Gypsy was just about to turn 21 when I met her, and the challenge was for her human to choose one position out of all those years of companionship by which to represent her. She chose Gypsy’s favorite nap spot, right where the sheers come together at the sliding glass door, holding one side of the sheers open so she could glance outside now and then. She had no pictures of this position, and of course Gypsy did not cooperate by posing, so we pieced it together with other pictures of Gypsy plus a picture of a pillow placed in this spot behind the curtains.
At the time my oldest cat was 15, but I know now that when you live with a cat this long, or any animal or person, they tend to find a fixed place in your memory at a certain time in their life, and when you think of them, that place in time is the face, posture, even time of day and season you visualize. Longer-lived loved ones may change their place as time goes on, but we always have that moment to reference. So it was with Gypsy, and we decided to soften the signs of her age, the deep-set eyes in a gaunt face, slightly matted fur, apparent stiffness and brought her back a few years into her teens or maybe a few years younger.
I remember working very hard to get Gypsy’s calico spots, and how they all blended together, correct, and going back and forth over the edges until it looked like fur and not just stray lines, and the little area on her hip where her fur parted with the curve of her body.
After she lost Gypsy to a brain tumor not long after we finished, her companion told me that she had hung the portrait by the door and every morning she said goodbye to the portrait and greeted it every day when she came home. I was glad to know that something I had done had brought comfort to someone in time of need.
Gypsy’s portrait has always quietly been one of my favorites. The pretty calico, the simple scene, the typical feline habit, were all just so real to me right then, and through the years I honored this by including her portrait in my brochure and using little thumbnails of her image as navigation buttons and welcome images on various versions of my websites, knowing other people would like Gypsy too. This is one of the older portraits for which I only have basic photos for, and sadly I can’t find Gypsy’s companion to catch up on the news and photograph her portrait again. But I’m so glad to have preserved a moment for Gypsy and her person, and for the lesson I learned about finding a place in time to remember.
This portrait is drawn with my first set of Rembrandt soft pastels and Conté pastel pencils on Canson mi-tientes paper, on the smooth side. Looking back on it, I don’t know how I managed to capture the level of detail but I guess visualizing your finished piece helps give you a goal in figuring out how to make what’s on your paper look like what’s in your head.
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.
Take a look at other portraits and read other stories
Read articles 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.
Download a Brochure
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 $50.00, which is the basic cost of a small monochromatic portrait.
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.
Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.
You can purchase gift certificates here or from Portraits of Animals if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.
I prefer to look over the work and price the portrait according to how much work will go into it, as described above, but you can either set a budget or get started by purchasing a certificate for yourself or as a gift.
How to Order
- “Certificate A” is for a minimum-size 8 x 10 black and white or monochromatic portrait with one subject.
- “Certificate B” is for a minimum-size 8 x 10 color portrait with one subject.
- Choose “A” or “B” depending on whether your portrait is black and white or color.
- If your portrait will be larger or have more subjects, add $50 or $100 or more to your certificate value with the drop-down below.
CERTIFICATE A $50.00
- Size: 8 x 10
- Subjects: One
- Color: black and white media such as charcoal, pencil, ink, or monochromatic media such as one color of pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, etc.
- Background or objects: none but shading or colored paper
CERTIFICATE B $100.00
- Size: 8 x 10
- Subjects: One
- Color: full color media such as pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, etc.
- Background or objects: none but a color or colored paper
Add to your certificate purchase
You can use the second drop down to add $50.00 or $100.00. For amounts over this we’d probably have a conversation and I can set up a custom certificate for your purchase.
You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive when you order. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.
Art and Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Give the gift of art, and a portrait of a beloved pet
Is there an animal lover on your list who has every cat or dog-themed t-shirt and handbag, and even their pets have every toy they can use for the rest of their natural lives? Consider a Commissioned Portrait Gift Certificate. Whether it’s for someone else or yourself, a custom portrait is different from a professional photograph because we can create the scene that you remember even if you never had the chance to photograph it. Your household of animal companions can be grouped in a natural setting even if their lives didn’t overlap. Purchase a certificate here or on Portraits of Animals.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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.
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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! —