CATS CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE and steal your heart and change your life. These two cats came from anonymous places but filled a woman’s heart, a woman who had never had a cat before and began rescuing because she loved them so much. And though she’d adopted these two in the mid 1970s and had lost them just before I did this portrait in 1993, when I saw her again in 2011 she still had a house full of rescued cats, wonderful, friendly, happy rescued cats, and a very happy human.
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Jasper’s mom had grown up with a love of animals but had never had a pet of her own. When she moved to a pet-friendly apartment her secretary suggested she adopt a cat, advising that cats were low-maintenance. She visited the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society because in those days “that was where you went to get cats”, finding the tabby kitten with white paws.
Jasper, though a barn cat had apparently learned some manners and was “the perfect cat”, so perfect that two years later she decided to adopt another cat and give Jasper a companion. The little kitten she would name Trumpet, simply found on a roadside with his brother, was so affectionate, pure white with his little paws on the rim of the cage, and she found him irresistible. Jasper did not, but the three lived in harmony, both cats adoring their mom and being adored in return.
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Yes, this portrait is from over 20 years ago! I can hardly believe it was that long ago, and I was so new to all this…And I was so happy to look up Trumpet and Jasper’s mom all these years later when I published my first Great Rescues book in 2011.
Trumpet and Jasper were but the first two cats this woman rescued. Volunteering for years at a shelter in Pittsburgh and living near a high-kill shelter in the next county, she has continued to rescue cats and foster and adopt from shelters, also adopting a few rescued Pomeranians. When I visited her there were beautiful cats everywhere, friendly and curious, leaving face rubs on my bags to take back to my cats, and stories of miraculous recoveries of ones brought in from the street; read Irina and Isis, Saved From the Flood.
This was one of the first portraits I painted when I was still using the paper color as the background of the portrait, a style I learned to dislike for various reasons. My pastels at the time didn’t always cover the paper as I had expected and I couldn’t layer the pastel as I do today, adding one color atop another and blending as needed with my fingers, then adding the final detail layer, that technique I’d developed that built dimension. Also because I couldn’t layer the pastel it would dust off the subject onto the paper and needed to be repeatedly removed with a kneaded eraser or the paper just looked sloppy or dirty depending on the color and I lost the details I’d been working. Initially I began covering the background, then later discovered the more textured papers.
Knowing what I know now I am shocked I managed to get the soulful details in Jasper’s eyes and the detail and shadowing in Trumpet’s fur. This was in the days of 3.5″ x 5″ prints, so grasping the details could be tricky, though her photos were good. Jasper reminded me so much of my Stanley and I used Stanley’s facial details, especially those eyes, for reference. It was especially important to get that one white mitten of a paw out in front while the other was folded in underneath, again using Stanley’s white mittens as a guide.
And of course I had my Sally to use as a guide for Trumpet’s white fur, even though she was long-haired and Trumpet short-haired. Still, the shadowing in the fur, the pink nose and ears and pea-green eyes, I was so glad they were willing models.
The two boys always slept on the braided rug shown in the portrait, but she didn’t have any images of them actually on it. I asked her to just give me a picture of it and I’d figure it out. The rug is fine, but I really don’t like the fuzzy sort of shading I did around it, just to keep them from looking as if they were floating in space, which is how it looked with just the oval rug, but that was all I could think of to do then. No one but me seems to notice that, but I smile at what I’ve learned from the experience of each and every portrait.
Trump and Jasper had passed when I did this portrait, but it was fairly recent, and when I showed her the finished portrait she burst into tears. That was the first time that had happened, but I understood completely; their similarities with Stanley and Sally made me think of their mortality as well the whole time I was working on it even though they each had many years left, and I was feeling pretty emotional too. I guessed the portrait was fairly accurate for that kind of a reaction. All these years and all these cats later, she still gets misty talking about Trumpet and Jasper.
“Trumpet and Jasper” as actually one of my very first portraits, from the first year I was in business painting portraits. From the portrait painting to the traveling around, the framing and realizing I’d be making a lot of friends through commissioned portraits, I had so much to learn. I treasure every lesson, every cat, and dog and bird, and human I’ve met along the way.
Here is Trumpet and Jasper’s page in Great Rescues:
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And here is the quote for Trumpet and Jasper:
Time spent with cats is never wasted. ~ May Sarton
Trumpet and Jasper are two 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
|Commissioned Dog Portraits
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
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
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.
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.
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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 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.
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!