Marketplace: “Sunday Morning”, and the Winter Cats set

pastel painting of cat on bed
“Sunday Morning”, pastel and charcoal on Canson paper, 19″ x 26″, 1989 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A Formerly Feral Kitty Finds Her Place: Sunday Morning

Moses made it back upstairs after breakfast before I had a chance to make the bed, and I didn’t have the heart to move her. So I got a sheet of drawing paper and my pastels and did a quick sketch of the scene, finishing it later from a photograph.

It was a pleasure to work in a looser style and just to catch the mood and all that wonderful winter light filling the ruffled batiste curtains through the east and south facing windows, sweet Moses being bold out in the open on the bed. I painted this on a Sunday morning very like today, early January, overcast with cool, diffuse snow light filling the upstairs rooms.

Look at the date: 1989, very early on in my career. I knew of one kind of pastel drawing paper and had cheap pastels and colored chalk, not sure whether I should make the investment in “real” pastels, and I had my cats. I guess that was all I needed. Now, years later, it’s a marvel to look at what I did with so little experience—if I did this as a daily sketch today I’d be glowing with pride and thrilled to share it.

But in this painting I also have this memory of a house I moved from long ago, and a happy scene with gentle little Moses that conveys more than the photograph ever could. Though no one but me would recognize her, I know this signifies a new confidence Moses had grown to feel that year, two years after she’d come to me, and that would grow slowly, slowly over the next 17 years.

pastel and charcoal portrait of cat on bed
Sunday Morning, detail of portrait

Though I have the photos from that day and others they don’t bring back the depth of memory my painting does. At that time in my life, Sunday was the only possible day of the week I would have had the time to feed cats and have coffee and make the bed later in the morning, and do a sketch without worrying about being somewhere, and that’s why it’s titled “Sunday Morning”, for all it conveys to me. When I look at the painting I remember that moment I went upstairs and walked toward the bedroom to make the bed, of seeing Moses tucked into the covers, feeling very safe and warm, and that thrill of happiness for me that she felt so secure. I remember looking at her and thinking about her, but because a human looking at her for any length of time still frightened her I let my eyes wander around the room, looking at the light and the colors, and then the magic happened and I saw this sketch.

I crept quietly away so that I wouldn’t disturb her and cause her to move in any way before I could photograph her with my old fully manual Pentax film camera. I kept my camera and most of my art materials in the other bedroom right next door, got the camera and tiptoed back for a photo or two, and though that was often enough to make Moses suspicious her raised eyebrows and slightly opened eyes seemed amused instead.

I had already worked myself to deeply realistic skill with “Waiting for Mom”, and was then relaxing a little and experimenting with a looser style. As I had worked my way through media from pencil to ink to acrylic, oil and pastel, I had often adopted this “outline” style, and for the longest time no sketch or painting looked finished to me without it. When I began to sketch, then paint, my cats, I actively worked to break away from it and finally did.

But to that point, all my work had been done from photos, any attempts to draw from a live subject were pretty disappointing. Yet the inspiration was so strong, and my art materials just a few feet away, it was Sunday morning and I had the whole day…

Again I tiptoed away and quietly gathered materials. If I could just get the charcoal outlines on the paper I’d be happy. Also hoping I wouldn’t attract the attention of the other cats so I could focus on just this scene and Moses I didn’t even set up an easel but leaned back against the banister outside the bedroom door, held my drawing board against my hip and quickly got the lines lightly down on the paper. Though they weren’t neat and proportional or really representative of the scene, I continued. I had gotten the basic pastel colors on the paper and corrected a few of the lines before Kublai found me, walking along the banister toward me and wanting to step on my drawing but climbing onto my shoulders instead. The other cats had followed and likely Sally jumped on the bed for her daily nap and disturbed Moses, Stanley and Allegro milled around and Fawn had to have a play session, also likely on the bed.

The moment was over, and my memory might not be entirely accurate, but somehow for me the act of creating a painting, which I didn’t realize at that early point in my career, tunes all my senses to their peak ability and I remember more than I usually would. Whether I actually saw stocky tabby and white Stanley and leggy, rangy orange and white Allegro walking around my feet on the pumpkin-colored carpet as I’ve always visualized I’m not sure, and whether I’m remembering Fawn in one of her endless play sessions on the braided rug and Sally through years of hopping up onto the bed in the afternoon to wash her long white fur and have a long, deep nap in her deafness I can’t tell, but those are also the memories that come to me when I look at this painting. Not just that moment, but many moments, my feline family, my home, a Sunday morning.

And when I got the photos back some time later to finish the painting, I was shocked to see them. They were nothing like what I’d sketched in the draft of the painting, and nothing like my memories. For myself, I captured something much deeper and more real. But, as I always say, that’s why we have art, so we can keep what is real to us in a tangible form.

About the art

I used the texture of the Canson paper to blend my colors into and onto, letting the texture build the midrange tones where two colors mix together, yet leaving the edges soft in the sketch and giving them a soft definition with black vine charcoal. I’ve done this in some of my daily sketches as well, and also used colors other than black to define the edges.

