Hobbes’s portrait was a gift commissioned by a prior customer for her sister, who had recently had Hobbes put to sleep. The person who commissioned me volunteered for a shelter and also served on the board and had a house full of cats, and had found Hobbes for her sister. She knew a portrait would be very healing for her.
Hobbes was shy but devoted, and there weren’t very many photos; in fact, Hobbes was fairly young when she developed cancer and though they managed to nurse her through the first treatments and the cancer went into remission, it returned a year or so later. They hadn’t had a chance to get many photos of her as an adult before the treatments began and she began to slouch a bit, lost fur and had shaved areas.
Typically I can work around these, but my customer didn’t want either her sister or herself to go through the photos of Hobbes in that condition. My customer ended up providing me with only one photo, at left, but told me that Hobbes’s big yellow eyes, glossy long hair and serious expression were very important.
That was about all I ever learned of Hobbes. I rarely have only one photo to work with, but in this case that’s all there really was. I could get just enough information to start with from this photo, and though I didn’t have a long-haired black cat I knew of a few to observe details of light on fur. I used a photo of Sophie in approximately the same position for some of the details, including the missing tail.
It’s unfortunate her eyes are blurry, but I worked them out through looking at my cats’ eyes and friends’ cat eyes, and determining the best light and shadow for her position. I had decided on the pale blue in the background after asking for a preference, and I chose a shade that complemented her eyes.
Because Hobbes’s tail extends out of the photo I had to recreate it entirely. A cat’s tail habits are very personal and for that I had no information at all, and my customer couldn’t give me any. I decided to take an intuitive guess and used a photo of Sophie’s tail, giving Hobbes a curious curve. Apparently I guessed correctly.
In the end, although I felt a little insecure I’d gotten the portrait to be accurate with all the details I had to fill in, sometimes that intuition works in my favor. My customer saw the proofs and was pleased with how they looked. I heard back from her that her sister felt she was looking at Hobbes when she opened the portrait. I framed it for them in a matte-finish black frame that had a bit of a swirl pattern that somewhat repeated Hobbes’s fur, and we finished it with a little brass plaque with her name on the frame.
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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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.