Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Cassie and Tyler, Rescued Rescue Dogs

portrait of two labrador retrievers
Cassie and Tyler, pastel, 26" x 19", 1995 © B.E. Kazmarski

This portrait of Cassie and Tyler is the companion portrait to A Portrait in Oranges from last week—these two rescued Labrador retrievers belonged to the same person. She had decided she wanted two portraits, one of her cats and one of her dogs, as much alike as possible so they could hang together, but their individual personalities could also show.

Like the close relationship between Amaretto, Simon and Merlin, Cassie and Tyler were also best friends. Cassie was the lead dog so Tyler could act like a big playful puppy, but the two were very close and had to be playing with or at least touching each other all the time. They were mixed breeds but advertised as retrievers, but the results of bad backyard breeding showed only in some physical features and health—they were Labs through and through. Trained as search and rescue dogs, they were social and outgoing, adored water and any type of play involving carrying something. She gave me photos and I took a couple of rolls when I visited, then I took some of Tyler separately because he was so black that I couldn’t balance the exposure with very light-colored Cassie and kept losing his details.

detaIl of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Detail of their faces.

We decided to place them near water since they are Search and Rescue dogs and love to swim, even if it’s only a kiddie pool in the back yard. I could use some of my photos from parks and natural areas I’d visited and along with the dogs paint a landscape with them in it. What could be better? I had also been studying classic dog portraiture and took away a good bit of visual information about poses, backgrounds and color palettes. I used a photo of the lake in Cross Creek Park in Avella, PA, near the Meadowcroft Rockshelter. My photos were from an autumn day when I’d visited, but I also used other photos I’d taken for some of the details. I wanted the tree-covered hills with variable leaf color, but I also wanted a day where big clouds drift across the sky casting huge shadows. I photograph things like that as well and was glad for the images when I went to paint this portrait.

detaIl of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Sky, clouds and trees.

I had to go out in the field, literally, not all the way back to Cross Creek but closer to home to see the dry autumn grass in close up, and then to work it around Cassie and Tyler’s paws, including the shadow from Tyler, something I’d never done to that point in any portrait or painting. How do you paint grass without painting every blade? Well, I worked that out in this portrait—just paint the ones you need. And how does the grass overlap their paws or their torso as with Cassie lying on the ground? The photos I’d taken of them were from summer, but I could still study them for clues.

detaIl of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Detail of paws and grass.

And to that date, I had not painted such a large and detailed landscape, though I’d been studying the details for decades, noting things I liked for some reason, like the weeds silhouetted against the water, and the reflections on the water that showed both the surrounding landscape and the movement of the water.

detail of portrait of two labrador retriever dogs
Weeds and water.

And like the portrait of Amaretto, Simon and Merlin, this portrait is also a favorite since Labs are such a favorite breed, and seeing them outside in their natural element always makes people smile.

I apologize for the lack of some detail in some of these photos. I’d photographed this through the glass, which was fine for the overall portrait, but it all tends to fall apart when you crop out detailed areas. Still, it’s better to photograph through the glass than to take the whole thing out of the frame and have to put it back together; I am a picture framer, and I will avoid that at all costs.


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

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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.

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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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