Moses watches over my easel in the corner of my studio, and I continue to draw inspiration from her, the moment and the style, with all the work I do.

Where to find this art

pastel painting of cat on bed
“Sunday Morning”, pastel on canson paper, 19″ x 26″ © B.E. Kazmarski

Original, prints and canvases

The framed original of “Sunday Morning” is available, and I can also sell the painting only.

I also have a wide variety of print styles and sizes as giclee, digital or canvas prints.

You can find these items in the listing in my Portraits of Animals shop on Etsy.

Greeting cards

This image is also available as a greeting card in my “Feline Art Cards” collection and as part of my “Winter Cats” series.

I also occasionally use this image on other gift items. To find all the items in my shop bearing this image, use the search box on my shop’s home page to search for “Sunday Morning”.

~

I love snow light, inside or out, and with the bare trees and anticipating snowfall I’m reminded of other snowy days and the cats who enjoyed them with me. Today I’m featuring four paintings of my cats done in winter light in a looser, Impressionist style, in a series I call “Winter Cats”. Each was rescued from a life outdoors in the cold, ice and snow, and I am glad I could provide a loving home from where they could simply enjoy a snowy day from the inside.

. . . . . . .

A Portrait of an Old Cat: Afternoon Nap

pastel painting of cat on bed
“Afternoon Nap”, pastel on hand-finished paper, 7.5″ x 7.5″, 2004 © B.E. Kazmarski

An old cat, a gentleman,
he has found a quiet spot, upstairs in the afternoon,
and has so perfectly placed himself a little off-center
on the expanse of white bedspread,
illuminated by stark winter light through the window.
(Stanley finds all the best places.)

~

You know those moments where you walk upon a scene of your cats doing something that you always want to remember, whether it’s a regular habit or a one-time thing? This scene was one of Stanley’s regular habits during his last few years; every afternoon he’d head upstairs with intent and I’d find him curled in the same spot on the bed.

All of my art begins with a moment, be the subject my cats or nature or even a more abstract visual theme. It’s where I go from that moment of inspiration that differs from one work to the next. Sometimes I’ll decide on a more formal portrait, more detailed, more planned, to capture a moment. I’ll take photos and write a few notes and keep it in my files for the day when I have time to follow up, and often this is determined by how often and how clearly my original image appears in my conscious mind—sometimes a painting really wants to be done and I find myself visualizing it all the time, other times it leaves and comes back at a moment that is meaningful. But sometimes I’ll do a quick sketch and leave it at that. The image is simple, it works best small, I only want to capture the mood, and there isn’t enough essential detail to warrant a larger, more detailed piece.

With “Afternoon Nap” I decided I wanted that moment. I’d already taken a few photos of him just to preserve the moment and was considering this sort of a scene as a more formal portrait. At his age he slept pretty soundly but I still tiptoed out of the room and ran down the stairs for my stuff. I grabbed my small box of pastels and a piece of my “experimental” drawing paper, choosing a heavy drawing paper to which I’d applied marble dust mixed with gesso and just a little bit of fine fine grit pastel medium, applying it with a brush to have just a bit of texture. I got to work, standing at the foot of the bed to quickly capture the essence of the scene I visualized in that instant: all the shades of shadow and highlight in the white bedspread, the fold under the pillows and the curve of the mahogany headboard just giving enough detail to know it was a bed, and the pastel winter light full of sun and just a bit of green reflected from the ivy on the tree outside the window. Instead of drawing with the ends of the pastels I dragged them over the surface in layers to get the depth of color and shadows, Stanley himself just in simple tonal colors, the only solid detail in his white paw.

It was all over in about ten minutes, and though I’d taken the reference photo I never made any changes from that initial inspired session. In its frame, I have allowed the edges to show, mounting it on deep burgundy mat board. I still have this painting, treasure it for its memory of Stanley as he watches over my office, and use it as inspiration for other similar sketches. You can read more about this painting in “A Portrait of an Old Cat”.

Where to find this art

"Afternoon Nap" framed.
“Afternoon Nap” framed.

Original, prints and canvases

The framed original of “Sunday Morning” is available, and I can also sell the painting only.

I also have a wide variety of print styles and sizes as giclee, digital or canvas prints.

You can find these items in the listing in my Portraits of Animals shop on Etsy.

Greeting cards

This image is also available as a greeting card in my “Feline Art Cards” collection and as part of my “Winter Cats” series.

I also occasionally use this image on other gift items. To find all the items in my shop bearing this image, use the search box on my shop’s home page to search for “Afternoon Nap”.

. . . . . . .

Little Kelly: Winter Window

pastel painting of cat looking out window
Winter Window, pastel, 8″ x 8″, 2002 © B.E. Kazmarski

Kelly pauses in the stark pastel light of a winter afternoon through the big north window in my studio, absolutely still in contemplation as she watches birds flit about at the feeders or Buddy the squirrel making a fool of himself. Kelly is petite for an adult cat, making the window seem vast, and the light is so diffuse that nothing has a hard edge. It is a scene I remember even in the heat of summer.

