Friday, February 23, 2024
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A Portrait in Oranges

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

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.

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.

From Great Rescues. That veterinarian who rescued them has been my veterinarian for about 18 years, and this portrait goes back to her first years as a house-call vet and my first years as an animal portrait artist.

About the portrait

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’ll be discussing this portrait next Wednesday 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

Below is Amaretto, Simon and Merlin’s page in Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book.

page from calendar
Page from Great Rescues.



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 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.

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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.


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.

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