Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Milan and Felix

portrait of two cats
“Milan and Felix”, pastel, 22″ x 15″, 2005 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Milan and Felix spend some time together; yesterday we read their rescue story and today we study their portrait. Their rescuers volunteered for Animal Friends in Pittsburgh and won a portrait certificate I’d donated in a benefit auction. They’d won a portrait from another artist a few years before and had two other cats done, and it was actually Milan’s diabetes diagnosis that gave them the idea to have a portrait done of these two in 2005.

I remember looking at photos and planning the composition to show the best angles of their faces and all the best markings on each of them, Milan’s distinctive white areas and Felix’s many bracelets and necklaces. The two have completely different styles of stripes, but both have that classic eyeliner that I always find so lovely around a cat’s eyes. I actually look forward to firming up that eyeliner as a finishing touch at the end of working on the face.

detail of portrait
Detail of Felix’s face.

I wanted to choose a pose for each that suited their nature. The two were friendly but didn’t cuddle so I also knew I’d have to leave some sort of space between them, yet I also wanted the portrait composition to work. I saw this pose of Milan and I really liked how it showed Milan’s interesting resting position; the pose was also different enough from the sitting position I’d had in mind for Felix that it just might work as a way to “leave space” between them and yet have a composition without holes in it. The open upper left corner kind of naturally balanced.

This portrait of Milan and Felix, with their everyday markings and casual postures, could be any two cats in any household, a couple of rescued cats enjoying their day.

detail of portrait
Detail of Felix’s face.

The two had quiet, friendly natures and their postures certainly conveyed that, but the way I’d work the background should as well. Normally I’d choose a color and shade the subjects would stand out well in front of but in this case it would be a shade of blue and that didn’t really suit them. I used a neutral tan, the shade you find between a tabby cat’s stripes, but worked many pastel colors into the tan, especially in the highlights, and used deep greens for the shadows so they’d stay vibrant though dark.

This portrait is done in Rembrandt pastels for the most part, with finishing detail in Conté pastel pencils, on Wallis sanded pastel paper.

A little more about Milan and Felix and their people—and doggy brother

two cats on deck
Milan and Felix enjoy the deck in June 2011.

Some time after the two cats had come together in the house, their mom noticed Milan wasn’t walking quite right, especially in using his hind legs. Milan was diagnosed with diabetes so she gave him insulin shots and he was fine with it—no one would ever know. Diabetes is not difficult to treat but can be a challenge because of testing and needles. This didn’t bother their mom, so Milan certainly chose the best people to impress! He survived eight years with a great quality of life as Missy let me know in the autumn of 2012 that he’d passed.

This was one of the portraits I had to re-photograph when I discovered my image from a few years before wasn’t up to current reproduction standards. Unfortunately, the details aren’t quite what they could be but no matter, I enjoyed meeting the two and their mom again, and their doggy sister Murphy as well.

Felix said goodbye to Murphy in October 2013, but Missy let me know of a new addition to the Bauer Famil—Izzy, a corgi/spaniel/unknown mix, and says that Felix and Izzy have a special bond.

And I was fascinated with what Missy did with her purses and quilts; you can read more about Missy and Vic in Creating With Cats: Quilted Kitties for Fun and Charity.

About Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book and Great Rescues Day Book

day book with cat portraits
Great Rescues Day Book

Milan and Felix are the April cats in my Great Rescues Day Book, an undated monthly journal to record the dates of birthdays, anniversaries and events featuring sixteen of my commissioned portraits of rescued cats along with their rescue stories.

This book is built from Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book, the original 16-month calendar published in 2011 to inaugurate my series of rescue stories related to the portraits I’ve painted over the years.

Click here or on the image of the book at left, or either of the links above to read more.

Also, read more about Great Rescues families, those who appear in each of the two volumes so far. I’ll be featuring one story each month corresponding with the portrait that appears in the book for that month. That means there are four extra, and I’ll slip those in when the story itself feels appropriate.


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 Commissioned 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.

Also browse 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.

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Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


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.

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.

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