Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait Finished: Stained Glass Feline Family

"Stained Glass Feline Family", pastel, 12" x 28", Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Stained Glass Feline Family”, pastel, 12″ x 28″, Bernadette E. Kazmarski


The last step of my latest commissioned portrait—adding the “leading” in the “stained glass window”. When I finished adding all the little black outlines and stood back to get a good look at the whole painting, my heart skipped a beat. I am so happy to be able to create a totally unique piece of custom art. I messaged it to my customer and she approved. I met with her on Wednesday evening, her seeing it in real life the final proof of whether or not it was done. She loved it.

And as a rarity, she took a photo of me holding it. My hair has my “I’ve been up too late several nights in a row” look, and my shirt looks like I slept in it, but that’s what it looks like when several cats in a row curl up on my lap.

Me with the artwork.
Me with the artwork.

I’ve included the text from the first post about this artwork that tells the story of how it came to be.

25% Off Portrait Special

Most of the portraits you see featured here are fairly realistic and scenic, but a custom portrait can take many forms and styles. Don’t forget about my 25% discount on commissioned portraits for Mother’s and Father’s Day through June 30, 2019.

I don’t often get the chance to share a portrait while I’m working on it. Most of my portraits are either memorial portraits and I treat those gently making sure that only the subject’s people get to see it at any stage and only share it when it’s done, or it’s a gift portrait and I have to keep it a secret. In this case the owner is fine with sharing it, and she sends her friends to look at it. Of course, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably already seen it because it’s fun, after a day of working on it, to share it right away. Blogging used to be so immediate, but right now other social media are instantaneous.

This portrait is different, and not just because I can share it, but because it’s not a realistic image by any means but stylized after one of my sketches to be installed in the owner’s kitchen. The cat shapes represent real cats, but they also represent other cats the family has fostered or rescued.

I met the owner at an HCMT clinic and she’d mentioned she’d like to commission a portrait, but wasn’t sure what. They were planning a kitchen redo, and because she did a lot of regular plus commercial cooking and baking she wanted the art to be where she could see it all the time. It would go over the table in a long narrow space on the wall.

Then I shared my daily sketch “Stained Glass Cats” last May, and she loved the style and knew that was the sort of thing she wanted. She sent me a photo of upright cat-shaped pillows that were just a silhouette with very little detail and said that’s how she’d like to represent the cats, and sent me some sample photos and a list of colors and sizes. They would look as if they were looking out a window, and the painting would be framed with the same framing to be used for the molding in the kitchen.

pastel drawing of three cats like stained glass
“Stained Glass Cats” (cropped), hard pastel, 5.5″ x 8.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I began with my sketch and built from that. The original size was something like 8″ x 36″ so I copied the background patterns from the original sketch over the area, then chose silhouettes for the cats. When I had them grouped together in the original size, there was so much background left over it looked awkward, so I moved them apart.

First draft done on my computer.
First draft done on my computer.

Then the size changed to 12″ x 28″, and that was the final size. With that dimension I could cluster the cat shapes, and also do more with the background. The upper part would be leaves and sky so I wanted to get as many leaf shapes in there and have more green at the top and more blue near the bottom of the cats. The very bottom would be like the window seat they were sitting on.

Second draft.
Second draft.

I was pleased with the way the cats were organized, but the background seemed a little too busy to me. I enlarged the backgrounds so there were larger pieces, and fewer. I also moved the cats down so the area under them was more like the window seat and they were sitting at the window. Also, the customer wanted to switch the second and third cats in color.

Final draft.

Then I was finally ready to paint! I chose my paper, Canson Mi-tientes Touch with a good base for layering pastel and a strong piece of paper for later mounting it on a foam core backing. I scribbled white pastel over the back of the entire drawing, then traced the outlines of the cats and transferred them onto the drawing paper. Rather than tracing and transferring all the background items I decided I’d just draw those as I went along using the flat sides of my pastels. Here is the first draft of just flat color fill in mid-range tones—the black lines for the “leading” will come later when I am sure the colors are right.

The first color draft on drawing paper.
The first color draft on drawing paper.

Then I went over it to add the highlights and lowlights in the “stained glass”, so each color looked as if the light was shining through the glass of the window. Compared to the colorful background the cats looked a little dull, so I added I added violet tones to the gray kitty, mahogany tones to the housepanther and blue tones to the little white kitty. The three gingers have bits of red and yellow in them.

Next draft.
Next draft.

So that’s where I ended up today. So far Beth is really pleased and so am I. I will update again as soon as I have more done. I have a ways to go before it really is done!

I am honored

This painting was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in Fine Art by the Cat Writers’ Association in the 2019 Communications Contest. Click here to read more about the CWA, the contest and the awards.

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!



Inspire Me Monday


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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