Percy, Ebi and Augie, a Portrait of Calico Cats

portraits of three calico cats
“Percy, Ebi and Augie”, pastel, 18″ x 13″, 2002 © B.E. Kazmarski

Yesterday I told the rescue story of little Augie, the kitty in the center of this portrait, and a little about her sisters, Percy and Ebi. Today I’ll tell you more about them, and about their portrait.

photo of two cats
Percy and Ebi as models, reference photo from customer.

The initial reason for wanting a portrait was to remember Augie, her brief life and the impact on her household, and in this of course they wanted to include their original girls Percy and Ebi, unrelated but adopted together from the Animal Rescue League in Pittsburgh. While the three girls were friends, especially Percy and Ebi, there were no photos of them all together so—twist my arm—I had to visit and we had to look at cat pictures to find the ones we wanted to use, and then I could take others of Percy and Ebi for the details I’d need.

One of the challenges with creating a grouping of three or more, especially when they are calicoes or torties or spotted or some coat pattern that is not symmetrical, is to determine the features you most want to remember, like tails or unique markings, and make sure to include them in the painting. And you have to get all those spots in the right places!

But you also have to position the subjects logically—if two cats really didn’t like each other or didn’t cuddle, it might feel wrong that they were tucked up together in their portrait. Of course, their humans may also want to imagine the moment they might have cuddled, it’s really all up to the humans there. Balancing their physical appearance with their positioning, especially with more than two, can be like a virtual Rubik’s Cube of juggling cats and details that is also pleasing to look at. In the end, we find a composition.

calico cat
Ebi’s alert expression, reference photo from customer.

In this case, I am eternally glad for Photoshop, where I can scan the images, trim them out, and even add tails that weren’t in the original photos, change out facial expressions, move paws around, all sorts of neat things, and often provide as many ideas for my customer as necessary.

But M. and S., the kitties’ humans, had a few lovely and clear photos of Percy and Ebi, especially one with the position we decided we wanted to use. The girls were young here, so they also provided a photo of Ebi closer the age we wanted to depict her; Percy I knew I could work out her age from the photo I was given. And because tails are often the casualty in photography, either out of the picture or just not in view, as here, I also took photos of the girls’ tails when I visited, because, you know, it was very important to get that unique little orange spot on the end of Ebi’s tail, and Percy’s tail was just glorious, as most long-haired cats’ tails are, adding the random multiple colors.

tabby and white cat
Two photos of Augie, reference photos from the customer.

That image also easily accommodated adding Augie. We couldn’t have her lying down because she was so small in comparison to the other girls, but there were two good photos of her sitting upright. We did like the left-hand one because it showed her stripy side and her tail with the little white spot on the end. However, it was the expression in the other photo that was the most important, so typical, but impossible to work into her posture in the side view. It meant not showing too much of her in the portrait but she was tucked between her sisters and her most important feature, that little face, would be prominent.

And I had to be sure to maintain Percy’s dreamy expression (“she’s the ‘Queen Bee’ and we kind of compare her to Cindy Crawford” her mom said), and Ebi’s extremely alert expression as the little clown. We didn’t want a scenic background, just the cats, so I chose a neutral tone to match the tones in her home, and added in a number of other muted colors to give it interest, especially shades of green to enhance the reds in their coat colors.

Below is a detail image of the three faces and some of the background.

three calico cats
Detail area of their faces and background.

And just for good measure, here are detail images of just their faces, Augie, Percy and Ebi.

tabby and white kitten
Augie, the August kitten.
long-haired calico cat
Percy, the “Queen Bee”.
calico cat
Ebi, always alert.

I not only love to get to know the stories of my subjects, I need to in order to be able to create a portrait I feel is accurate. Even if I meet them in person and take my own reference photos, I need to hear their person describe them. I want to capture not only the image, but also the relationship between the two. How else could I paint those faces? And I meet some truly wonderful people.

portrait of yellow lab
“Nelli”, 13″ x 17″, pastel, 2003 © B.E. Kazmarski

I also painted another portrait for this couple in 2003 of a dog they had adopted, Nelli. They had initially wanted to adopt both a dog and a cat but with their schedules didn’t feel a dog would be happy and so adopted Percy and Ebi. After losing Augie they felt the need for another animal companion and decided they could probably work with a dog. A friend was a registered breeder of English Labradors, only breeding her females three times before retiring them, spaying them and offering them for adoption. Nelli had a perfect personality for living with two cats who ruled the house, and for hanging out with humans. Nelli will have her own article some time, but for now, here is her portrait.

 


 

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here 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.


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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 portrait certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

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.

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Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

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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 purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Percy, Ebi and Augie, a Portrait of Calico Cats

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  • August 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm
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    Bernadette,

    What a beautiful portrait, the coloring on the kitties is beautiful. I didn’t know that calico cats could be mostly black. But then when Penny came to my house she had a beautiful base of white and many spots. Sorry, I have always had dogs. I am still going to get you to paint a portrait of Snoopy.

    Sharon

    Reply
    • August 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm
      Permalink

      Sharon, thank you! Yes, this is the world of tri-color cats, where anything goes. Penny was classic with her white body and big orange and black spots like a map. And whenever you are ready for a portrait, even if it’s years, it’s fine. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
    • August 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm
      Permalink

      thank you, Texas, they were lovely girls with a wonderful mom!

      Reply
  • August 22, 2012 at 11:16 am
    Permalink

    Your work is simply stunning. Oh, one of these days, I’m going to get over there and buy some of your stuff – one day – we’ll have to add it to the bucket list

    Reply

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