Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Daily Sketch: A New Assignment

charcoal sketch of siamese cat
Cranberry, charcoal, in the style of Clare Turlay Newberry © B.E. Kazmarski

A friend has written a brief little book, not so much for the sake of publishing, but for the sake of memory. My friend grew up on Long Island and her mother was a librarian and cat lover. She remembered her mother reading the books of Clare Turlay Newberry and studying the illustrations, and carried on the tradition with her daughters.

She lost her mother three years ago after a stroke, but her mother’s one adamant wish was that my friend would take her Siamese cat, Cranberry, even though she had two children in New York who liked cats and my friend is in Pittsburgh. Cranberry still lives with her and is a daily reminder of her mother.

After a happy little instance with Cranberry she quickly wrote a simple story, visualizing it as a children’s book in much the same style as the books her mother had read to her while growing up, and those she had read to her girls. When she told me about it she asked me if I would illustrate it someday, but at that time my own mother was in her last year and to my great sadness I had little time for art.

A few of my readers have compared my sketches to Clare Turlay Newberry, which for me is an incredible honor, to be compared to one of the most famous feline illustrators in history! I told this to my friend, who recalled her book and said she’d love to see it through and dedicate it to her mother. She sent me a copy of Newberry’s Marshmallow as the book she most visualized while she was writing.

I had begun with my favorite, comfortable pencil sketches, but with that book went on an all-out study of Clare Turlay Newberry’s work. As an illustrator, I am often given a style suggestion, which is fine with me. Emulating a famous author’s style, well if I had some elements of her style to begin with, then by studying her I would gather more, and most importantly, learn. It’s how I’ve learned most of what I know about drawing and painting, studying.

So here is Cranberry on the front steps. The charcoal didn’t scan terribly well, it looks all blotchy in some areas and rough in others, but the essentials of Cranberry are there. I can see I’ll have to use a slightly toothier paper to hold the charcoal and I know just the one I’ll use. I am working on other sketches for the book as well, and enjoying every minute.


Click here to see other daily sketches, and for a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

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 purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


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