My, how time flies. I think I accomplished what I’d set out to do two years ago today, a challenge to me and entertainment and enjoyment for you: to create a quick sketch of my cats each day as a way to practice and experiment, and present the sketch on that day with no editing, no waiting, no excuses, just to do the sketch and share it. I’ve grown as an artist as a result, tutored other artists in the background, and if your comments are any indication also brought you entertainment and enjoyment!
Top Five Sketches
“A Dozen Shades of Gray”, above, is the most popular daily sketch according to a combination of stats for The Creative Cat, followed by “Kitty Shape”, “A Tangle of Cats at the Door”, “Pencil Cats” and “Odilia”. Interesting to see that, though works in color have a great impact when first posted, it’s been the monochromatic works that have staying power, and especially works in pencil which is, as I always say, “my first and favorite medium”.
This year, one of my most treasured daily sketches won the President’s Award in the 2013 Cat Writers’ Association Communications Contest, and I’m also very proud my sketches won a Certificate of Excellence for a Set of Illustrations in the 2012 Cat Writers’ Association Communications Contest.
It’s a joy each time I hear from a reader who sees their cats in these sketches. Being compared to artists Warhol and van Gogh and Monet and Rembrandt and illustrators like Clare Turlay Newberry is a compliment beyond compare. I have treasured each comment from both long-time and newly-exploring artists, those who’ve dropped the brush for decades and been inspired to pick it up again, young artists raised with electronic creativity and understanding the reason for putting a pencil to paper to create a single, unique, tangible object.
The first sketch, and how it began
Not quite daily, but about five days each week you see a sketch of my cats in action. On December 4, 2011 I stated my intention to present a sketch of my cats nearly every day. I’d been tentatively sketching every day or so and decided to try sketching every day, as I had once done. In cleaning out and renewing my old studio last year I’d found sketches and sketchbooks and studied and scanned and shared the images I’d found, quick daily sketches from years before with a different household of cats, bringing back memories of those days. Readers still enjoy those original sketches. The sketch above, “Three Cats”, signed and dated 12/3/11 of three of my kitties curled together on the bed, was the one that made me decide to begin the series here on The Creative Cat. I could picture this one as soon as I saw them, and it was all I could to to sneak soundlessly away so I didn’t wake them to get my drawing pencil and pad. It’s still one of my favorites, too, and even now I can still identify which cats are which so I’d captured something essential about them already.
I was also inspired to keep sketching cats and to share them by my copy of Steinlein Cats, a Dover large-size paperback including just pages from Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen’s sketchbooks featuring his sketches of his own cats. A few of his poster designs from before the turn of the last century are iconic, as I mentioned in a post about a photo of mine that reminded me of one of his compositions.
Remembering the days I had sketched something each day just as a matter of course, and how it was literally practice for my art as you’d practice music or long-distance running, I’d provided myself with convenient tools and took them up whenever possible to catch my cats in action along with my camera.
Both of these activities were to “give me the incentive to do more and different work, to experiment, to be inventive and ‘in the moment’ with the subject and also with my ideas, something that’s rare in my daily tasks of commercial art,” as I stated then. And it was and is important to me to produce creative work each day, both for my personal and professional development and to share the ideal that not only magic can be found in everyday things and events, but it’s all around us, all the time.
But a sketch each day? I’d debated the daily photo the year before but I’d no doubt I could produce a quality, interesting photo each day after looking back over weeks and months of photos…except, the time? I worked it into my daily schedule because the joy of sharing both my cats and my photos was immense.
The sketches were different, created, then scanned and touched up if necessary because basic scanners are meant for documents and photographs, not drawing media—time-consuming, and I still wasn’t certain of my consistent ability. For the previous decade I’d spent so much time with non-art-related things while photography had filled the empty spot for my daily inspirations, I found I’d lost touch with some of my art materials and had lost confidence in my skills. Would I just embarass myself with awkward pencil drawings with no sense of perspective or proportion? Many people think art is entirely inborn talent, but talent doesn’t necessarily ensure skills with any media, and these things need to be regularly practiced as the afore-mentioned music or running. So I did. And to reignite my spark I returned to what set it off in the first place—my cats.
And while I present my finished paintings all the time I decided it was important to present the underpinnings of that finished piece, the humble sketch, and let readers in on a little more of an artist’s creative life. I also felt daily sketches of cats could provide a unique offering by The Creative Cat and add another element to the online conversation and image collections among pet bloggers.
By December 3 I was satisfied that I could actually produce and present a simple sketch each day, nothing elaborate, spending about five minutes, 15 minutes maximum. I stated my intention on December 4, and on December 5 posted my first sketch created that day, “Boys at the Sink”. I was hooked.
