Here’s a little more Mimi art for your Sunday, and while she is feeling overall well it can’t hurt to bring her some more good feelings by sharing things she’s inspired, like these garden flags featuring art inspired by her just being herself. Mimi is very well represented among my garden flags and I actually have four designs featuring her, though one is sold out, but that’s more than any other cat in my feline family.
This is also inspired by our times out in the yard. Now that the weather has warmed up and the clouds cleared away, Mimi and I have been enjoying our time outdoors. Well, she has been, but I’ve been alternating between taking 4GB of photos and cleaning up the mess I did not clean up last fall. But Mimi is happy and that’s what counts.
Cleaning up includes taking in my garden flags while I work on the flower beds, and deciding which flags I’ll put out next, and I always have at least two of Mimi out there!
Garden Sketch With Mimi
Each flag has a design on both sides, in this case it’s the same on both sides, but mirrored. This art is “Garden Sketch With Mimi”, originally 5″ wide x 7″ high on 90 lb. watercolor paper signed and dated 6/27/13.
This was not what I’d intended to paint that day but I like it anyway. It’s Mimi napping in the shadow on the cool bricks among the geraniums, near the vintage aluminum tub where I grow pole beans. Mimi was so happy to be outside she only rested in each position for less than a minute, and the sun was in and out behind the clouds. The temperature was in the 90s and we weren’t doing much but looking for a comfortable spot.
I had wanted something a little tighter in detail, but I like the details this one has. I did a light pencil sketch underneath because it’s so small I knew I’d run out of space if I didn’t give myself some guidance about Mimi, the geraniums and the barrel, but aside from that I just painted.
In part I was using the quick and easy eight-color grade-school watercolor set that’s easy to carry and use. I really need to get a set with a greater color range if I’m going to paint outdoors.
But what was my purpose with this painting? Sometimes I sit down to capture the details of the moment, and some day I’d like to do just that with the reference photos from this, but with my actual sketch, and all my daily sketches, my purpose is just to capture the essence of the moment and share what moved me to render the scene. In this case it was a relaxed Mimi in the shade on a hot morning, stretched on those familiar bricks next to the cool anodized aluminum tub where I’ve always planted pole beans and surrounded by my geraniums saved from year to year. It was a scene I loved for my love of my garden, my appreciation of Mimi relaxing in a place she’d once hunted for food to feed her kittens, and the memory of the generations of cats before her who enjoyed that very spot, this little patio and the verdance of my garden.
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Mimi Among the Geraniums
When I did these sketches the geraniums were not blooming because they were indoors and it was March. I love my flowers and ground covers and trees and and I’ll plant flowers in just about anything that stands still, but I’ve really never been the type for garden doodads, like fancy pinwheels and decorative wooden cutouts and chairs and…garden flags. But I’ve found I really enjoy these, and not just because they are my art, or they have cats on them. They move a little all the time, gently waving with the slightest breeze, and sometimes quite a lot when it’s windy. In winter I can hear them outside at night flapping in the wind, and on winter days, when I actually like the mix of gentle earth tones in snow and dried plants, they brightened the corners near my walk when the clouds had been around long enough. Now they are mixing nicely with the emergent greenery of spring.
This garden flag is made from two daily sketches from March 2012 where I’d sketched Mimi on the windowsill at the top of the step with the leaves of the geranium draping down over the side of the pine wardrobe, both Mimi and the geraniums soaking up the sun.
Mimi Among the Geraniums 1
(On the left) Mimi enjoys a sunbath on the windowsill on the landing, which gets full morning sun. It’s only 18″ wide and 8″ deep, not really big enough for too many cats at one time, so it’s a prized spot, warm and cozy, with a great view. And when the window is open the breeze is wonderful and brings in lots of sounds and scents for kitties to dream about.
Of course there is quite a bit of reflected light on Mimi’s black fur, which we know is not entirely black but quite brown. I had intended to sketch her in black for a contrast of her with the green leaves, but then I saw the colors and all was lost
I hope she does this again when I have the time to sketch her—I’d like to try it in other media, brush markers and watercolor pencils.
I did catch her in marker a few days later.
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Mimi Among the Geraniums 2
(On the right) Well, the last time I sketched this in colored pencil I was hoping I’d have the chance to capture it in brush marker, so today I did.
The markers don’t blend as well as colored pencil, but Mimi enjoys her sunbath in a slightly more abstract way because it’s just her and the leaves. This morning was too cold to have the window open, but that made the little windowsill like a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s warmth in the corner with her.
