Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Hobbes

pastel portait of long-haired black cat
“Hobbes”, pastel, 10″ x 13″, 2004 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Hobbes’s portrait was a gift commissioned by a prior customer for her sister, who had recently had Hobbes put to sleep. The person who commissioned me volunteered for a shelter and also served on the board and had a house full of cats, and had found Hobbes for her sister. She knew a portrait would be very healing for her.

photo of long-haired black cat
Reference photo for Hobbes

Hobbes was shy but devoted, and there weren’t very many photos; in fact, Hobbes was fairly young when she developed cancer and though they managed to nurse her through the first treatments and the cancer went into remission, it returned a year or so later. They hadn’t had a chance to get many photos of her as an adult before the treatments began and she began to slouch a bit, lost fur and had shaved areas.

photo of long-haired tabby and white cat
Photo of Sophie I used for some of the unclear details, especially the tail

Typically I can work around these, but my customer didn’t want either her sister or herself to go through the photos of Hobbes in that condition. My customer ended up providing me with only one photo, at left, but told me that Hobbes’s big yellow eyes, glossy long hair and serious expression were very important.

That was about all I ever learned of Hobbes. I rarely have only one photo to work with, but in this case that’s all there really was. I could get just enough information to start with from this photo, and though I didn’t have a long-haired black cat I knew of a few to observe details of light on fur. I used a photo of Sophie in approximately the same position for some of the details, including the missing tail.

It’s unfortunate her eyes are blurry, but I worked them out through looking at my cats’ eyes and friends’ cat eyes, and determining the best light and shadow for her position. I had decided on the pale blue in the background after asking for a preference, and I chose a shade that complemented her eyes.

pastel portait of long-haired black cat
Detail of Hobbes’s portrait

Because Hobbes’s tail extends out of the photo I had to recreate it entirely. A cat’s tail habits are very personal and for that I had no information at all, and my customer couldn’t give me any. I decided to take an intuitive guess and used a photo of Sophie’s tail, giving Hobbes a curious curve. Apparently I guessed correctly.

pastel portait of long-haired black cat
De-“tail” of Hobbes’s portrait.

In the end, although I felt a little insecure I’d gotten the portrait to be accurate with all the details I had to fill in, sometimes that intuition works in my favor. My customer saw the proofs and was pleased with how they looked. I heard back from her that her sister felt she was looking at Hobbes when she opened the portrait. I framed it for them in a matte-finish black frame that had a bit of a swirl pattern that somewhat repeated Hobbes’s fur, and we finished it with a little brass plaque with her name on the frame.


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

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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.

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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.


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: Hobbes

  • I’m so happy you were able to recreate Hobbes with just one photo and some informed guesswork. I’m sure it is very meaningful for your customer’s sister. BTW – he’s a gorgeous cat!

    • Vicki, sometimes they speak to me–I’ll post another one soon that, like Hobbes, I would have had no idea of some of the details I added. I’m so happy when that happens. She was very beautiful, but I sensed sadness and that she’d always been ill but it was undetectable, and she knew she didn’t have a whole lot of time.


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