I’m so happy that I found this artwork! I created this art and designed this CD in 2009 but I wasn’t as organized for illustration and other artwork then. A few years later the author wanted me to frame the artwork for her and I was shocked to find that I had no idea where it was. With all the paperwork and crowding here I’ve misplaced a few things—I won’t say “lost” because they always seem to show up if I’m patient because I’ve usually tucked things into “a safe place”. Yes, very safe, not even I can find it!
I pulled boxes from the attic and basement, from under my bed and even in my shed looking for this and never found it—until last weekend when I looked into a portfolio where another project was stored. I was so happy to see it!
I illustrated this CD in May and June 2009 and first published about it in November 2009. Below is what I posted about it then in the context of that time, and you’ll see that working on this CD helped move me to create something else that year.
Illustrating Heal Your Heart
After the loss of so many cats it’s healing now to be a part of a loving and sincere effort on the part of someone who is a licensed counselor and has prepared a recording and book of inspirational readings and information and affirmations for those who have also lost a pet. I had the opportunity to illustrate this wonderful recording, and to assist the author in publicizing and promoting it.
Ironically enough, I began the project just as I knew I would soon lose my Namir after four years of working with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and congestive heart failure (CHF). I can attest to the CD’s effectiveness. His loss followed the loss of five others a few years before.
That loss, and illustrating this CD, also led me to embark on a new offering in animal-inspired art and products: animal sympathy cards. I used the background art for the back of the CD as the background for one of my cards, and also used a number of my feline photographs.
Creating the cover illustration
This was another project that told me I really needed to practice. When Karen and I discussed this I could visualize these pastel rainbow-colored watercolory backgrounds, but they didn’t come easily. I was so out of practice at that time after a few years of almost no artwork with caring for family members, but I worked it out until I got pretty much what I wanted.
Below is my first iteration of the cover. I wanted a golden path leading off into the distance, and then of course there would be a rainbow coming down to meet it. I wanted the feeling of lush greenery around but not green, so I used mottled colors to mimic a leafy pattern. And I wanted that row of little hearts, each a different color. But the first version didn’t come out so well, too contrasty, not colorful enough, it looked as if it had recently rained, and the hoof and paw and claw tracks in the road didn’t really come across. But it never hurts to practice.
Then I sat down again and gave it another try. This is much closer to what I had in mind.
I needed to create some artwork for other areas of the CD too, like the back and the booklet inside. I liked the way the area of the cover illustration on the right came out so much that I wanted to explore it more and paint a whole page of it to use as the background.
I still like this quite a bit. Painting it re-awakened me to watercolors, though it was two years before my daily sketches and brushing up on my skills. Below is the sympathy card I designed using this marbled background which worked perfectly for a “non-denominational” sympathy card.
About the CD
Below is the press release Karen distributed, and you can read it for more information on the CD. It’s still for sale if you think you’d like something like this to help you with your grief. In addition to the two illustrations above I also painted small spot illustrations of pawprints and hearts to illustrate the text in the booklet that accompanied the CD.
Animal Lovers Comforted by New Pet Loss CD
Our animal companions have become more respected members of our society in recent years. From recognizing that people will not evacuate even a life-threatening situation if they can’t take their animals to realizing that a close bond with an animal can help people heal from both physical and emotional traumas, we’ve come to accept animals not simply as possessions but as friends or even members of our families.
Heal Your Heart: Coping with the Loss of a Pet by Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC, is a newly available CD and booklet combination which helps to guide the pet owner through the process of grieving their lost pet. The CD includes Litzinger, a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Bereavement Facilitator, reading comforting messages, pet-focused affirmations, and even a guided meditation along with comforting accompanying harp music. The booklet provides supportive suggestions, information explaining the stages of grief and resources such as books and hotlines to assist the grieving person.
Litzinger’s product is unique in pet loss support offerings. Many books have been written on the subject of pet loss, but few are published in audio form. And while other recorded products offer support in the form of affirmations to carry away or a guided meditation for grieving, Heal Your Heart is focused on the loss of a pet, which is unique in materials offering assistance with grief.
