Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Corky, Hearing Dog

"Corky", pastel, 14 x 20 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Corky”, pastel, 14 x 20 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

It’s now spring with sun-splashed green grass and leaves unfurling while the leathery leaves of rhododendrons are refreshed and shiny after being tightly curled for an extra long and cold winter. Nearly every day I go past the rhododendron in the yard in my neighborhood that I used for this portrait, and every time I think of Corky’s portrait, especially now that the real rhododendron scene looks so much like the one I painted with my pastels 11 years ago.

I saw that rhododendron today and decided it’s about time I shared Corky’s portrait and some of his story, especially since May is also National Service Dog Eye Examination Month.

Much of Corky’s information is private, but I can say that Corky was a very special dog. He was not only a service dog, but he was also a hearing dog. He was known and loved not only by his owner but also by her co-workers, family and friends. But he was most special to her because he helped her maintain her full professional life after she had lost her hearing.

Corky's vest.

The portrait was actually a gift from her former co-workers. They had a few photos of Corky, all of them black and white, none terribly good. Because Corky is a mixed breed dog, I couldn’t presume anything about his coloring or body type as I could with a breed, so I had to make a lot of guesses in initial sketches until he looked right to the group. At some point they did send me an updated color photo of him so I could get his body coloring, but that didn’t include his face. So I just worked intuitively as I often do, maintaining the floppy ear and the hopeful expression.

Detail of Corky's face
Detail of Corky’s face

When I asked what they wanted in the background they told me Corky like to be outdoors, but in a yard would be best, and he loved grass. They didn’t want to introduce too many other colors so it would basically be green. My yard has never had much grass, but I knew a few yards I liked that did, and when I thought about the remainder of the background I remembered the rhododendron, walked up the hill and took some photos. To that point I hadn’t done much realistically detailed shrubbery, so the leathery leaves were a challenge to follow.

Detail of leaves and grass.
Detail of leaves and grass.

Painting this portrait was not only fun and fulfilling for the subject himself and the background, but for the wonderful group of friends who came together to commission me for it.

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.

Art and Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals



Give the gift of art, and a portrait of a beloved pet

Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

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 Commissioned Portrait Gift Certificate. 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. Purchase a certificate here or on Portraits of Animals.


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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