Featured Artwork: New Klepto Cat Book Cover, “By Crook or By Cat”

"By Cat or By Crook" cover.
“By Cat or By Crook” cover.

Patricia Fry’s Klepto Cat mystery number 20, By Cat or By Crook, takes place in a bed and breakfast that has a few secrets in its walls, including a colony of ear-tipped feral cats who have their own entrance and exit.

Perhaps, since the big old house Iris is restoring is such a large focus in this story, we should use it as the backdrop. How would it work to have Rags sitting outside with his harness and leash on looking up at the house and he can see cats peering out at him through holes in the outside wall of the house. They’ve removed part of the wall to chase the cats out of there. Someone had built a series of carpeted stairs inside the thick walls for the cats to climb from under the house up into the attic (the third floor) of the place without having to step paw into the house. They’re trying to remove the cats from the walls and the attic, then close the wall back up.
Do you think you could create this effect? The cats in the wall are feral. There are three main colors–as these cats come from a long line of resident cats left on the property–there are a black one, a couple of white ones and some white with orange and also white with black–sort of like Turkish van cats.
Maybe there could be some tools lying around where they’ve been working on opening up that wall.
Now, they ultimately find a skeleton in the wall–at the second story level. What do you think about showing just a small piece of a skeleton–a part of a foot might be exposed, perhaps.

Well, right away I envisioned the well-kept and beautifully-detailed Victorian house one street over. I checked it over and saw that, yes, I could accommodate cats coming out of a wall on the second story level, and possibly even a skeleton in that little space. And we’d have the cats sitting on the edge of the roof and Rags looking up at them, seen from behind. It all came together just like that.

Nice Victorian house on the next street over.
Nice Victorian house on the next street over.

A black cat? Giuseppe, of course, but with an ear-tip in the illustration.


Long-haired white cats? Well, Sally of course! All my photos of Sally are on film, so I pulled two that I would use to start with and then amend them to fit the situation, one kitty lying on the edge of the roof looking lovely, obviously I changed Sally quite a bit here.

Sally Reclining
Sally Reclining

And another, the Van cat with orange ears and tail, coming out of the hole in the wall, and I changed her quite a bit here too.

Speckle Sally Walking
Speckle Sally Walking

Because I actually drew this illustration around Halloween, I had plenty of skeletons around for the skeleton in the wall.

So there we are, another cover completed, and I’m actually about to start on cover number 23. You can find By Crook or By Cat 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, Cabin FURvor, A MEOWvelous Witness, Cats in Cahoots, The Amazing CATventure, By Crook or By Cat, and Merriment, Mayhem and Meows.

Bookmarks for Patricia L. Fry's books.
Bookmarks for Patricia L. Fry’s books.

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.

. . . . . . .

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.

Featured Artwork

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.

© 2017 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | 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!



Inspire Me Monday

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

2 thoughts on “Featured Artwork: New Klepto Cat Book Cover, “By Crook or By Cat”

    • March 22, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks, Ellen, it was so exciting to draw that house after so many years of going past it and studying it. Do you read Patricia’s books? I’m pretty far behind, myself!


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