This portrait was a total Father’s Day surprise for Keith from his wife Norma and children, and it was so much fun to put together. Norma decided when she saw my Mother’s and Father’s Day special on portraits that a portrait of Keith and their two cats was the purrfect gift for him because he was such a cat guy and they were inseparable, and he could be difficult to buy for. The kids agreed, and they all went in together on it.
Designing the portrait
The scene would be Keith with the two cats as they could often be found, in a chair or on the lounger, together. Norma sent photos of Keith in the chair, and of each of the cats for reference. We discussed technique and style and didn’t want to have a highly finished pastel, but something looser and less formal, maybe a charcoal sketch. I pictured the good old standard charcoal on natural white paper, and also regular and white charcoal on toned paper. She sent me photos of them all sitting or stretched out on the lounge in the window light, Keith reading a book or working on his phone, and it looked like a great scene. We stayed with that for a while, but decided that we’d like to see a more up close view of Keith and the cats, and I could actually picture some color in with the charcoal.
I really liked the composition of the first photo mostly because of Seuss’s ultimate cat posture, but it was also Keith focused on his tablet, and would put Munchkin on Keith’s knees. The photo with them all napping with the books next to them was nice too.
She’d also told me he was the real cat guy, and had been a good part of the rescue of both cats from feral litters outdoors where they lived in a small town in the woods. It seemed like a little more of a closeup could be nice too, where you see the three of them closer together. I described kind of what you see in the portrait and asked her what she thought of that. She had Keith pose with the two cats without telling him anything at all and he complied. I used that photo as a base for him, but the cats looked a little disturbed at being held that way. I used a wonderful photo of the two cats shoulder to shoulder on the windowsill to their positions.
Initially, I had the portrait set up so you could see all of the cats and more of the chair they all sat on, but in the end moved the point of view closer to include just the essentials because we decided it would be about 11 x 14, and they’d all be so small with a full scene in a smaller portrait.
Refining the style and sketching
With the full scene I had planned to just loosely sketch them, but with the closer view I wanted more detail. I decided to tighten up the details but let them be loose enough when I added the color in a style I don’t get to use too often. I kept the decorative chairback though at first it seemed too much with all the other details. She said his favorite color was purple, so I made his cardigan purple, and aside from the resident colors of everyone I added a bit of olive green in the upper background.
At the last minute I decided I couldn’t figure out exactly what color his eyes were, so I messaged. It was kind of funny—at that point it was just about finished and I knew the two of them were traveling together in the car, so I was asking questions she could answer without providing him a clue if he happened to see her phone, but had to wait when I wanted to send her a photo of the finished portrait. Wouldn’t that be something if he saw that! But he didn’t, and I proceeded to framing and had it ready to go on Father’s Day when I actually took a trip up to where they were working as camp counselors at a camp on Lake Erie near the Ohio border in Pennsylvania, about two hours away.
25% discount on portraits lasts until June 30, 2021
I cant get a portrait done by then, but you can still purchase a portrait before the end of the month and have the portrait done later.
A little vacation for me to deliver it
You might notice I don’t go too much of anywhere. In part that’s been financial and in part old cars that I don’t trust for longer trips. But one of the reasons I’d gone out on a limb and gotten this car was for longer trips, for shows, and also just for traveling a bit. A day trip to Presque Isle on Lake Erie was always a favorite years ago, and I always returned with photos and paintings as well as some neat rocks and beach glass, driftwood and creative ideas.
Some paintings from Lake Erie trips from past years.
I don’t typically deliver portraits this far, but we decided I could mix a little mini-vacation and a swim in the lake with the delivery. Norma had told him I’d wanted to come up there to see Lake Erie but my time was limited, and that was my premise for coming up that day but not staying. The family was getting together for Father’s Day about 6:00, so I’d be there and leave just before that.
Keith was totally clueless about the portrait, and that made it all the more fun. He really liked it, and so did everyone else, and he even showed it to other camp counselors he liked it so much. I’m always a little concerned when there’s a human in a portrait. Animals never complain it doesn’t look like them, humans usually have something to say. Norma sent me photos of Keith with the portrait before I even arrived home, and that was so reassuring.
While I was there, I really enjoyed walking on the beach and combing it for neat stuff, but the big thrill, aside from a couple of photos and potential painting ideas, was swimming in the lake. I like two real activities: bicycling and swimming. I’m a natural swimmer, and for a year was on my township’s swim team in summer recreation, but I wouldn’t compete. I’m really not competitive, and I was mortified to be the center of attention in the water, so I quit. But if there’s water anywhere near me I’m in it, and if there’s a lake I’m swimming. I had just gotten accustomed to the water, though, when I realized I still had my glasses on. I was just about to take them off and hand them to my friends when we heard thunder and I had to get out of the water. That’s okay, it was getting close to my time to leave too. Sunday was a great experience, and a really great day.
Here are my two favorite photos from the day, and I have some that will be paintings.
And here are my friends and me in the water.
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 on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.
Read about how I create commissioned portraits.
|Commissioned Cat Portraits||Commissioned Dog Portraits||Portraits of My Cats|
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.
Giving a Portrait Certificate as a Gift
Is there an animal lover on your list who has every cat or dog-themed t-shirt and handbag, and even their pets have every toy they can use for the rest of their natural lives? Consider a gift certificate for a commissioned portrait. Whether it’s for someone else or yourself, a custom portrait is different from a professional photograph because we can create the scene that you remember even if you never had the chance to photograph it. Your household of animal companions can be grouped in a natural setting even if their lives didn’t overlap.
And rather than having a portrait done and giving that as a gift, your recipient can be involved in the design of the portrait, choosing the photos and scene, and watching the progress.
Purchase a Portrait Certificate
I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $50.00, which is the basic cost of a small monochromatic portrait.
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.
Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.
You can purchase gift certificates here or from Portraits of Animals if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.
I prefer to look over the work and price the portrait according to how much work will go into it, as described above, but you can either set a budget or get started by purchasing a certificate as a downpayment for yourself or as a gift.
How to Order
- “Certificate A” is for a minimum-size 8 x 10 black and white or monochromatic portrait with one subject.
- “Certificate B” is for a minimum-size 8 x 10 color portrait with one subject.
- Choose “A” or “B” depending on whether your portrait is black and white or color.
- If your portrait will be larger or have more subjects, add $50 or $100 or more to your certificate value with the drop-down below.
CERTIFICATE A $50.00
- Size: 8 x 10
- Subjects: One
- Color: black and white media such as charcoal, pencil, ink, or monochromatic media such as one color of pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, etc.
- Background or objects: none but shading or colored paper
CERTIFICATE B $100.00
- Size: 8 x 10
- Subjects: One
- Color: full color media such as pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, etc.
- Background or objects: none but a color or colored paper
Add to your certificate purchase
You can use the second drop down to add $50.00 or $100.00. For amounts over this we’d probably have a conversation and I can set up a custom certificate for your purchase.
You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive when you order. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Great Rescues Day Book:
Portraits, Rescue Stories, Holidays and Events, Essential Feline Information, All in One Book
Each month features one of my commissioned portraits of a feline or felines and their rescue story along with a kitty quote on the left page, and on the right page the month name with enough lines for all possible dates, with standard holidays and animal-themed observances and events. Great Rescues also includes a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings including information on finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.
Each book includes also 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.
The portraits in this book, collected as a series, won both a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Annual Communication Contest, as well as the 22 Cats Notepaper mentioned below.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!