Friday, July 12, 2024
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A Great Rescue and Commissioned Portrait: A Portrait in Oranges

pastel portrait of three orange cats
“Amaretto, Simon and Merlin”, pastel, 26″ x 19″, 1995 © B.E. Kazmarski

DO YOU KNOW your veterinarian’s pets? I do, and early in my career had the honor of painting portraits of her cats and her dogs, all rescues. Each had their story, and it was wonderful to know that my veterinarian felt the same abut rescuing animals as I did. This portrait was from 1995. She is still my veterinarian, and she is still rescuing cats and dogs.

. . . . . . .

Veterinarians tend to be serial rescuers and begin rescuing animals long before they begin their practice. The luxurious Amaretto was adopted as a kitten from the Massachusetts Humane Society when his mom was a senior in college and he grew up in the dorm. While his mom was attending Penn Vet, she found 10-week-old polydactyl Merlin in the stray ward—returned? dumped? abandoned?—suffering from “incurable” giardia, took him home and cleaned him up with no further sign of the infection. Early in her career employed at a veterinary clinic, shy Simon was brought in as a stray who’d been in a major disagreement with a raccoon; the veterinarian who owned the clinic often treated and found homes for strays and abandoned cats, and in caring for Simon she developed an attachment and became his forever home.

. . . . . . .

Another portrait from back in my beginnings, and one of my favorites for both the cats and the composition. They are also a favorite of others—orange cats are a big favorite—and their person long ago gave permission for me to offer this as a print to brighten up a cat lover’s day.

Often I’m asked to pose groups of animals in a portrait, but not too close to each other, they don’t really get along…but these three did. One reference photo showed them all sleeping in curled balls cuddling together on a rumpled comforter and I decided that was the composition I wanted, just with different poses. I chose the poses from a pile of reference photos so you could see all their faces, but I also chose characteristic poses for each including their interactions together, and used the composition to show important physical features about each one, like Amaretto’s tail and Merlin’s paws.

pastel portrait of long-haired orange cat
Detail of Amaretto

I also chose to make the blanket a solid blue which would complement their fur and coordinate with the walls in my customer’s house, and to give it lots of folds so it looked as if they were tucked into the bedding just awakening from a nap. I admit, I went overboard with the folds in the blanket, I love to draw drapery and find it mesmerizing to paint. About to tone it down a bit thinking it was distracting, I decided it actually looked as much like a background pattern as it did a rumpled blanket and left it as it was.

pastel portrait of orange cat
Detail of Simon’s face.

Simon and Merlin both had a habit of pointing the tips of their striped tails upward, so each of them had to show this even though timid Simon had to be behind the two, sort of tucked in between somehow. It’s not really a logical positioning to be able to see as much of him as is here, but that’s the magic of artwork.

pastel portrait of orange and white cat
Detail of Merlin’s face and many toes.

Merlin was named Merlin because he was dangerously wise and capable, especially with all those extra toes. And, yes, she is still rescuing cats and dogs, plenty of them through the years. Below is the other portrait I painted for her at the same time, featuring her two rescue dogs Cassie and Tyler, who were trained search and rescue dogs; I’ve also discussed these two rescue dogs for my weekly portrait feature. We did both portraits together to hang as a set, framed with shades of blue mats and a wide oak frame.

pastel portrait of two labs
“Cassie and Tyler”, pastel, 23″ x 15″, 1995 © B.E. Kazmarski

. . . . . . .

Here is Amaretto, Simon and Merlin’s page in Great Rescues Day Book

cat portrait
Amaretto, Simon and Merlin in Great Rescues Day Book

. . . . . . .

And here is the quote for July:

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~ Anatole France

. . . . . . .

My original version of “Great Rescues” was Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book, a sixteen-month calendar, so sixteen portraits are included in that original version. When I changed it to a day book with only 12 months I couldn’t figure out what to do with the extra four portraits, so I placed them all in the middle of the book to be sure that you would flip past them as you used the book. I don’t want any of the subjects or the stories to be forgotten!

About Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book and Great Rescues Day Book

day book with cat portraits
Great Rescues Day Book

Sherman is one of the rescued cats in my Great Rescues Day Book, an undated monthly journal to record the dates of birthdays, anniversaries and events featuring sixteen of my commissioned portraits of rescued cats along with their rescue stories.

This book is built from Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book, the original 16-month calendar published in 2011 to inaugurate my series of rescue stories related to the portraits I’ve painted over the years.

Click here or on the image of the book at left, or either of the links above to read more.

Also, read more about Great Rescues families, those who appear in each of the two volumes so far. I’ll be featuring one story each month corresponding with the portrait that appears in the book for that month. That means there are four extra, and I’ll slip those in when the story itself feels appropriate.

Read other stories in my Rescue Stories series.


Also read about other 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 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.

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 $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.

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

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

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates here or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.

Enter the recipient’s name
Enter shipping address

You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive through PayPal. 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 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.

© 2015 | | 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!



Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy

Inspire Me Monday
Inspire Me Monday


From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

6 thoughts on “A Great Rescue and Commissioned Portrait: A Portrait in Oranges

  • those kitties Really look like a photo! Pawsome artwork! Thanks for sharing your art with us kitties… -Lil Bear and the Mom.

    • Thanks for visiting Katie Kat ad Lil Bear–nice to meet a new friend! That portrait is a real favorite, and I still look at the details for reference when I work on others.

    • Thanks, Tabbies, I had a great time on the blanket, I love painting fabrics, but sometimes I think I had too good of a time with it.

    • Thank you, Austin Towers! this one turned out exceptionally well.


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