vase had made it look very shiny though it wasn’t, and those extreme reflections were also a little harsh for the soft tone of this portrait, so they got toned down.

The most important detail, the sweetest part of the whole image, was Peaches’ face where she has it happily pressed into the flower, her eyes closed, the sunlight shining through the flower petals coloring her fur. That had to be perfect, not photographically so, but in spirit. I enjoyed working many other areas of this portrait, but capturing the gentle shadings and gentle details of her face, her chin and neck and her ear were my favorite part of this portrait.

It will be given as a gift a little before Christmas, and I’ve shipped the framed piece to my customer. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks, and then how her friend reacts. I’m always honored to be trusted with another’s gift, and so happy to be a part of its giving.

Read all the articles about this portrait:

A New Portrait

The New Portrait, Second View

The New Portrait Final

painting of cat sniffing flowers

Smelling the Flower.