Earlier this year an old friend commissioned me to paint a portrait of her cousin’s two cats, Paladin and Percy. I knew that her cousin had lost Paladin a few months before. When my friend had lost her precious Scotty dog Stormy a friend of hers commissioned a pastel portrait as a gift for her, and she decided to go in with cousins to commission a portrait for her cousin.
The two gray cats were brothers and had never been apart, so even though she’d only lost one of them, the portrait would be of both of them, together, as they always were. My friend sent several photos of them napping and just hanging out together, and had initially chosen the photo above, but just using their faces. Typically I would agree—that’s the part we remember the best and we want to connect with them by looking into their eyes, as we did in life.
But when she sent me the full version of the photo, I totally changed my mind! Had it been any other photo in the world I would have agreed, but I recognize that posture, even the tangled paws, every time I look at any of my cat siblings napping together, tangled, relaxed. I’ve had couples of unrelated cats who were close, but in observing Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine, Jelly Bean and Mewsette I can see the bond is different when they are siblings. What a chance photo to capture that pose. To really be true to the two together, we had to use the entire photo, from their butts to their toes. My friend agreed. This was one of the rare portraits in which I used one photo, though I did remove the bedspread from the background and just added one of her house colors, and used a few closeups of their faces to be certain of eye color and some details.
About Paladin and Percy
She and her husband adopted littermates Percy and Paladin as kittens, from an overcrowded home situation, from Animal Friends (Pittsburgh) in June 2005. “I know they gave us a real deal on the price since we were getting two and because my husband was “almost” 55 (senior discount),” she said. “They were inseparable at first. If one went to the water bowl, litterbox, up the steps, etc. the other followed close behind. They moved in tandem.”
But in time, as they grew accustomed to a less crowded home situation, they became more independent. And as they grew accustomed to more attention from humans, they “picked their favorite human,” Paladin choosing her husband and Percy choosing her. Every night each enjoyed the lap of the person he loved best. But no cuddling in bed. “We have never been able to allow them to sleep with us, though, because they both, from day one, have been obsessed with licking our heads!” she said. Kitties can be so weird!
The boys did differ in one thing: Paladin was shy enough to hide from anyone who visited, not uncommon in cats from overcrowded conditions who don’t get a chance to socialize to humans in general rather than to specific humans. But Percy “never met a person he did not like, he is very outgoing,” which may seem odd in cats who are brothers and have always been together, but there is nurture, and then there is the nature of each individual. “[Percy] is much more vocal since Paladin is gone, he talks to us all day long. We see him peeking behind doors and furniture and I know he must be looking for his brother. We have tried to compensate by giving him constant attention and lots of treats. Percy now has decided to share some of his lap time with John (her husband), usually in the morning and I get him in the evening as usual.”
“Paladin had the softest fur I have ever felt on a cat, and of course I believe him to be the most beautiful cat ever, but I am biased,” she said of Paladin. “He loved to play fetch and he spent many daytime hours on top of our tall bedroom dresser, which is where we have hung the beautiful portrait. The portrait is such a perfect representation of their life together. They of course at times slept in different spaces, but so often they were right within a paw’s reach of each other, just as you captured them. I am still in awe of the beautiful portrait and I look at it countless times a day, often chatting with Paladin.”
I always want my portraits to be accurate, and to create a forever memory for the person who loved the animal. When it’s a memorial that’s even more important. When people tell me they visit their portrait and talk to the subject, it just brings me to tears.
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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© 2021 | 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!