Commissioned Portrait: Stephanie and Jazz

"Jazz and Stephanie", 12 x 16, pastel on suede drawing board.
“Jazz and Stephanie”, 12 x 16, pastel on suede drawing board.

Every once in a while I get to paint a portrait of the relationship between a human and an animal, and every once in a while I get to paint in a different style from my usual portrait, a little looser, stylized, abstract. I’ve never had the chance to paint both that relationship and a different style in one portrait, but I did with Stephanie and Jazz.

When Stephanie described her idea, holding Jazz and looking down at her, I pictured a portrait that centered on just the two of them, softening and abstracting the space around them. Jazz’s reference photo gave me an idea for colors, bright colors like blue and purple and magenta blended together so that Jazz and Stephanie’s very dark hair wouldn’t create a dark portrait.

The reference photo for Jazz.
The reference photo for Jazz.

The focus is on Jazz, looking straight at us and fairly detailed, but a softer focus on Stephanie, and even softer in her sweater and the background. I made the shape of her arms cradling Jazz into a swirling circle to be like an orbit around the sun that was their relationship, to hold them both in that space, to symbolize the whole being their two lives made, the eternity of their relationship. The swirling colors around them extend that ideal beyond the center.

A closeup of Stephanie and Jazz.
A closeup of Stephanie and Jazz.

The presence of light and bright colors would pull the highlights from Jazz’s eyes and fur, and from Stephanie’s hair. We discussed a few ideas and exchanged a few pieces of artwork as reference.

I decided to use a pastel paper that I don’t use too often, one with a flocked velour finish that holds a lot of pastel in the fibers, but resists sharp edges. It’s difficult to scan because the scanner picks up details in the surface texture that you don’t see when looking at it, like the textures in Stephanie’s face. I may photograph this again in softer light to see if I can eliminate some of this.

Jazzy looks great, though. Below is the whole portrait before I cropped it down to its finished size for display. You can also see a little bit of banding across it, lighter stripes that also aren’t there but are just my scanner that needs to be serviced.

The uncropped version of Jazz and Stephanie's portrait.
The uncropped version of Jazz and Stephanie’s portrait.

About Jazz

Jazz was the cat of a lifetime for Stephanie, one in many who shared her life but had a much deeper bond than any others.

“I rescued Jazz (Jazz poo, Jasmine Rice, Jazz flute) from some college students who couldn’t keep her and she didn’t like anyone except me until I got her used to people. She would bite, jump on people and growl and scare everyone, but she loved me, talked all the time and purred constantly. I got her to calm down a lot to the point where her worst was just sitting across the room and staring at people.

“She slept under the covers with me every night, loved her cheeks scratched and was very intelligent (she just knew things, especially if people were bad eggs). She always responded to questions, so cute.

“She’s the love of my life. I have had many cats, but she and I had a connection I don’t think I will ever find again. She died of kidney failure in July 2014.”

It sounds as if Jazz and Stephanie were meant to be together. I’m so glad I got to share this special relationship just a little bit. And I thank Stephanie for her patience in the time it took me to finish this portrait with all my stops and starts in the past few years.

Also read about other current Commissioned Portraits and 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.

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.

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 Commissioned Portrait Certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait 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.


  • 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


  • 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.

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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 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.

© 2017 | | 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!



Friendship Friday.

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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.

4 thoughts on “Commissioned Portrait: Stephanie and Jazz

  • April 26, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    A beautiful story and a lovely portrait. Jazz cradled in the all-powerful circle of loving arms.

    • April 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      Thank you, Walksoftlyand. I’m so glad I had the chance to paint it.

  • April 26, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Your portrait of Stephanie and Jazz is beautiful. I love everything about it.

    • April 26, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you, Linda. Thank you for taking the time to tell me.


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