And now for cover number 17, A MEOWvelous Witness. It’s time to go to the dark side…
Patricia described what she had in mind.
I have a new book in the works. I’m thinking of calling it, “One Dark and Catty Night.” Rags and Dolly (the tabby) see something frightening out the ground floor window of an old farm house at night. The windows are those old wooden kind that slide up and down. The cats are bristling (puffed up), have wide eyes. Maybe we could show the feet of the dead guy who is lying below the window. Or someone in the shadows, camouflaged, of course. Can we lighten it up enough? I guess we could use the light from inside the house–show the outside of the house dark and brighten the scene using the light from inside the house. The window is in the dining area–that opens into the living room straight behind the cats and the kitchen to the right of them. There could be a vase of flowers on the table right behind them or a kitchen divider a little to the right behind them with small shelves and some do-dads on the shelves for color. Oh, we could also use curtains. I’ve never described the curtains or colors in this farm house, so use what you want–maybe red or blue gingham.
So you see, often the title of the book goes through several changes as well. When I read her description I visualized instantly, knew just the photo I would use for the window and for the dinner scene inside the window. I even knew what pastels I’d use for the shadows. I love it when that happens.
First, the house, of which I used just the window. Of course, an old farmhouse would have a bay window in the dining room, and the was actually the dining room window of the house I photographed. I thought I might use the spruce and the overgrown grass, but that didn’t translate well. I used bits of the shutters above and opened out the windows for the dinner scene inside, and of course I made it night time, just by eye. I also sketched in the silhouetted shrubs as I visualized them, and the shoes of the body lying beneath. For the silhouette of the other figure, I looked out my window at my neighbors and saw one kneeling down to do something at the edge of his walk, and he became the suspected killer…
And then the dinner scene with the vase of tulips. The light that is actually coming from windows on the opposite wall is coming from both an overhead light and the kitchen that is just beyond the dining room.
The cats were small enough that I could sketch them in and then add the details that made them who they are, adding the white areas to “Rags” and the stripes to gray kitty “Dolly”, and their big round scared eyes.
So there we are, another cover completed. As I said, the variety in subject matter is very exciting each time Patricia calls for a new cover. And I’ll have to double up on posting about these because I am already three covers ahead of this one. You can find A MEOWvelous Witness on Amazon.com.
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 and Cabin FURvor.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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!