As part of the last “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge in February I completed another Klepto Cat cover, and if you’ve followed me for any length of time I’m sure a portion of this painting looks familiar.
Soon after the cover for Book 27 was completed Patricia emailed that she had Book 28 “fleshed out” as a continuation of Book 27. Indeed, why stop when you’re in the middle of a good idea? She described a scene with Rags, the gray and white cat who “is” the “klepto cat” peering through a window and seeing a dressing table spread with “exquisite jewelry”. At this point Rags could be outside looking in, and that could be cute—we see him from the back looking into a window like a “peeping tom” on all this beautiful stuff, tail twitching, some shrubs around, maybe at night so we see a lit scene inside. He could also be outside while we are inside and seeing him through the window. Either one could be really fun.
But then she said, “There can be a cat inside—would you like to use one of your black cats?” The cat could be posing on the table with the jewelry—possibly wearing some, I thought—or sitting on the dressing table stool—aha!—or curled up sleeping somewhere in the room. “If it doesn’t work to have Rags peering into the room, we can arrange to have him inside. There is a point when he is inside with the black cat. I just thought it might be different to have him looking in through the window,” she continued.
I knew exactly the black kitty who could be sitting on the dressing table stool—and admiring himself in the mirror on the table! I sent the photo, “Gosh, I’m cute!” to Patricia to see that portion of my idea. She liked that as part of the illustration so I worked up the rest.
Aha, this was going to be fun!
Because the character Rags is modeled after, Smokey, a cat in Patricia’s family she often shares photos of him, so when I visit her blog and Facebook page I scout for photos of Rags to use in our covers. I had found one of him peering around a plant that would be purrfect for a kitty peering into a window from the outside.
I asked Patricia what type of house this was because while often the action takes place in a large Victorian house I had the feeling this house was different. This was a smaller ordinary home but the room where the dressing table was found was decorated like a boudoir with heavy drapery. I began assembling the other references for the cover, beginning with a portrait I’d painted years ago and haven’t taken the time to write about it yet because the photos aren’t terribly good from the early 90s. In searching, however, I found one good print that was clear enough to use as a reference. Luigi’s owners had told me they liked antiques, Victorian homes, and jewel tone colors and set me free. I remembered that heavy drapery with the gold-tasseled tie-back, the French door, the classic harp-backed mahogany chair and thought I might be able to work a good bit of that into the scene.
I could practically taste it! I gathered the rest of the images: a marble-topped vanity because, some jewelry and other items.
Alas, as I gathered the other images the curtain was just too much for the scene. Where the title reads near the top it’s best to have a background that is either mostly light or mostly dark, and if it’s patterned, the pattern should be muted so the title is legible. I had flopped the portrait with the curtain on the right instead of the left so Rags could be looking in on the left and behind the mirror, and I also made it a deep red instead of green so Jelly Bean could be seen better in front of it. I tried several ways to keep the curtain at the top, but it ended up not looking like a natural part of the scene. I found another window, took out the sunflowers, but liked the look as soon as I put it in place with Rags looking in. The original selection of jewelry looked a little busy, and Patricia wanted jewelry that looked a little more vintage 1940s so I switched that out on the left. The little spot on Bean’s right just looked bare so I found a single piece of jewelry to place there.
I had relied on the red curtain to add color, and without it it all looked very green, but not very boudoir. That was why I’d chosen the purple bracelet and I added a few other touches of pink, like the pink behind Bean in the mirror, pink liquid in the perfume bottle, and worked up the necklace to be a little deeper pink than it was.
And there you are!
And another award!
My series of covers for Patricia’s books in 2017 earned yet another Certificate of Excellence for my cover illustrations for the Klepto Cat Mystery series! Scroll down to read more.
About the illustration materials
I don’t use paper for most of these illustrations but chose Ampersand brand Pastelbord, which is a piece of Masonite with a very fine clay and marble-dust coating that has very little texture but holds layers of pastel so I can both do my finger-painting thing with blending softer pastels and sketch with harder pastels and pastel pencils, and it stand up well to multiple changes. I began the painting with soft pastels to cover the major areas with layers of color. I finished up the details and edges with pastel pencils.
But once I began working out the covers with all this Victorian detail like PAWSitively Sinister, I needed a little assistance in keeping the details in order so it didn’t take me until next year to do the painting. I used a self-prepared paper with a very fine surface texture and not entirely opaque so I could put it on my light table and trace the details in place and even draw on the light table with pastel pencils. These illustrations are 8″ x 10″ and the books are 5″ x 8″. Because the illustration is reduced in size it’s easy to lose details so I can’t go too big, and especially when working with patterns it’s important nothing is out of place or it’s immediately noticeable. Getting all the details just right on an illustration like this interior with cats can be tricky when it’s this small. The risk with this paper is that the surface is delicate and actually drawing too hard will remove the roughened texture and I’ll have a hole in my drawing! But it’s great fun to take my Photoshop composite and turn it into a painting.
About these book covers
I’ve illustrated a total of 19 covers for Patricia. You can see them below, but unfortunately you can’t click on the images to go to the article and read more about them. Use these links instead: Catnapped, Cat-Eye Witness, Sleight of Paw, Undercover Cat, The Colony Cat Caper, The Corral Cat Caper, Gallery Cat Caper, Mansion of Meows, Celebrity Cat Caper, Pawtners in Crime, Pawsitively Sinister, The Purrfect Lie, A Picture Purrfect Christmas, Meow for the Money, Claws for a Cause, Cabin FURvor, A MEOWvelous Witness, Cats in Cahoots, The Amazing CATventure, By Crook or By Cat, Merriment, Mayhem and Meows, A Christmas to Purr About, Cattywampus Travels, Cats in the Belfry, CATalyst for Clues., The Perilous PURRsuit, and Secrets, Trickery and Meows.
Klepto Cat Book Covers
CWA 2017 Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”
For three years in a row my illustrations for the Klepto Cat Mysteries have won Certificates of Excellence in the Cat Writers’ Association’s annual communications contest. The covers included in these awards include covers 9 through 20, or Mansion of Meows through By Cat or By Crook.
All books are available in electronic format and most for print on Amazon.com as well as find the print versions on Patricia’s website. Reviews have been good, and a few reviewers have even mentioned the covers! I hope you enjoy these books, and Patricia and I are currently working on the next cover. That woman can write!
When we finished book 12 we also updated the two-sided bookmark that includes all twelve books so far which Patricia can hand out at book signings and book shows.
We’ve also printed two runs of note cards from three of the covers.
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Read more about book covers I’ve designed. Also, click here to read more about the Purrs of Wisdom cover and bookmarks, and also about books I’ve designed on my blog, What’s New?
Are you interested in illustrations or a book cover, or book design? Please contact me, I’ll be happy to discuss your project.
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.
Custom Commissioned Artwork and Illustrations from Portraits of Animals
From Animal Portraits to Book Covers to Advertisements
In addition to creating commissioned portraits beloved animal companions for the past 25 years I’ve also been a commercial artist since the 1980s both full-time and freelance and created many illustrations, book covers, advertisements, display signs and more. Visit my Commissioned Artwork pages to read more. They are not quite complete at the moment but there is still quite a bit to look at.
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:
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Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
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