“Heal Your Heart is one of only a handful of audiobooks in the pet loss publishing market,” states Lorri A. Green, psychologist and author of Saying Good-bye to the Pet You Love. “The unique contribution of the CD is that it goes beyond giving educational information or a personal story. It contains powerful affirmation statements rooted in cognitive psychology.”
Grieving over the death of your pet used to have people rolling their eyes or seriously suggesting a mental health evaluation because “it” was “just a dog” or “only a cat”, a horribly disrespectful and painful comment to a person already in pain over a loss.
Not so today. Our companion animals are recognized not only for what they can do for us, but also for their own individual needs, personality and style, and so their loss is also recognized as the loss of a distinct individual.
Litzinger wrote all the text for the booklet and the readings and designed the entire concept as part of her grief response from her own loss.
“The CD is dedicated to my beloved dog children, Pepper and Zep,” Litzinger says without hesitation.
“My inspiration for the Healing Hearts CD came while driving home from the veterinarian with the cremains of my 15 year old dog, Pepper, who I had had since a puppy from a local rescue league,” Litzinger explains. “I was further motivated on my journey to create this CD when my 13 year old dog, Zep, died just four months after Pepper.”
She had originally wanted to create something for veterinarians to give grieving clients right after the euthanasia procedure to supplement the personal support and follow-up sympathy card.
“I created a pet loss booklet for veterinarians, but the CD is what I hope will serve grieving pet owners in a more profound way,” she continues. “Just as I found comfort in listening to a special music CD as I grieved for Pepper, I hope that some part of this CD will help in the healing process for you or the person to whom you give the CD.”
Her loss has not only become the gain of others who will find comfort from her CD and booklet, but also her own gain in finding this new professional outlet.
Litzinger is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Pennsylvania, and although her specialty is career counseling, after her loss and through of the idea of being able to help others she chose to attend a weeklong training through the American Academy of Bereavement to become a Certified Bereavement Facilitator. As part of renewing the certification, she did an internship under the direction of a psychologist through the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement, an organization that hosts on-line chat rooms about the euthanasia decision and pet loss.
“I have a special interest in ritual as part of the healing process and conducted numerous non-denominational animal blessings and memorial services on a personal and professional basis,” Litzinger adds. “In addition to career counseling, I also offer pet bereavement counseling in the Pittsburgh area.”
The CD and book were positively reviewed by Nancy Peterson of the Humane Society of the United States, noted pet loss authors Lorri A. Green, Moira Allen, and Sherry B. True and animal journalists and writers Darlene Arden and Michelle West. In addition, during the two years Litzinger worked on creating the set, she asked friends and associates to review the product to ensure that the content universally appealed to the greatest number of people.
More information on the CD including reviews and excerpts as well as further resources for healing from pet loss can be found at www.healfrompetloss.com.
The book was printed in black and white, but I did the spot illustration of all the paws and hooves in blue. For some reason the bird tracks just didn’t translate for anyone so we left them off.
To dress up the text pages in the booklet just a bit I made a background pattern using a repeat of the cat paws and dog paws that was screened in the background.
Each week on Wednesday I feature a piece of artwork, sometimes a current or historic portrait, sometimes an illustration or an art project from years ago, usually cat-themed, but sometimes wildlife or even non-animal subjects, and even projects from my commercial art life. Read other Featured Artwork posts.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
A Trail of Hearts and Pawprints Animal Sympathy Card
Text reads: They leave their mark on us, don’t they? This line of 5″ x 7″ sympathy cards for pet loss is printed on 12 pt. card stock and includes a matching envelope. They can be purchased singly or by the dozen. Sympathy cards assort with all other 5″ x 7″ greeting cards (except custom printed cards) for a quantity discount. Cards are blank inside but can be customized with your message for an extra charge. Read more and purchase.
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! —