Friday, June 14, 2024
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Commissioned Portrait: Three Portraits

pastel portrait of siamese cat
Penny Portrait 1.

Above is the first of three portraits I have of sweet Penny, and it’s the one I still have in my studio, but all from about a decade ago. I realized I’ve never written about this/these portraits, so here we are.

The drawing papers I use for pastel are pretty specific, and the ones I prefer for my portraits are, or were at that time, one brand of sanded paper in particular. Sometimes I have a bad start or a bad finish on a painting, or I paint the wrong image from a group of photos, for instance. I will always try to make it work, even if it doesn’t work for my original intent or a commissioned work. I’ve given some paintings years to figure out and most of them, I have. Every once in a while there’s one that I just can’t work with and I will carefully use a kneaded eraser and remove as much of that painting as I can and reuse the paper. It’s expensive, and better it be used than sitting around my studio with a painting that I don’t want.

In a round of cleaning and organizing five or six years ago I remember finding the painting above. It was a draft I’d done for a portrait from 2012-2013, but it wasn’t the pose the person wanted. By that time the sanded paper I’d always used was no longer made, and all the stock in inventory was nearly gone, so I decided I should remove this portrait and use that paper for the next portrait I was about to work on. A friend was helping me with this and I handed it to her to work on, but she said “no,” I should keep this one, it was a nice painting.

I did like this painting. Just because it wasn’t the one the person wanted, and that was my fault, didn’t mean I couldn’t do something else with it. But I had no idea what to do with a painting of someone else’s Siamese cat so I tucked it away and decided I’d figure it out someday.

More cleaning and organizing over the past two years, and I found it again and moved it to a new place where I’ve been holding art to be stored or framed. Then just recently setting up the cat tree for the boys in my studio and changing around all the shelves and storage racks I found it again and realized I’d also never featured it here or anywhere.

So I decided I could frame and sell a painting of someone else’s Siamese cat, and I could feature it here.

The portrait commission for Penny

Penny was the beloved Siamese of a person who had won my donated portrait certificate at a shelter benefit auction, and had lost her at some point near that time. He sent me a bunch of photos and told me the things he loved best about her: the curled tail, the blue eyes, her slender build and the way she sat straight upward. I drafted the pose above out of the photos he sent, the front of her from face down from one as she was sitting next to a wall, and her back and tail from other photos.

I had just lost Cookie and Kelly wasn’t well; I would lose her in August that same year. I also remember I had some serious email issues and I changed over from one program to another, so I missed messages completely. Designing and painting this portrait took me quite a bit of time, more than I should have let it take, and I did forget one important detail—Penny had a head tilt when she looked at him. I agreed I should start over. He gave me more photos, and one of them was perfect. I used it to paint this draft portrait.

pastel portrait of siamese cat
Penny Portrait 2

Even though Portrait 2 was the image from the photo, I was never happy with it. I kept going back to it and trying to adjust it until it felt right to me but it wasn’t, taking more time. I like it as a painting, but it didn’t feel like Penny.

He didn’t care for it either so we’d work on another. I knew I was having a hard time focusing and probably just shouldn’t have been painting that year in the first place, but I couldn’t imagine not painting. So more photos and I designed the portrait below from all of them and his suggestions and finally it was the portrait he wanted, and I really like it and I still do.

pastel portrait of siamese cat
Penny Portrait 3, the final.

Here’s a detail of Penny’s face in this portrait.

pastel portrait of siamese cat
Detail of Penny’s face.

So the third time was a charm and it was worth all the work to create Penny’s portrait. He also wanted Portrait 2 because that was a favorite pose of hers.

Framed Original Draft Portrait, “Blue”

pastel portrait of siamese cat
Penny Portrait 1.

And I’ve framed Penny’s portrait, but I’m calling it “Blue.”

I have sold prints of portraits, but I don’t like to use another commissioned pet’s name when I sell a print to someone else, and I don’t like to use Penny’s name when it’s not going to her person.

Blue was a Siamese cat of a friend and I always liked the name—despite the distinctive fur markings it’s often the bright blue eyes of a Siamese cat that are most remarkable to people.

And as always, when I get a good photo of the framed painting, I’ll share it in the post.

You can find that framed original painting here.

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.

Watch my video with information and lots of 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.

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