Friday, April 19, 2024
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Daily Sketch: The Cat Mountains

pastel sketch of three cats sleeping
“Cat Mountains”, pastel on pastello paper, 12″ x 9″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski (adjusted version)

When I posted this yesterday I was unhappy with the results of the scan, finding it too contrasty, and mentioned I’d photograph it again in daylight, which I did. This is what you see, above, and it’s far more accurate for color and contrast, while the original scan is below. Read below for my extra insights into the design as well! I may do another photo or scan of it yet; the colors and blending are subtle, and difficult to capture. Such is art! C’est l’art!

Three cats asleep, just like mountains in the dark.

This was purely a visual inspiration, looking at Mimi and Bean and Mewsette all curled into one another, all the ears and backs and peaks and valleys looked like a mountain range to me, so I decided to do a more finished drawing with that idea.

In order to make it convincing to anyone else but me, I had to put the moment into context. Where were these mountains? I thought. And what time of day was it? I decided because they were dark and the highlights were one of the very most inspiring things about them that it had to be night. I added stars to the night sky after I’d let it sit for a while; I didn’t want to, it seemed cliché, but in the end it drew attention away from the cat figures long enough that they did, at first, look like mountains in the darkness.

Where are they? Because they were actually sleeping on my nice flat and level work table, I decided they might be mountains near the desert.

I’ve never seen mountains in the desert under a dark and starry sky. That part is pretty much made up from some photos probably in National Geographic and some creative visualization.

They are worked in pastel on black pastello paper, though unlike yesterday’s sketch I didn’t leave the black open, instead I drew in the darkest areas with black pastel and didn’t leave anything uncovered. And this is one that might do better being photographed because the actual finish is blended, but in the black areas you can see my sketchy lines. I may photograph tomorrow in daylight.

. . . . . . .

Below is the original scan of the art—I did photograph it and could adjust it with less contrast, which is what you see, above.

. . . . . . .

Morning, June 30: after looking at this again this morning I have a few more insights to add to the design. What I was trying to capture was the sense that they rose up organically from the surface, much as mountains in the desert seem to do, and convey both the strength of mountains and the quiet peace of a mountain scene at night under a starry sky. It’s not just an interesting visualization, it’s also descriptive of what I intuitively sense from cats themselves, and especially this particular group of five when they get together in cat piles, that quiet tranquility, yet the strength of their structure evident even as they rest.

I’d mentioned earlier that I typically ignore their color, using their silhouettes as a starting point for new designs, but this time their solid blackness is an important part of this idea, imparting the idea of solid strength. Their mahogany mid-highlights and their blue top highlights were part of the inspiration as well, seeming to describe the slopes and peaks of a mountain. I’m not sure I would have seen this visualization that led to this if they’d been striped or spotted.

And while typically my daily sketches are quick and undetailed studies and a pretty literal interpretation of what I see, this is an example of some of the ideas I have on a regular basis, and which I’ll pursue in between other things.

pastel sketch of cats sleeping
“Cat Mountains”, pastel on pastello paper, 12″ x 9″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

What was I sketching a year ago today?

Happy Slapfest

sketch of two cats fighting
Nothing serious, just a slapfest.

Pow! Right in the kisser! Bean lands a good one on Giuseppe’s nose….see the original sketch and read the original post.

Click here to see other daily sketches.

For a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Cat Art and Prints” section.

Read about the reason for the daily sketches in One Year of Daily Sketches.

And download your free desktop wallpaper calendar for computer or mobile, usually based on a daily sketch.


Thanks to everyone who nominated us for this year’s Pettie Awards!

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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.

© 2013 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski



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17 thoughts on “Daily Sketch: The Cat Mountains

  • This is breathtaking, Bernadette. I really like the adjusted version!

  • Beautiful!! I like the original scan best I think, I may have to go the scanner route if I keep having so much trouble photographing my art.

    • Maxwell n Faraday, I like them both for very different reasons, but I’m pleased with the Cat Mountains.

  • Paulette Smith

    Bernadette, this is absolutely lovely! I look forward to you pursuing more of these ideas!!

    • Paulette, thanks! I’m looking forward to it too–all these ideas, I’m about to burst!

    • Thanks, Nikita and Elvira! I’m pretty pleased with it too–hope everyone’s kitties are as quiet and peaceful as this!

    • Island Cats, this is one time when their solid blackness is an important part of this idea—I’m sure I would have seen it differently if they’d been striped or spotted.

    • Susan, I was channeling what I’d seen in “Born Free”. I’m glad to know you I caught the character accurately enough for you to identify it!

  • How innovative! Great concept. Cat Mountains not Catskills! lol

    • Carolyn, I added a little more to the text this morning after thinking about it overnight–yes, a new mountain range, at least here in my household!


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