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Commissioned Portraits: Star and Pepe, and Their House, in Autumn

pastel portrait of german shepherd and terrier
“Star and Pepe”, 1994, pastel, 12″ x 16″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This couple had decided they wanted two pieces of artwork done at the same time so they could hang them together. They had relatives who had commissioned me to paint their cats and their parents’ house (Christie, Felix, etc.), so this couple wanted both a portrait of their dogs and of their relatively brand new house, which obviously wasn’t complete without their dogs. And it was autumn, such wonderful light and color.

Star and Pepe weren’t cuddle buddies and though they were totally different in their relationship with their humans and the way they’d come into their lives, they shared the duties of guarding their home in their own ways.

Star, a papered German Shepherd, was a working dog—an old farm dog, a guard dog, and sometimes a herding dog. Having started out his life on a farm, this couple had had to sell the small farm after an injury prevented them from working it any more, kept a couple acres of land and built a home. Star came with them to the new home, but while he’d been well-fed and cared for and was very much loved by his people, he’d spent a good bit of his life running the perimeter of the fences, patroling the barns and keeping intruders and wildlife away from the animals in the fields. When they moved to the house he was not interested in sleeping on the couch and though they had acreage letting him to roam as he had on the farm just didn’t work. The compromise was to give him a big sheltered house outside and a long lead on a run so that he had could still run some distance, inspect what was happening at the edge of the woods and keep an eye on his home.

When I met him he was about 15 years old, and in 1994 that was very old for a German Shepherd and it was easy to see he had some arthritis and found it difficult to run, but he greeted his people and me with all the gravity of his lifelong occupation of working dog.

Pepe on the other hand was a coddled little Yorkie who thought of himself just as much the watchdog as his far larger and more muscular fur brother, but what he lacked in strength he made up for volume. The people had decided they wanted a dog to be in the house with them but didn’t want a large dog, and they wanted a dog that would be happy to accompany them outdoors in all weather and Pepe filled that description. He and Star regularly checked in with each other, touching noses, exchanging glances, sharing canine information all the while I was there, Star pretty much lying or walking in one area near his house, and Pepe running circles around him and us and everything else. The people loved them both, allowing the two dogs to be who they were.

The house portrait

House portrait, 1994, watercolor, 12" x 16" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
House portrait, 1994, watercolor, 12″ x 16″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

At that time I painted houses in watercolor, not pastel, because it was easier to work the fine details and I just preferred the way they turned out in watercolor. The two would be the same size and would be matted and framed the same.

I was so pleased to be able to paint both in autumn for all its colors, but especially the house, since it was largely white. I had a great time with the window reflections and the shadows from those huge maple trees. I photographed both of these pieces through the glass, not necessarily the best way to capture detail.

And I’d unsuccessfully searched for the reference photos I’d taken to create these portraits, then I remembered that way back in the beginning I dedicated one or more rolls of film to a portrait and I charged my customers for it when I had to visit them to photograph my subjects, so I gave them the photos when the art was done.

Star began staying in their garage over that winter, though he demanded to be let out first thing each morning by digging at the door, and Pepe barked until Star was out on his lead. But by early the next summer he was beginning to fail until all they could do was open the garage door for him each day. I was very touched when they called me near the time he died to tell me how he was doing, and then when he’d passed. Star had a huge spirit that wouldn’t have been contained by a house even if he’d been raised in one, and I could feel all the loyalty and strength that was the essence of the domestic dog that had accompanied the human race for millennia when I was with him.

. . . . . . .

For a couple of other autumn portraits see also Betts, Sophie and Ellie, Being Very Good and Cassie and Tyler, Rescued Rescue Dogs.

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.

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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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