I like both sketches. There are elements of both mix of tones in the colored pencil and in the brushy bright solids of the brush markers. Soon those geraniums will go outside for the summer and the chance will be gone, but we’ll see what else I can do before then.
You can find the Mimi Among the Geraniums garden flags in my Etsy shop.
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Cats After van Gogh: In Window Light
This image of Mimi reclining on the windowsill backs “Two Cats After van Gogh” for a van Gogh-inspired garden flag.
I’m so pleased this design won both a Muse Medallion and the President’s Award in the 2013 Cat Writers’ Association communications contest, and I want to share the design.
A bit about the designs
First, “In Window Light”:
Here Mimi lounges in the light from the window, slipping in under the mini blind. Who doesn’t know that posture of the vigilant kitty, not sleeping, just kind of hanging out and waiting for…well, humans tend to be pretty dull, but that gives kitties a lot of resting time. In the strength of the sun, all colors appear in her fur and on the old marble windowsill and the hot yellow sun outside the window, and I’ve no doubt Mimi enjoyed her nap.
And then, when I first painted “Two cats After van Gogh” I posted my impressions and reasons for the style I’d used in oil pastel:
I am channeling Vincent van Gogh tonight, trying to work the same energy and form I see in his brush strokes. I can layer with oil pastel, but can’t apply or build up the thickness of medium that can be accomplished with paint; this sketch is also quite small, about 6″ x 5″, so I can’t work all the little strokes in as I’d like, but perhaps I’ll actually try this on canvas at some point, and something a little bigger.
You can find the Cats After van Gogh garden flag in my Etsy shop.
About the flags, and Mimi the model
Mimi is sure if she shows you how nice the flags look you’ll definitely want to get one. Would you refuse Mimi’s direct look? I certainly don’t!
Below, Mimi rubs her face on the basket and looks endearing. She is such a professional! She was also the model for two of the flags you see in this photo, and she is also on the back of one of them!
About the flags
At left Mimi reviews the selection of flags, happy to see that she is represented several times, as are her children. Mimi is not included with your order, I need her here to model for more art, supervise their design, and especially act as art director for our back yard photo shoots.
These are digitally printed on a product called digital satin, a woven product intended for outdoor as well as indoor use. It’s heavier than the nylon most other flags are made of, but if I’m judging by the the survival of the ones I have outdoors now this is tough and durable material, no fading, scratches in the finish, fraying or wrinkling of the flag in any way. I’m sure, like any other product, if the flag is in direct sun for more than four hours per day it will eventually fade, but the testing worked better than I’d thought. You can read about the development of these flags as well as backyard testing and a photo shoot with Mimi and me in Backyard Product Development and Testing With My Assistant, Mimi.
The flags are printed flat and, after an inspection by either Mr. Sunshine, my engineer cat as shown below, or Mewsette as seen here, I fold over an stitch the pocket on each. They are then inspected by one or more felines prior to packaging.
I love this product, and I’ve enjoyed developing and designing it, combining my skills as a commercial artist, print buyer and fine artist. They are printed on a special paper stock which one of my regular printers had introduced to me several years ago and I knew as soon as I saw it that I could finally have the garden flags I’d been envisioning imprinted with my artwork. I had proofs made, sewed pockets in the top, and off I went.
Each flag takes a number of steps to produce, and that can add complications to any product, but last year I introduced a dozen different designs, then added holiday designs. They sold well so I continued developing new designs and planned reprints. But last year production met with difficulties, and the garden flags I had printed last year were also not waterproof so I have decided to discontinue them. I guess you might say at this point that these are “Limited Edition”!
At left Mimi models her favorite design, I presume, since this was when she chose to saunter over and rub herself on the bracket even though she is featured in three other designs.
This one, “In Afternoon Light” also includes Mewsette as the two sit quietly on the windowsill in my studio. This design is sold out, unfortunately, so you can’t enjoy the two girls in their quiet solitude, at least not on a garden flag.
Again, Mimi is not included with your order, I need her here to act as art director for our back yard photo shoots.
I hope you enjoyed the art and photos of Mimi! We are having a truly lovely day here today, and now I think it’s time for Mimi and I to go back outside and enjoy the late afternoon light. And who knows? We may even do some new artwork.
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This post is linked to Inspire me Monday Week 171
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile 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!