I’m so pleased this design won both a Muse Medallion and the President’s Award in the 2013 Cat Writers’ Association communications contest, and it was also one of the main inspirations for pursuing the idea of somehow, some way, printing my art on garden flags. And the bright colors and the blue on both sides of the flag are meant for your summer yard!
A bit about the designs
When I first painted the original painting in this series, “Two Cats After van Gogh”, I posted my impressions and reasons for the style I’d used in oil pastel:
I am channeling Vincent van Gogh tonight, trying to work the same energy and form I see in his brush strokes. I can layer with oil pastel, but can’t apply or build up the thickness of medium that can be accomplished with paint; this sketch is also quite small, about 6″ x 5″, so I can’t work all the little strokes in as I’d like, but perhaps I’ll actually try this on canvas at some point, and something a little bigger.
I traveled with a friend in April 2012 to see the “Van Gogh Up Close” exhibit. Although it seems I love the Impressionists best, van Gogh is a step apart from the Impressionist styles we find most familiar in Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cassatt with his stylized forms and brilliant, often non-representational colors. I’d only seen a few original van Gogh paintings, and taking in an entire exhibit intended to show you van Gogh’s work near enough to touch and to see his influences filled my head with dimensional flower petals, rippling wheat textured in fields, dappled leaves seeming to move with the extra layers of paint—and colors! I closely studied the way he roughly blended colors into one another and what colors he used, the brilliant greens contrasted with the earthy sepia, lots of yellow and blue.
All the way home on the Megabus I remembered the colors and shapes and textures, and wanted to work the same energy and form I saw in his brush strokes, visualizing oil pastel to layer and blend the strokes as an experiment. Arriving home in Pittsburgh just a few hours later I saw Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine, just quietly hanging together on the landing, Giuseppe sitting upright, Sunshine loafing, and visualized exactly what I would sketch.
Since then, when the pull of the textures and layers and colors draws me in, I’ve worked several other images in oil pastel in similar style. Oil pastel is not a popular medium, and I found it difficult to learn to handle. I’d actually done a few other landscape and still life paintings with them years ago, but put them aside in favor of my chalk pastels in my tiny crowded studio.
And the second one that’s on the other side of this flag, “In Window Light”:
Here Mimi lounges in the light from the window, slipping in under the mini blind. Who doesn’t know that posture of the vigilant kitty, not sleeping, just kind of hanging out and waiting for…well, humans tend to be pretty dull, but that gives kitties a lot of resting time. In the strength of the sun, all colors appear in her fur and on the old marble windowsill and the hot yellow sun outside the window, and I’ve no doubt Mimi enjoyed her nap.
About the flags
These “garden flags” are digitally printed on both sides of a heavyweight, durable indoor/outdoor woven printable fabric, and I finish by adding the rod pocket. Flags are 11” wide x 15” tall and fit the most common garden flag bracket available, sold in most hardware and home renovation stores with a garden area. This flag has a different design on each side, as shown.
I tested my original flags in my back yard for nearly a year before offering them, beginning in October 2012—and that original flag is still hanging out there on my clothesline! Some colors are slightly faded on the side of the flag that’s faced the sun for this whole year, but the other side is fine. The flag and the bracket should last you many seasons.
Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I can no longer have garden flags printed like this, so when they are gone, that is that until I find another way to produce an inexpensive flag that can stand up to sun and weather. I have a few more of this flag left than I do other flags, and you can find the Cats After van Gogh garden flag in my Etsy shop or browse all the available garden flags.
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Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things
The photo I used on this garden flag and other products, however, is the most special of all.
This art is the only one in my set of garden flags that is not a sketch or painting, but a photograph, and a very special photograph called “Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things”, taken in 2005—May 4, 2005 to be exact.
You can find this flag in my Etsy shop, and read more about the image, below.
Sophie could use any prop to dramatic effect, and the lace curtains were her favorite. Of course, you can’t see her. But if you look closely you might see a cat’s face through the lace that might have Sophie’s big green eyes with heavy eye-liner, and her tabby babushka and outlined nose.
