Molly has a really sweet expression, splashes all over her nose and chin, an orange eyebrow and a little black hat askew over her left ear. Getting a calico’s spots right are very important, no guessing, no fudging. Each is individual, and though you might not remember what those spots look like when you think about your cat’s face, if they aren’t right in a portrait, you will sense it, even if you can’t describe it.
This portrait is really all about Molly’s face, just a little 5″ x 7″ in charcoal and pastel pencil on toned paper and once her portrait was requested I couldn’t wait to start. I wanted to kiss her nose, and rub my finger on it, and stroke those long white whiskers, and those were the things I tried to capture in this quick little portrait. I could correct for the lighting and let the toned paper background help build dimension.
But though her spots are important, in a portrait this small and face-focused the eyes must look at you, and be the expression your beloved pet would give you. Mollie’s eyes are darker in the reference photo and even though I could modify it in Photoshop they were also blurry. But even asking her person wasn’t going to give me what I needed to know; how can you describe your pet’s expressions? She looked relaxed, she looked loving, and beyond that I used intuition, until she looked back at me.
A few weeks ago this friend asked me if I could do a sketch of her and her husband’s parents’ houses to give as gifts and I gave her the information about it. Then about a week later she asked if I could do a sketch of her beloved cat Mollie to give to her husband for his birthday, a week away. The time was a little tight and the kittens were headed for the clinic that weekend where they’d be spayed and neutered and start heading off to their forever homes, but she was interested in just a simple 5″ x 7″ to remember Mollie’s face. She included the reference photo, a little blurry and dark but I’ve worked with far worse than that and knew that a quick little sketch could be done, and also convenient that, though we live far apart, the clinic was between us and the day of the clinic was the day before her husband’s birthday. Sometimes it just works out.
I didn’t realize that Mollie had passed, though, in 2009 at only eight years old. I am usually very careful when I present a portrait to someone when the subject is in memory, especially when the passing was unexpected and too soon. Kellie came to the clinic and I was so excited to show it to her, but she was ready for it.
And Kellie has no lack of artistic skill herself. She decorated the mat for Mollie’s portrait beautifully!
You can see in the photo above that Mollie’s portrait has more detail in the white areas. My scanner kind of flashed those out but I didn’t notice until later.
. . . . . . .
I asked Mollie’s person for a little bit of information about her, but her story is not told simply or quickly. She wrote it up so beautifully I decided to use her words with just a few minor adjustments of grammar and punctuation, and a few emoticons and interesting auto-corrects. I know that many people who read The Creative Cat know or have similar stories of the cats and other animal companions they love, so with this portrait you get a bonus rescue story as well.
It was April 3 and my late husband was working at the bottom of our tiered yard. He said he saw her jumping tree to tree at the base of the yard and thought “thank you my wife isn’t out here!” Then I spotted her out the kitchen window and went running down the yard…I can still hear him saying “noooooooooo”
I scooped that cat up so fast he couldn’t even think about it! In the house we went!
I put her in a kennel and scheduled a vet visit…I had a two story garage at this point and I had a small colony that continued to grow as the years went on…they found me as you know they did. It was mostly a double positive colony (testing positive for both FIV and FeLV) so you can imagine my concern. Thank goodness she was negative! I fixed and vetted her and brought her in to meet my two boys who I still have today 16 years later.
I found out after this that the neighbor down the hill was missing a calico. I spoke with her and said, “I found a cali in my yard, a little girl…she was all of 4lbs when I found her and all of 8 when she was fully grown. I think she was a year when I found her?” The neighbor then says—mind you after I had said I found one—”well keep an eye out for her if you find her”. Obviously she was in a better home…drugs…this was the second cat I got from these people.
Lou Lou was a charming kitty. When you asked for a kiss, she would close her eyes, tilt her head and kiss you smack on and would kiss you as long as you wanted. She would bath you and purr, oh did that cat purr!!! She stole my heart…we could hold her forever…never wanted down, she just wanted to cuddle.
I had her six years before she got sick for the first time. I can’t remember specifics but remember her getting very lethargic and we rushed her in. The vet said she was in liver failure and we could put her down or try and get her to eat and drink. It wasn’t a choice…I stayed home for 10 days from work and every two hours syringed water into her and every four hours food via syringe…she went on Ursodiol and it worked!
A few adjustments in meds over the years and overall she had no other issues, just a quarter of a pill everyday until it happened again…but this time she took a seizure in front of my nephew. We rushed her to our vet who confirmed kidney failure and not treatable. We waited and we prayed…a week later she took a seizure on the bathroom sink after getting a drink. I was there, thank God and was able to lift her down safely. That scared me—if I wasn’t there she could have cracked her head on the ceramic.
We let her go that day to rest with God and to have my first husband take care of her until I could again…you see in the middle of her life he passed away and went to be with God…my second husband is the one who I was with when she got sick. She’s still with us, next to our bed where she slept every night under my husband’s arm with her “baby”, this fluffy toy she had to sleep with tucked under her arm and would lick before falling asleep so for the time being…my first love has her safe with him until me and her second Dad join her.
A few months after her passing we ran into a friend who told us about a little mom that was rescued from a abusive situation and was at a local pet groomer’s shop. I wasn’t living in that town any more and although my heart was still broken I had to meet her, so I went to see this little girl. What I found was a skinny little black kitty no more than a year old with three kittens, her one eye glazed over and oozing liquid. The grooming shop said the kittens had tons of apps but sadly no one wanted their mom, she was a sweetie but needed some love and attention: hair falling out, skinny, eye a mess. “She’s perfect,” I told them, “and I’m bringing my husband to meet her tonight!” We went later that day and the moment he saw her we both said “adopted”.
We made a vet appointment and took her home the next day, and named her Gracie, AKA “Lou Lou”. She got vetted, saw an eye specialist and we fattened her up! Good healthy food, and her coat grew on beautifully. Her eye is treated ongoing when the herpes flares up from an eye infection as a kitten left untreated. And she’s perfect. Although no one replaces Mollie, this girl we felt was brought to us..she needed us like we needed her…our first black cat…this is Grace.
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.
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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.
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My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.
Purchase a Gift Certificate
I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.
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.
I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.
Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.
Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.
You can purchase gift certificates here or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.
You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive through PayPal. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.
Also browse Featured Artwork
I also feature artwork which has not been commissioned, especially my paintings of my own cats. If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and art assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, I feature commissioned portrait or other piece of artwork on Wednesday. Choose the categories featured artwork.
This is shared in Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy.
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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 using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
© 2015 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!