Monday, May 20, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Bug

watercolor portrait of cat on railing
Bug, 6 x 8, watercolor © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

While most commissioned portraits feature the subject prominently, and facing out toward the viewer, Bug’s portrait was a capture of a favorite moment in a long lifetime. The entire scene became the portrait as he took his place on the railing lined up with the squashes on a mild autumn afternoon, surveying his realm. And while he’s not facing us so we can make direct contact with him, sometimes it’s watching our animal companions be who they are that we want to remember, as I mentioned with this month’s featured artwork of Mewsette napping on the bed and how I loved looking at my cats from behind, and that was such a memory of her and many other cats sleeping, comfortable and secure, in such a familiar place. There is Bug in the middle of it all to share the space with his people, the chrysanthemums marking it in time, the railing, the big yard and the woods beyond all a part of the memory.

I will also add that my “other” great love in painting is the natural world, mostly landscapes, both details and scenes, and wildlife. Capturing the essence of one single moment that inspired me is my usual goal. So in this portrait, combining a cat in a moment of being a cat with a lovely landscape is a double joy.

This portrait is a small watercolor, just 6″ x 8″, and a good example of how a scene makes a nice portrait, and how a portrait doesn’t have to be big. My portraits had usually been 10″ x 12″ or larger because it was difficult to work smaller with details in pastel. But over the years of my daily sketches, most of which were between 5″ x 7″ and 8″ x 10″, I worked out techniques in pastel as well as other media to be able to create smaller portraits, sometimes in pastel but more often in watercolor or even as sketches in pastel pencil, charcoal, ink or drawing pencil.

In this case, because of the tight details, I worked out an underpainting in watercolor marker with the photo underneath my watercolor paper on my light table. That gave me a good base to build on while layering my watercolors without losing the edges or angles of things, especially the outline of Bug who is the lightest thing in the painting. And as always, some details work fine in a photo and you might hardly notice them, like the shed off in the woods that was distractingly prominent when I painted it as it was in the photo, then slowly worked it darker and darker, and removed the blue recycling bin. The hazy autumn light reduces the contrast and softens the shadows.

I thought Bug was a white cat in the photo because of the way both digital and film photos create contrast by highlighting the lightest areas. I had another photo to see that Bug was actually a very pale ginger and worked that delicate tone in his fur as best I could. I heard that his fur depth and hue were quite accurate, one of those intuitive leaps for which I’m always grateful in portraits.

Bug’s person is actually feline-exclusive veterinarian providing in-home homeopathic care for cats, and Bug has a back story in her practice. Learning about the benefits of raw diets for cats she decided to try it on the sickly six-month old kitten she’d adopted and watched Bug “blossom” as she described. You can read about this and link to her website to read about her practice in this post on Ingrid King’s site Purrs of Wisdom.

A Discount on Commissioned Portraits

Now, at the beginning of November, I have just enough time to order a portrait for yourself or a family member or friend for the holidays, and plenty of time to order a portrait certificate—read the details of my 25% discount on commissioned portraits and artwork.

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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© 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!



Friendship Friday.
Friendship Friday.


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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