Featured Artwork: Sophie and Ellie, Being Very Good

 “Being Very Good”, pastel, 12 x 18, 2007 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Being Very Good”, pastel, 12 x 18, 2007 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I’ve been adding my canine artwork to Portraits of Animals so I thought I’d take this week to share a portrait of two very good dogs named Sophie and Ellie from ten years ago.

Sophie and Ellie were indeed being very good—they lived right next to a busy walking trail and they were not permitted to bark at the passersby, and they did not make a sound. This portrait of two best friends is very autumnal in tone, and I always think of it as being an autumn portrait for all the fallen leaves around Sophie, a border collie, and Ellie, a bichon frisé.

I never know how or from where a portrait will come to me. This portrait was commissioned as a gift for a man to give to his wife for her birthday. I know the man’s mother (actually the woman who brought Peaches and Cream to me), and she is familiar with my portraits and other artwork and work in general. She suggested this to her son as a gift and put us in touch, yet through the entire process I didn’t have the chance to meet him or his wife or Sophie and Ellie since they all live near Denver. I completed the entire portrait by communicating electronically, a little disconcerting but with good communication it works just as well.

photo of two dogs
The photo I really liked.

First, he had no shortage of photos so I could browse through a folder of images to get to know their physical characteristics and their personality and habits. They always cuddled together and he first had the idea of the two of them together inside somewhere, on a chair perhaps.

Nearly always when I browse photos for portraits I’ll begin to visualize, and sometimes one particular photo will leap out at me as “the one” and I’ll then begin to actually build the portrait in my mind, even seeing the pastels or paints, the paper, the finished portrait coming to life. The inspiration isn’t just the image, but after reviewing the photos and hearing about them the visualization also includes what suits their personality. I may need other photos to support it for detail or background, but it all comes together.

In one of the groups of photos was included the photo at left, absolutely too cute, and that was it. Their faces were alert with playful interest, their fur in natural light was rich—light fur is just as difficult to express fully as dark fur, it included details of Sophie’s ears and Ellie’s tail that I didn’t see in other photos, and there were many photos of them on this patio and the colors were wonderful.

photo of two dogs
One of the others in that series.

I told him how much I liked this photo and that I thought this would be a good portrait, though it had a few issues. For one thing, the space he had for the portrait was horizontal, and you can’t see all of Sophie. He liked the photo as well and told me they lived right by a walking and biking trail and Sophie and Ellie loved to watch the people but they were not allowed to bark. And they were not barking. The were being very good. That did it for me.

He sent me a few others from this series of photos, like the one at right, and we discussed it a little further. Ellie was darned cute leaning crouching with her butt in the air, and the outdoors with all the leaves and plants was wonderful as they all spent a good bit of time out there, but we didn’t want all that extra concrete, and we’d have to make the two dogs smaller in order to fit them into the size he wanted.
I put together a composite using all the features we liked and began the portrait.

Detail, Sophie.
Detail, Sophie.

I really liked Sophie’s tipped ear, her spots and the multitude of other colors in her fur, pink in her ears, light brown eyes, and she looks as if she’s just about to say something, she’s really working hard to hold it in.

Detail, Ellie

A bichon frisé has so many different types of fur in its coat, all curly to some extent but each a different texture, and reflecting light different. I used layer upon layer of different colors of pastel ending with the white highlights to create the fluff from Ellie’s face to her toes.

I would love to show off the details in the background, from the patterns in the concrete just to make it more interesting than a gray area, the layered tiny locust leaves, each a different shade of yellow, and the Japanese barberry with its bright red berries, but my camera at that time wasn’t quite up to par for photographing portraits, and I hadn’t yet begun photographing individual areas of detail

The gift was a success and I received a thank you from Sophie and Ellie’s human mom.

I like this portrait so much and so do many others—that’s why I use it as a clickable icon for my dog portaits because they are just hard to resist. I hung a print of it to display in a veterinarian’s office as both wall art and a sample of my portraiture and someone wanted to buy it.

“Being Very Good”, pastel, 12 x 18, 2007 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Being Very Good”, pastel, 12 x 18, 2007 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Where to find this artwork

Sophie and Ellie’s people were very happy to give me permission to sell prints of this portrait of their two beloved dogs, and so I offer a variety of signed digital prints of this painting including digital, gicleé and canvas prints, and even offer a framed print, and occasionally I use their image on keepsake boxes and such.

You can purchase a print right here, or visit my gallery of canine artwork to see other dogs as well.

My Gallery of Canine Artwork

My gallery of canine artwork.

It’s a little slow-going since I’m contacting people I’d met years ago to paint their dogs’ portraits. Phone numbers and addresses have changed, and we have much to catch up on with new animal companions and moves. But I want to be sure I have both permission and the best version of each painting. Many I painted and photographed years ago were completed before I was terribly skilled at photographing artwork. But the gallery is growing, and I’ll also be painting more canine artwork that is not a portrait, from photos of friends’ dogs. You’ll read about it here, and you can also check in on Portraits of Animals, or sign up for my e-newsletter, below.

Also read about other current Commissioned Portraits and Featured Artwork

I also feature artwork which has not been commissioned, especially my paintings of my own cats. If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and art assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, I feature commissioned portrait or other piece of artwork on Wednesday. Choose the categories featured artwork.

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

Download a Brochure

cover of brochure
My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.

Purchase a Gift Certificate

Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $50.00, which is the basic cost of a small monochromatic portrait.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates here or from Portraits of Animals if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.

I prefer to look over the work and price the portrait according to how much work will go into it, as described above, but you can either set a budget or get started by purchasing a certificate for yourself or as a gift.

How to Order

  • “Certificate A” is for a minimum-size 8 x 10 black and white or monochromatic portrait with one subject.
  • “Certificate B” is for a minimum-size 8 x 10 color portrait with one subject.
  • Choose “A” or “B” depending on whether your portrait is black and white or color.
  • If your portrait will be larger or have more subjects, add $50 or $100 or more to your certificate value with the drop-down below.


  • Size: 8 x 10
  • Subjects: One
  • Color: black and white media such as charcoal, pencil, ink, or monochromatic media such as one color of pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, etc.
  • Background or objects: none but shading or colored paper


  • Size: 8 x 10
  • Subjects: One
  • Color: full color media such as pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, etc.
  • Background or objects: none but a color or colored paper

Add to your certificate purchase

You can use the second drop down to add $50.00 or $100.00. For amounts over this we’d probably have a conversation and I can set up a custom certificate for your purchase.

You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive when you order. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.

Subscribe to my e-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter.


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!



Friendship Friday.
Friendship Friday.

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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.

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