Commissioned Portraits: Pearle, and Belle

"Pearle (in progress)", pencil on illustration board, 22" x 28", 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Pearle (in progress)”, pencil on illustration board, 22″ x 28″, 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Meet Pearle, a sweet and very loved Bichon Frisé, the subject of one of my current portraits in progress.

It must be the year for return customers as it was with Chief Smithers and Mr. Peterson, and I have another in the works too. It’s wonderful to see these families again, and see their portraits again after 15 years or more. I mention that here because Pearle’s portrait is patterned after a portrait I painted of the little Bichon who came before her in this family, named Belle.

Belle’s person found it hard to capture all that he remembered of her in one pose. We actually did two portraits in 2001, one in full color in a pose with her front legs crossed that was to be for a family member, but for his portrait he just couldn’t decide on one pose. But he also had an idea, and that was of a collage of sorts using various poses that he’d caught in photos over the years, and in pencil. I have Belle’s pastel portrait near the end of this post. Directly below is the pencil portrait that Pearle’s portrait is based on. Please excuse the horrible photo—pencil is nearly impossible to photograph. Today I scan the final drawings, but in that day no scanner I could get had the quality. Not only is the background shaded from using a flash, but the pencil finish in large image of Belle in the lower right has caught the flash and looks washed out. But you get the idea.

"Belle", pencil on illustration board, 22" x 28", 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Belle”, pencil on illustration board, 22″ x 28″, 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Note that it’s also quite large—22″ x 28″, so in creating another portrait in the same style the visibility of detail would leave little room for differences.

This was such an exciting departure from my usual portraits, both the medium and the composition. Have I ever said how much I enjoy working in pencil? I truly do, just me and the graphite with nowhere to hide on a white piece of illustration board. Sure, you can erase, but the lines are never truly gone. But the expressiveness of pencil from hard lines to the softest smudges can capture just as much of a subject as any color medium. It was the first medium in which I had confidence as an artist and always one I return to with comfort.

Collages can be a challenge and I hadn’t done too many to that point. Choosing the images and placing them so they have some logical sense together, and choosing only the portions of the subject you want worked in a way that it doesn’t just look as if you forgot a part of the animal could be a disaster and I remember working out that first one while trying to visualize the final drawing.

So just as we worked out the portrait of Belle, we had dozens of photos of Pearle and an idea of favorite poses to use, then an order of which ones to use large to small, and top to bottom. I have the “hard” pencil lines in place and am just about to begin the “soft” smudges to describe all that curly Bichon Frisé fur. We’ve also decided to add one more pose, in the top left, a profile. I’ll update as I work. Below are the views of each of the poses so far, from lower left, the largest one, and clockwise.

A favorite young photo.
A favorite young photo.
Looking up.
Looking up.
Lying down.
Lying down.

. . . . . . .


Below is Belle’s pastel portrait and the reference photo. You’ll notice that her paws are crossed in her portrait, but a good photo of this was elusive. Her person gave me a good photo of her in the correct position and I did the rest with his photos and one good one I had of another dog.

"Belle", pastel, 12" x 14", 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Belle”, pastel, 12″ x 14″, 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Belle’s reference photo.

And here again is the main image and the detail images from Belle’s pencil portrait so you can see the level and style of detail.

"Belle", pencil on illustration board, 22" x 28", 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Belle”, pencil on illustration board, 22″ x 28″, 2001 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Only two detail images were good enough to show here; the others were so dark or blurry, or with too much reflectance in the eyes that I just couldn’t use them. There is nothing wrong with her eyes, that’s just what happens when the light reflects off of pencil.

Detail of Belle's portrait.
Detail of Belle’s portrait.
Another detail, not so good but cute nonetheless.
Another detail, not so good but cute nonetheless.



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.

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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 $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.

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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.

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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 | | 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!




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

2 thoughts on “Commissioned Portraits: Pearle, and Belle

    • May 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Thanks, Carolyn! I adore pencil, and I’ve suggested this type of a portrait to others. I may just do some artwork in a collage like this.


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