Every once in a while I get to do a little portrait, just a simpler composition like one of my sketches. People are often interested in a sketch, but it doesn’t always coordinate with what they visualize for their own portrait.
Phoenix was a little white Westie and the portrait was done as a 2017 Christmas gift from the person who cared for him when his people were away. I couldn’t resist the little plaid skirt.
Creating a small composition in a small space is a balance of the details you want to use for focus with what becomes negative space and it doesn’t look like the subject is just cut off. Because he was such a small dog a very small portrait worked well for him. That’s partly because he was one color because there weren’t as many details as there would be with a spotted dog. His white fir and dark eyes and nose worked so well with the toned paper that it was a natural choice. The focus is on his face, the most important part of what we remember. This is drawn in white and black charcoal pencils and colored pastel pencils.
I framed this portrait too, but in the rush just before Christmas didn’t get a chance to photograph it.
Below, a similar portrait I sketched for the same customer for 2016.
A Little Sketch of Chloe
This portrait is a break from the usual larger, full-color and highly detailed portraits, just to share a little moment and focus on the expression, the face, the most-remembered part of just about any creature we love, human or animal. I had a number of photos, but none were close-up enough but this pose, though it was a little blurry, and I decided that just her face and paws were exactly what we needed.
Creating a small composition in a small space is a balance of the details you want to use for focus with what becomes negative space and it doesn’t look like the subject is just cut off. A lilac-point Siamese mix, I wanted to capture the subtleties of Chloe’s points and eye color along with the relaxed nature of her posture. I decided to use the gray toned paper so that I could work lights and darks from that mid-point and still include the blue of her eyes as an accent. Because the hue of the paper is close to the hues in the sketch she would naturally fade into the background with no clear stop or start and be limited by her shape on the paper. The paper itself has a warm tone while her fur tones are cool, and she has just enough definition against the background.
I used my light and dark charcoal pencils to sketch her and define her eyes and nose and initially intended to use only the charcoals. But remembering the soft sheen on the lilac points I decided to use a few values from my set of gray pastels for her points and gentle shadows. What a pleasure.
Just to show how small this sketch of Chloe is, here is a scan of the whole sketchpad before I removed the portrait. The sketchbook is 5.5″ x 8.5″ and seeing the size of the coil binding you can get a better idea of the size of the sketch. I like to do display small sketches that way too; it gives them a feeling of authenticity.
Sometimes, just a little sketch is all you need to capture that memory.
Chloe was a rescued mom adopted with her two kittens, and her portrait was a gift this Christmas. The person who commissioned it, though, was not the person who had rescued or adopted Chloe, or even her owner. She was the neighbor who became her pet sitter when Chloe’s older people were away grand-baby-sitting or on vacation.
Chloe and her kittens could be skittish and frightened of strangers, but Mary befriended the little mom cat when she’d been a substitute sitter, and was happy to eventually be asked to visit for the three when their people were away. Chloe became her friend, and the two formed a special bond. Chloe developed diabetes and sadly this year developed pancreatitis, and the combination of the two took her life at the end of October at the age of only eight years. Just as much for her own grief as it was for her grieving neighbor, Mary asked me to do just a little portrait of Chloe, and left the details up to me.
I also framed this portrait for the customer. I purchase quantities of matte black and white frames and some wood tones when available, and I can frame portraits with a plain white mat up to 16″ x 20″ frame size for a flat fee. I had a piece of mat board that matched Chloe’s eyes, though, and I couldn’t not use it because I knew it would be the perfect addition to the simple white mat and frame, and it was. And then I decided to use a little piece of white black core mat and I really love how it came out.
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.
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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.
Purchase a Gift 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.
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.
[ss_product id=’ee6d37ec-349a-11e6-a43c-0cc47a075d76′ ]Commissioned Portrait Certificate[/ss_product]
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.
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!