“Winter Window” is an original pastel on drawing paper I prepared myself, image size 8″ x 8″ painted in 2002 right in my office while Kelly looked out the window, and as often happens capturing that moment of inspiration also catches something essential that more planned paintings don’t. Though only I would recognize this as Kelly and she is facing away I will always feel I captured something very deep about her personality and about our relationship with this simple image.

In 2002 I was casting about for a holiday card image, saw little Kelly quietly looking out the window as she often did; silently so not to startle her I grabbed my pastels and a piece of my “experimental” drawing paper and got to work, standing right in the middle of the room to quickly capture the essence of the scene I visualized in that instant: the pastel winter light different in each pane of the window, the view softened by falling snow, the muted shadows inside, the softness of the bright overcast snow light. But it was all inspired by Kelly’s particular quiet and contemplative nature, I just loved her little shape, her petite figure in the midst of that vast light, and even then I remembered her early history living outdoors with a stray/feral colony; I had always wondered, in these moments, if she thought about those experiences that had so marked her cheerful and affectionate nature with timidity. For me, this has always been a portrait of the Kelly I knew who lived in her happy world with me and her feline siblings, but with part of her still in that other life, and separate from me. Who would know that in one quick visual and a 15-minute sketch I would be able to capture all that? But as always, I’m glad I took the time, and now I have this wonderful memory.

“Winter Window” was purchased by a Creative Cat reader who knew Kelly through my articles, and understood how I might feel about letting go of this painting at just this time. Read more about her here.

Where to find this art

pastel painting of cat looking out window. new animal sympathy card
Winter Window, pastel, 8″ x 8″, 2002 © B.E. Kazmarski

Prints and canvases

The framed original of “Winter Window” has been sold to a wonderful cat rescuer, but I also have a wide variety of print styles and sizes as giclee, digital or canvas prints.

You can find these items in the listing in my Portraits of Animals shop on Etsy.

Greeting cards

This image is also available as a greeting card in my “Feline Art Cards” collection and as part of my “Winter Cats” series.

I also occasionally use this image on other gift items. To find all the items in my shop bearing this image, use the search box on my shop’s home page to search for “Winter Window”.

. . . . . . .

A Colorful Moment, a Colorful Cat: Warm Winter Sun

oil pastel painting of cat in sun
“Warm Winter Sun”, oil pastel, 8″ x 10″, 2000 © B.E. Kazmarski

Nothing is so clarifying as brilliant early morning sun, and nothing chases away the chill of a winter morning. Here, Namir was lulled to sleep by the natural warmth and comfort. While the main body of this work is lit by direct sunlight at that beautiful, long angle, the rest of the work is lit by reflected light.

Yes, this is the header image for The Creative Cat, a favorite painting of Namir from 2000 since he was the inspiration for me to begin blogging. He was a very creative cat, fully understanding the importance of lighting and color and composition as you may have seen in other photos and images of him I’ve share here.

The long strip of sun that comes in the back door early on a winter morning and reaches all the way to the far wall is a prized napping spot after breakfast. I love my chalk pastels but at that time I was exploring the colors and paint-like qualities of oil pastels, which had, up to that time, felt like crayons to me, stiff, unblending, building up in irritating blobs. But seeing this I wanted that impasto feel of paint, and the depth of  shadow to contrast with the brilliance of this medium to capture the covers of my gardening books on the shelf and the highlights and reflections from Namir. I know I began it on paper, right there, and finished it from a photo, but I’m not sure where I ended one and began the other. I was pleased and honored that this painting won an award in the 2001 South Hills Art League’s annual juried show. Namir still looks over the corner of my office downstairs where my working easel stood for year, and which now displays new work.

Where to find this art

"Warm Winter Sun" framed.
“Warm Winter Sun” framed.

Prints and canvases

The framed original of “Winter Window” has been sold to a wonderful cat rescuer, but I also have a wide variety of print styles and sizes as giclee, digital or canvas prints.

You can find these items in the listing in my Portraits of Animals shop on Etsy.

Greeting cards

This image is also available as a greeting card in my “Feline Art Cards” collection and as part of my “Winter Cats” series.

I also occasionally use this image on other gift items. To find all the items in my shop bearing this image, use the search box on my shop’s home page to search for “Warm Winter Sun”.


Custom sets and custom products

Some of the originals are still available (yes, I am ready to give them up); if you are interested in the details, please ask.

"Winter Cats" set.
“Winter Cats” set.

You can also request a custom product with one of these images, and also a custom set of prints, such as a set of canvases all in similar sizes, or prints to go into a set of similar frames.

The example here shows a grouping of 8×8 and 8×10 prints or canvases.

Also keep checking my Etsy shop or sign up for my e-newsletter below to find where else I apply these images.

And also:


cat in sunshine
Reference photo for “Warm Winter Sun”.

Marketplace

The reference photo for “Warm Winter Sun”.

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”, whether that’s here on The Creative Cat, in my Etsy shop, on my main website or even at one of the bricks and mortar shops that carry my work.

Read about creating custom items

Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.

Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace.

It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!

Subscribe to my e-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter.


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.


© 2016 | 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: Bok 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!

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Bernadette

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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