Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: A Cat and a Dog Who Were Best Friends

portrait of cat and dog
Portrait of a cat and a dog, Gray Cat and Yorkie, pastel, 11 x 14 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I took some time to look through my old portrait portfolio album while moving things around the studio in the past weeks, and this portrait of a cat and a dog stayed with me, so I decided I’d feature it soon. It’s from 1993, and I painted two portraits of a cat and a dog that year so they were always linked to me even though they were in no way related. I know so many people who have one cat and one dog, and even just move along through the years with several cats and dogs, though only one of each at a time.

In the portrait above, I can’t remember their names but I do remember painting the portrait. They had photos of the two individually outdoors and inside and I’m not sure which one was on those steps but I’m pretty sure it was the cat. I remember thinking it would make a nice setting for the two of them together. The cat really was that much larger than the dog, though they look all out of proportion, but that simple background let the two of them stand out. I still like it today, the simple steps and the dark Japanese yew groundcover. I design portraits for people all the time now, but I was new at it then, visualizing the idea was no problem, but getting it out of my head and onto paper could be tedious, though it grew much easier with both a lot of practice and with tools like a copier, Photoshop on my computer and being able to manipulate the image in Photoshop.

When I finished painting it and took it to show the couple, the woman started to cry and gently reached out a finger to touch the two of them. I was going to tell her not to touch it, but decided she likely wasn’t going to do much damage. I told her to be careful of the pastel on her finger and she understood. They had both passed in year or two before that and both people had missed them so much. I didn’t realize so many of my portraits would be memories, but I was beginning to understand both the impact of them, and my own ability to create an image realistic enough for people to feel their beloved companions were there. And that in a way the animals had communicated with me because none of the photos I got were large and clear enough to show me enough information.

Here’s what it looked like framed. In 1993 I was using film, of course, but I was also photographing my portraits after I’d framed them so I could get the whole thing, which I like, but the image of the portrait itself was never clear enough photographed through the glass at that time, though this one turned out pretty well.

portrait of cat and dog
Gray Cat and Yorkie, framed

I can’t find my paperwork for this portrait, which is why I don’t know their names. I had worked in offices for long enough that I had created my own paperwork chain for my portraits and their framing and the bill. I designed and typeset the forms, filled them out by hand and used a piece of carbon paper to make a copy of each one. Do you remember those days of carbon paper? I still have some.

I do know the ones below, painted in the same year, were “Taffy and Boggs,” and as soon as I found that paperwork I remembered their names immediately. A young woman commissioned me for the portrait as a gift to her parents.

portrait of cat and dog
Taffy and Boggs, 11 x 14, pastel © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This one didn’t photograph so well because the dark areas are so saturated, but these two are indoors and on a windowseat looking outdoors. I remember putting this together from photos of their house and enjoyed painting the view out the window and the curtains as well as the cat and the dog. I was so happy the young woman was pleased; I wasn’t sure this would look logical to her, like something the two of them would do. Later, I realized she had probably grown up with these two and loved them just as much as her parents.

The paperwork says to “remove Taffy’s cataract.” Hers wasn’t the only one, and I also replaced amputated legs and other medical interventions and often joked that I could do all sorts of procedures, but only on paper.

Here is the framed version.

portrait of cat and dog
Taffy and Boggs framed.

It’s always fun and enlightening to go back to those beginning years, especially the first year. I’m so glad I documented everything so well, and still do. It’s important to see where you came from. And I still love these two portraits and all they taught me.

Read about other current 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 on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Watch my video with information and lots of 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 Commissioned Portrait Certificate
Sample Commissioned 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 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.


  • 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


  • 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


Fine ArtPhotographyGiftsGreeting CardsBooksCommissioned Portraits & Artwork

Great Rescues Day Book:
Portraits, Rescue Stories, Holidays and Events, Essential Feline Information, All in One Book

day book with cat portraits
Great Rescues Day 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.

Read more and order.


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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© 2022 | | 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!





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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