I took a number of other photographs the same day I took “Sophie Keeps and Eye on Things”, all with the lace curtain filled with early evening sun. I was preparing to leave the house on my bike and had my original little 2MP digital camera, and because Sophie always fussed when I was leaving she got extra attention, inside and out. Never sorry for spending that time!
In the evenings I closed my curtains before I left. Sophie always watched me leave the house and she took the opportunity to play around with the curtains—often I had to inspect the lace to see her white fur through the mesh, or she dramatically appeared from between the panels, around the edge or underneath, but she was always there with her big round eyes.
On this day, in the late afternoon, the warm spring sun angled into the window imparting a creamy tone to the lace, and the forget-me-nots I’d planted in pots in the windowbox were in full flower. Before I left I closed the curtains because I’d be gone after dark, and Sophie began her little game while I was still indoors, so I stopped and captured a few images of her silhouetted and peering through the curtain at me.
Then I finally went out the door and, as I always did, stopped to look back at both my front windows and the door to see which kitties were bidding me farewell, or sending me on a guilt trip, depending on their attitude. I don’t remember who was at the other window or the door, but Sophie managed to find an open spot to peer through the lace at me in several different ways. I had my bike and my hands full of things, and only my little 2MP digital with no zoom, and wished I had my Pentax film camera at least, knowing the shot would be difficult with the tiny digital. I considered stepping back in to get the film camera, but knew she’d move and I’d never see this particular shot again. So I put everything down, kicked out the kickstand on my bike, pulled the digital out of its little wallet, pointed and clicked, several times, and hoped for the best. And I got it.
I lost Sophie at the end of 2006 and hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about her. Her rescue story is also one of the funniest of all my rescue stories, so take time to read “The Housewarming Cat”. You can also read more about the day I took this photo and see other photos I took that day in Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things, Take the Photo Now.
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Mimi in the Garden
I only have six of these flags left!
Each flag has a design on both sides, in this case it’s the same on both sides, but mirrored. This art is “Garden Sketch With Mimi”, originally 5″ wide x 7″ high on 90 lb. watercolor paper signed and dated 6/27/13. Here’s what I had to say about the painting the day I posted it…
This was not what I’d intended but I like it anyway. It’s Mimi napping in the shadow on the cool bricks among the geraniums, near the vintage aluminum tub where I grow pole beans. Mimi was so happy to be outside she only rested in each position for less than a minute, and the sun was in and out behind the clouds. The temperature was in the 90s and we weren’t doing much but looking for a comfortable spot.
I had wanted something a little tighter in detail, but I like the details this one has. I did a light pencil sketch underneath because it’s so small I knew I’d run out of space if I didn’t give myself some guidance about Mimi, the geraniums and the barrel, but aside from that I just painted.
In part I was using the quick and easy eight-color grade-school set that’s easy to carry and use I really need to get a set with a greater color range if I’m going to paint outdoors.
But what was my purpose with this painting? Sometimes I sit down to capture the details of the moment, and some day I’d like to do just that with the reference photos from this, but with my actual sketch, and all my daily sketches, my purpose is just to capture the essence of the moment and share what moved me to render the scene. In this case it was a relaxed Mimi in the shade on a hot morning, stretched on those familiar bricks next to the cool anodized aluminum tub where I’ve always planted pole beans and surrounded by my geraniums saved from year to year. It was a scene I loved for my love of my garden, my appreciation of Mimi relaxing in a place she’d once hunted for food to feed her kittens, and the memory of the generations of cats before her who enjoyed that very spot, this little patio and the verdance of my garden.
You can find “Mimi in the Garden” garden flag in my Etsy shop.
I am actually out of a few of the designs, and some of them have only one or two left! The designs below are currently available in my Etsy shop—click the image to go to the product on Etsy, or scroll down for links to the images to read more about the original sketches here on The Creative Cat.
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And all the original designs
Following is a list of links to the daily sketch or painting:
Below, just for memories, my favorite photo of my first proofs in my yard! This is what I envisioned when I first had the idea to create these.
Mimi looks over my sample flags, happy to see she is amply represented!
Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.
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.
Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.
Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.
It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!
This is shared in Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy.
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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.
© 2015 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | 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!