Friday, March 1, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Buddy, Gus, Boris and Tina

Buddy, Gus, Boris and Tina, pastel, 9 x 13, 2000 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

The daily photo of Sienna supurrvising me in an illustration contained the illustration itself, a new book cover for Patricia Fry’s latest mystery. That illustration contained a portrait I painted 20 years ago, so I’m featuring it for this week’s featured artwork.

I actually painted this portrait at about the same time as Uncle Benton and Eno, and I don’t have good notes from that era; my brother was moving to the nursing home to continue recovery after his brain injury at the same time as I noticed a change in my mother and began to pursue her doctor for answers leading to her lung cancer diagnosis. Probably because of that I never really added them to my website except as a thumbnail, and that was like blogging is for me now when I summarize and write the story of the portrait. But I do remember meeting these four fine felines, and I remember painting them and working out the details in a rather small portrait.

The notes in my portraits database read thus:

The portrait will include three sable Burmese and one Russian Blue. Boris, the Russian Blue, is very lithe and active, with yellow eyes and a very blue coat. Of the three Burmese, Tina has the largest, roundest eyes, and tends to hang out with Boris. Buddy and Gus are buddies. All the Burmese coats have a distinct mahogany cast on the chest, legs, and areas of the face and head.

And, yes, they really were full-bred Burmese and Russian Blue cats. The owner was retired and had met a Burmese and liked it so he adopted one from a breeder. I don’t remember which one was first, but the kitty was really playful and needed a buddy, so he adopted another one very soon after. I think the third was one who’d been returned to the breeder and he adopted it after that, and I really wish I could remember why the Russian Blue! I just remember him chuckling about a silly reason. But they were very friendly and happy cats. I thought I’d taken photos to use in addition to the ones he had chosen, but if I did I can’t find them. Sigh. I kept records because I knew someday I’d want to know these things, on the other hand it probably doesn’t really matter!

This portrait was 9″ x 13″, a fairly small area for four subjects. When I lay out a portrait with multiple subjects from multiple images I use descriptions of their habits and personality to choose their postures and positions in the group. From the notes above, Boris and Tina are sitting because they are more active, and in the back, because they are sitting. Buddy and Gus are buddies too, and since they can’t all be sitting, they are lying down. I probably tried it out with Buddy and Gus cheek to cheek, but that was too many eyes in the center of the painting, and I like the triangular build.

I also often use multiple photos to build one cat. In the composite below you can see where things are “pasted” together, though they are actually combined in Photoshop. For most customers, as I do with Patricia Fry as well, I create pretty detailed composites made form provided photos and images of cats who look like the subjects if I don’t have enough of the actual cats.

Composite layout for portrait.

The background colors were taken from his apartment too. It is rather dark but even with that the cats still stand out as subjects. Today I make much simpler backgrounds but in that day I wanted the background to be interesting on its own and I enjoyed mixing colors and making the light move around in patterns. The owner was very pleased as I remember. He was very clear in what he wanted and had put a lot of effort into visualizing the portrait he wanted, and that was a real pleasure for me.

The way this portrait ended up in a book cover was that in the story plot Rags and his mother were actually looking at a portrait of cats on the wall. I sent Patricia several possibilities for what she described and this was the one she chose. That was very interesting for me, to use one of my portraits in that way!

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.

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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Subscribe to The Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter.

© 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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