Commissioned Portrait: Holly on the Rocker, a Portrait I Couldn’t Resist

watercolor portrait of cat on rocker in victorian room
Holly on the Rocker, watercolor, 8″ x 12″, 2008 © B.E. Kazmarski

Holly is a congenial little calico who greets you at the door and knows she’s the center of attention. On the back of the rocker Holly is accessible to everyone who walks through the room and can see most of the first floor of the house.

Here is Holly’s story from Great Rescues:

Holly’s dad was working on his apartment building in a small town 50 miles from his home and noticed a tiny kitten, maybe five weeks old, running from under the porch at the house next door; apparently they were just letting a new litter run the streets until they decided what to do with them. He put milk out for the kitten as she visited the back stairway, then went next door to confirm the kittens belonged to them, asking if he could adopt the little calico, to which they agreed. He took her into an apartment and fed her there, took her to the local vet for a checkup and kept her with him for about 2 weeks as he worked on the building. The neighbor stopped him in the driveway a few days later and said she had promised the kitten to her sister. Holly’s dad immediately replied that he had already given her a new home in Pittsburgh, 50 miles away, and she was no longer available. Later, he secreted Holly out hidden in a cereal box and brought her home.

Holly’s mom and dad are friends of mine and long-time cat rescuers as I described in the story “A Bridge Between the Ages”. Among other things, they own an antique and vintage shop and a business to host estate sales, and Judi has been a serious and knowledgeable collector since her teens, hence their large Victorian house is full of neat and colorful things—and always about a half dozen rescued cats. Both have adopted from shelters, rescued cats much like Holly and taken in stray cats from the neighborhood as well as the relentless parade of e-mails advertising cats who need homes, including lovely but troubled Tiffany, who requires lots of patience to understand a cat who turned out to be feral but was not described as such.

detail of watercolor painting of cat
Detail of Holly.

The scene of this portrait is pretty much what I was looking at when I visited one bright winter afternoon, and while my portraits usually feature the animal subject pr0minently in this case I wanted to capture the colorful and beautiful, warm and welcoming feel of their home where the cats go where they please despite all the pretty stuff.

And I decided that I wanted to paint this as a watercolor instead of my usual pastel, I simply visualized it that way in the moment. I remember thinking, “Neat watercolor….I should probably take some pictures…” I showed the photos to Judi and asked her if she’d mind if I painted from one of them—I’m always sensitive about the interiors of peoples’ homes—and she said that was fine with her and she’d probably be interested in the painting too.

So the scene was pretty much as you see. I was excited at the challenge of the window and the footstool as well as Holly. I used a watercolor block instead of a free sheet of watercolor paper, and the sheets are all attached around the edges and stay fairly flat. The block of paper I have is 9″ x 12″, perfect for the smaller size I wanted to paint.

detail of watercolor painting of cat
Detail of rocker and footstool.

I’ve always been a little uncertain with watercolor and usually traced the scene in this way to make sure I could keep things in perspective (that was why it was such a big deal when I painted “Lazy Saturday Afternoon” without pencil lines, it took a lot of practice). I enlarged the photo to the size of the paper and, covering the back of the paper with the side of the pencil lead, I placed the sheet on top of the watercolor pad and lightly traced the outlines of the image from the printout so that the lead would transfer from the back of my printout to the watercolor paper. There’s always a danger of actually impressing the paper with a dent from the pencil which gets in the way of painting, so this step has to go easy. I also don’t always want the traced pencil lines and in this case I was sure I didn’t because the details were so fine. Tracing lightly not only doesn’t impress the surface of the paper, it also just leaves a faint pencil line which is easy to paint over or erase.

detail of watercolor painting of cat
Detail of windows.

Then to choose the colors and techniques. I lightly painted over each area in a base wash of color to block it off, erasing pencil lines where the colors would be light enough to see them. Generally with watercolor, unlike pastel where I nearly always use a colored paper and work the white back into the area for greater depth, the watercolor paper is white, and anything pure white in the painting is not painted at all, and believe it or not it was difficult to remember not to paint Holly. And even though I enjoy working out animal fur in pastel I was looking forward to her clear calico markings done with a brush and liquid.

The chair is upholstered in velvet and that texture is a natural for pastel and I’ve done plenty of wood tones in pastel, and it was exciting to translate my usual methods from a medium I’m so accustomed to into watercolor. This can be confusing, visualizing one thing but accustomed to creating it in a totally different method! Once I had practiced a bit and was accustomed to the techniques of layering colors to mix and blend and simply deepen with each successive layer, then washing off areas for soft blends and highlights, I was glad for my narrow liner brushes when it came to Holly’s markings, the flowers on the footstool, the lead in the window and the shadows on the door at right.

detail of watercolor painting of cat
Detail of the tree and the door.

One thing I’m a little disappointed in with the reproduction is the right-hand window next to the stained glass window. It’s a plain glass window behind a mini-blind with lots of light coming through, and I carefully painted the shadow of each horizontal slat. You can see a trace of them, but I don’t think you get the feel of the blind. The only reason I mention it is I decided to paint the blind because I felt that area needed a pattern to balance the rest of the painting. With the heavy leafy darkness of the ficus tree on the left, the right side needs a pattern as well. But that’s why studying original art is important, while looking at prints is nice.