Since then I’ve documented the daily activities of my household in ink, charcoal, pencil, marker, gel pen, oil pastel, watercolor and more, discovered new media in watercolor pencils and rediscovered media in oil pastels, developed new styles, explored favorite and new artists for inspiration and brought my skills back to a level I can feel confident about.
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I am glad I had the chance to catch Cookie and Kelly in their last few months in these sketches that in many ways capture more of them than my large finished works—because I am right there with my subjects, these sketches are much more personal than the finished works.
Merchandise and Original Art
And the sketches themselves have inspired me to follow through with some long-time ideas of creating unique items with my artwork on them, like the keepsake boxes and trays and coasters, and the wood-mounted art. I can use the sketches as they are, build from them, or create others in similar style to create a set.
They also give me smaller items to sell as originals. Not everyone has 24″ x 36″ of wall space for a finished framed pastel, and that’s not necessarily what everyone wants. These small sketches usually frame up to be 16″ x 20″ at the most, though many are 11″ x 14″. I’ve been happy to frame several originals to send home to customers. Below are a few examples; click on each to read more about the sketch.
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12 Sketches of Cats 2014 Limited Edition Calendar
You can also purchase a special limited edition calendar I’m publishing this year featuring twelve of the most popular daily sketches. Each page is printed on acid-free paper in archival inks, and the images are framable. A portion of each sale is donated to FosterCat, Inc. Read more here.
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I also offer these for sale as originals and prints. For a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Cat Art and Prints” section.
I can’t list every single one but that doesn’t mean one you’d like isn’t available. If there is a sketch you’d like to purchase as an original or print or other product, visit my page “Ordering Custom Artwork”. You can order a print as a set of notecards or greeting cards, framed or unframed, as a digital print or giclee and in various types of framing and mounting as well as applied to a keepsake product such as a keepsake box or wooden tray.
As for Mimi, she thinks I spend entirely too much time on this because the more I make, the more she has to inspect. Here she stands defiantly (for Mimi) on one of my sketchbooks and demands dinner before any more of my personal fun.
Now for the Giveaway
I love to use selections from my portfolio of artwork to gather into a collection of some sort, finding a theme and then a likely way to present the collection, like my calendars. In my “inspiration collection” I have calendars and art and photography books on all subjects that I enjoy simply pulling out to study, and a few friends and readers have asked if I ever planned to do a book of my artwork.
Earlier this year I created this little portfolio piece, Feline Style Sampler, sketches and portraits, to include in presentations to prospective illustration customers to both show a variety of styles of illustration and my ability to design a little book like this and have it printed and bound. I was very pleased with the way it turned out and enjoyed the response when I presented it and showed it around to friends. When a friend admired it and wanted to purchase some for gifts, I thanked her for an idea I hadn’t even considered, though once she mentioned it the idea was a natural. In fact, I had such an enthusiastic response to it on all accounts that I decided to offer it for sale.
Feline Style Sampler is simply a collection of 34 images, no text or narrative, though each image has the name, medium and size of the image inconspicuously added at the bottom of the page. The book is little, only 4.25″ x 5.5″, and coil bound. All pages are printed on 100# gloss cover rather than text weight stock to stand up to handling and to ensure opacity.
The images I’ve included run the gamut from quick and simple ink sketches to highly detailed commissioned pastel paintings. They are a mix of daily sketches, commissioned portraits and a few of my personal works all jumbled together instead of categorizing them by medium or style. They even span my entire career as an artist with a few of my earliest included as well as very recent daily sketches. You can see a few more samples here.
This giveaway is completed.
Two lucky winners for Feline Style Sampler book
- Giveaway is for two Feline Style Sampler books, two individual winners chosen randomly from comments on this post.
- Giveaway will start today, December 4, 2013, and be finished at midnight PST on Wednesday, December 11, 2013.
- All comments to this post are eligible—if you are not interested, please add that to your comment, but if you are visiting this post in a reader or on Facebook, please come to the post on my blog to comment. It’s much appreciated if you share on social media, but, as always, this is difficult for me to track so it doesn’t increase your chances.
- I will email the winner and announce who won on Thursday, December 12, 2013.
Buy one now!
Of course, if you can’t wait to have a Feline Style Sampler book, you can buy one now.
How to order
This is available here using the button below and in my Etsy shop. It will be available on Amazon.com soon.
Use the button below to order through PayPal.
Good luck, and thanks for reading, commenting and sharing my art!
Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.
Usually 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.
At right is the response I usually get from my cats. I’m either a total snooze or good for a laugh, depending on whether you think Jelly Bean is yawning or laughing. Mimi looks skeptical and rather bored.
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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.