It’s really exciting to jump from one type of scene to another with Patricia’s book covers. Rags gets into so many predicaments that I have something completely new to illustrate each time. Other cats are usually included too, so I get to paint more than one cat too. This illustration includes a sweet old rundown then abandoned house in my neighborhood I’ve watched and photographed for years, and it also includes two of my former fosters.
Patricia wrote that she was thinking about a background of an old, rundown turn of the century home–one story, about 7 steps up to front porch, with a basement. She wanted a close up of Rags walking forward along a path away from the house with a note in his mouth, or maybe a colorful gardening glove to add some color. In the manuscript she described the garden glove with pink stripes but flowers would be okay—the glove belongs to Savannah, so feminine, she would just need to know before the finishing touches on the story. Rags could also be wearing a colorful harness to add a little more color to the cover as well. We could work the note into the illustration in another way. She also wanted two fluffy white roley poley kittens at Rags’s feet or near him. There would also be other cats around so I could add a couple of other cats in the background.
This would be more of a closeup shot, no pretty flowers on this cover because the place is abandoned and unkempt.
So…okay, I new just the house that fit that description exactly, turn of the century, dark under the roof, steps up to a front porch, a walk for rags, overgrown, this place had it all.
So with what great beginning, how could I go wrong? I swiped Rags from the cover illustration of book number 5, The Colony Cat Caper, where he’s walking with a bag of gems in his mouth. Interestingly, he’s walking with two adult long-haired white cats. I changed the bag of gems to a photo of an old gardening glove which I modified from blue to pink.
Then to add a kitty somewhere. I knew the kittens would be in the grass, and with the taller grass behind and the spruce on the left there wasn’t much room. A kitty would fit on the porch, and a good way to brighten up that area would be to add a calico cat. I knew just the photo I wanted to use—Cream, Peaches’ sister, a way to remember her in a piece of artwork. I used this photo of her with my great-niece from 2005, the little toddler and the elderly cat, and used her tail from another photo and added it on to her.
Then for the two kittens I used a photo of Blondie from Charm’s litter in 2015, a very pale buff, and just took out the color. I didn’t have him in exactly the positions I wanted, but that’s why we have art.
Then there was that note, a faded receipt from a dry cleaner with handwriting on it. Finding a place where it would stand out was the challenge, so I had it floating in the air against the dark areas of the spruce.
And there we are! I layered it all together for my Photoshop comp to show Patricia for approval, then painted it up. You can find Furever Bound on Amazon.com.
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And since then I’ve done another cover too!
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, Secrets, Trickery and Meows, The ImPAWsible Mission, and Meowmoirs of a Kleptocat.
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:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!