And to be perfectly honest, I have always wished I had thought change that blue terry hand towel to something more Victorian, a shawl perhaps. I had intended to when I was visualizing, but forgot when it came to transferring the image and didn’t remember until it was pretty much in place. I did try to remove some of the paint in preparation for a change, but the paper started to show too much wear and tear from reworking. But I can live with this!

Here is Holly’s page in Great Rescues Day Book:

Great Rescues-Holly


About Judi and her business(es)…

woman with black and white cat
Judi with Hilda

Judi is a friend of mine and a customer for my business, so visit the website she and I designed and see if anything strikes your fancy, and if you are local to Pittsburgh, visit her shop Carnegie Antiques where I had my little shop in the back room and also the estate sales she sets up and hosts for her customers.

You can see a little more of her lovely home and photos of her cats in “A Bridge Between the Ages”, and you can also see other of her cats in Out in the Garden, one of my favorites, and sweet since the subject, Houdini, is now gone, and Emerson, which I took just a few weeks ago when I checked on him while Judi was out for a long day with an estate sale.


Prints, note cards and more featuring this artwork

I offer a signed digital print of this painting in archival inks on matte-finish cover stock, centered on a sheet at least 11.5″ x 14.5″ so that you can slip it into a frame with an 11″ x 14″ mat. I can always have prints made for you in other sizes or on canvas or other materials, and I can also custom frame your print or custom cut a mat for a frame you already own. Visit my Etsy shop for details about prints. Visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on ordering a custom product.

This image is also available in my set of Feline Greetings Art Cards on Etsy. You can also purchase a single card or a dozen in a box on my website, and I’d be glad to make up a special box for you, just ask.

And I’m currently designing two completely new products with this image and I’m so excited but I have to wait until my trials with them work. Hopefully I’ll be able to share them come April!

You can also find this image at my Fine Art America site

You can also visit my Fine Art America site for other types and sizes of prints of this painting, including canvas and acrylic and matted and 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.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

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

cover of brochure
My Portraits 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

sample portrait certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait 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.

Enter the recipient’s name
Enter shipping address

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.


Subscribe to My E-newsletter


 


Announcing the 2013 BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Awards!

An awful lot of bloggers bring you an awful lot of information and entertainment each day.
If you enjoy what you read, here’s a way to thank them all!

You have the chance to nominate your favorite blogs in 12 different categories, and a panel of professionals judge the finalists you’ve chosen.

Nominations are now open, through 3:00 PM EST Friday, March 8.

The categories are:

  • Best Blog Design: judged on overall design elements of the blog homepage/landing page.
  • Best Blog Writing: judged on overall writing skill – is the message clear to the reader? Is the writing well-done? Is the blog post free of errors?
  • Best Humor Blog: judged on overall sense of humor – does it make us laugh?
  • Best Bark Blog: judged on the content as it applies to dogs and dog parents.
  • Best Meow Blog: judged on the content as it applies to cats and cat parents.
  • Best Wiggle Blog: judged on focus of blog toward non-traditional pets (i.e. ferrets, guinea pigs, chickens, etc.)
  • Best New Blog: less than one year old, with good content and engagement.
  • Best Cause Blog: judged on message, purpose and results as demonstrated on the blog.
  • Best Video on a Blog: judged independently (one video per blog); is it well done, focused, creative and purposeful?
  • Best Photo on a Blog: judged independently (one photo per blog); is it well done, focused, creative and purposeful?
  • Best Facebook Design: judged on overall design of Facebook header and use of special Facebook page features.
  • Best Twitter Design: judged on overall design elements for Twitter profile background.

I have my favorites who I read each day! I’m sure you do too, so click on over to BlogPaws, read the information, and vote!
It’s one way we can thank them for providing quality content we enjoy reading, day in and day out.

Here is the information you will need about The Creative Cat:

Blog Homepage: www.TheCreativeCat.net

Contact Name for Blog Owner: Bernadette Kazmarski

Contact Email for the Blog Owner: bernadette@bernadette-k.com

As part of the nomination you are requested to explain in a few sentences why you’ve chosen your nominee.

 

Click here to go to the nomination page.

 

Mimi and her Fantastic Four children, as well as Cookie and Kelly, and Peaches and Namir and all the members of my feline household, and all the kitties whose stories you’ve shared and who’ve found homes through our readers thank you, even if we are not your nominee, because you help all of us.


Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


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.

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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats. From catchy and creative headlines to factual articles and fictional stories, The Creative Cat provides constant entertainment and important information to people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

2 thoughts on “Commissioned Portrait: Holly on the Rocker, a Portrait I Couldn’t Resist

    • March 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm
      Permalink

      Caren, it was the colors that got me! And I love to show the texture of watercolor paper, it just gives it a more authentic feel. Thanks!

      Reply

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