Monday, April 15, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Five Cats By the Window

Five Cats By the Window, pastel on Canson, 18″ x 24″, 1994 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski (photo through glass)

I visited one of my longtime art customers, and one of the first good cat rescuers I met back in the early 90s, on Monday. She and her husband are moving and while she’s purchased several portraits for herself and as gifts for others, she had seen my painting “Geraniums and Parsley” and wanted a large print of it for her new place. I took the original to meet with her about her art and to visit.

And I was so happy to see this portrait of her five cats from around the time we met, like meeting an old friend and suddenly there I was, 26 years in the past, looking over what I’d done all those years ago. Four of them were rescues from where she worked for most of her career, where many cats and kittens were dumped and she and others worked hard, even before TNR, to trap and spay or neuter them, adopt out the ones they could while caring for the ones who weren’t adoptable. The Siamese in the middle of the bottom row is a full-breed kitty from before she really began rescuing. The others were friendly adults or kittens from rescued litters.


Wow, 1994, so early for me not even being fully acquainted with drawing papers and different styles and brands of pastels, but that was an important year for me, and this woman was a big part of my success that year. I had taken a sabbatical from my day job and was working full-time second shift as a typesetter while working on creating artwork plus art sales and exhibits during the day, and she decided to get herself two portraits plus gift portraits for the several people who fostered for her. I painted all the others for Christmas 1993, then painted the two for her right after Christmas, finishing them in January 1994. Last autumn I featured “Three Black and White Cats” and another portrait which were two of the ones she had commissioned.

I photographed the portrait and some details through the glass, which I’ve done before but there’s a special technique, and even then it’s not always the best outcome. Still, these are clear enough to get a good feeling for the finished work, I think.


I remember this one being an interesting composition. She wanted all five in one place, by a window, but they didn’t really snuggle except the two at the top.

Ginger and Tux

They had to either be positioned in a long line, like on the back of a couch, or on two levels. The best I could come up with was the idea of shelves in front of a window. To eliminate the distraction of things outside the window I added a sheer curtain. I have to say I wasn’t entirely happy with it then, nor am I now and I know I’d come up with something quite different. But we aren’t born running though we have the potential, we have a lot of learning and strengthening to get there, and creative efforts are no different.


I ended up with some awkward spots no matter what I did so I asked if there were any other cats or things she might want to add. She asked to work in some artifacts with a Native American theme or style that she loved so much and also collected from tribes she supported, and maybe some begonias, which she liked. I have two photo of the vase, below, one for accurate color from a photo I took at the time, and the other for a detail of the finish.

I am grateful for the people who helped me along the way who are still customers as well as friends. She was also the person who helped me find homes for Tess and her boys, and was also the person who found fosters for any of the difficult cases, like Ysabel, or neonatal kittens I rescued since I often couldn’t bottle feed or give critical care with my schedule, usually trading an adult or two or an older litter for my rescues. Even now we reference each other when we have rescues, and she is one of those who supports my TNR and rescue efforts today. A portrait like this one has so many memories tied up in it, and my friend and I can still go on making more memories.

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!




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.

2 thoughts on “Commissioned Portrait: Five Cats By the Window

  • What an amazing portrait! Must make them grin every time they look at it!


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