Thursday, June 13, 2024
cat artworkcommissioned portraitpastelpastel painting

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. 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.

detail of pastel portrait of long-haired tabby
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.

If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and at assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, each week I feature a piece of artwork on Wednesday and a new product on Thursday. Choose the category for featured artwork.


Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here 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 portrait certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

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.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

Certificates are good for up to one year after issue.

You can purchase gift certificates here or from my Etsy shop if you are also purchasing other animal-inspired merchandise.

Enter the recipient’s name
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You only need to enter an address if it is different from the address I’ll receive through PayPal. These are often surprise gifts and need to be shipped away from the home address to make sure they are a surprise.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile 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.

© 2013 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski



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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