Commissioned Portrait: Herbie

"Herbie", pastel on canson mi-tientes paper, 10" x 12", 1995 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Herbie”, pastel on canson mi-tientes paper, 10″ x 12″, 1995 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This portrait is just a small thing but dear to me. Herbie was a long-lived cat and we had a few decisions to make about his appearance, but overall I think we achieved an accurate portrait of not only him, but how his people felt about him at that time in their lives.

I’d painted a portrait for this customer’s sister, who’d commissioned the portraits of Sherman for her husband. Herbie’s person also wanted this portrait as a gift for her husband, and herself of course.

Herbie was a mixed breed long-haired tabby, and though quite the large cat was very shy, quiet and gentle. She’d sent me photos and I did like a few other poses where you could see his handsome face and green eyes much better, but the more she described him the more I liked just this one photo. He is partially in shadow, behind the curtain but observing out the window, in his own little corner, and he’s clearly permitted on the table so I knew they loved him to pieces.

And a portrait is also often a place in time, memories of the life you lived at the time; the dinette in the corner by the window where the newlyweds could watch the street as they had their morning coffee, the stoneware sugar bowl and creamer that had been wedding gifts, the creamy cotton curtain, the color of warm morning sun. Sometimes I just like the photo, but sometimes I know it’s special by looking at what’s in it, by what my customer says about it, and the fact it’s still around after a decade or so.

Herbie, detail.
Herbie, detail.

Herbie lived to be 18. When he was 12 he was diagnosed with cancer in his left front leg, and the leg was removed; this photo was taken after that surgery. She and I discussed the leg and whether or not it should appear since he’d had it more than half his life. It was barely noticeable in all that fur in the shadows, but if you studied him long enough you’d see it wasn’t there, so I made certain he had both legs in the portrait.

These are some of the difficult decisions to make with considering a portrait, which I hope leads to a lifetime enjoyment of a piece of artwork. The decision depends on what the person wants to remember, and Herbie’s person and I discussed up and down and in and out how adding his leg back in did not deny the whole experience or his pain and suffering and recovery. They thought of him as whole and often forgot it wasn’t there, it had been there far longer than it was not, and that was how they preferred to remember him.

I liked this portrait for the composition, for the light and shadow, all the accessories that make a very simple painting interesting, how well I remember painting all that fur. And it made me feel right at home to look at it myself, as I painted I could feel myself there, and it’s one I actually have a small framed print of on my own wall.

This is another old one, and though I managed to contact Herbie’s person she is five hours away and I can’t run across the state just to photograph a portrait. But I did have a photo enlargement of it because I liked it so much, and one of these days we’ll get together.

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.

Subscribe to my e-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter.

© 2021 | | 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: Herbie

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: