Featured Artwork: “Afternoon Nap”

 "Afternoon Nap", pastel on hand-finished paper, 7.5" x 7.5", 2004 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Afternoon Nap”, pastel on hand-finished paper, 7.5″ x 7.5″, 2004 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A Portrait of an Old Cat: Afternoon Nap

~~~

An old cat, a gentleman,
he has found a quiet spot, upstairs in the afternoon,
and has so perfectly placed himself a little off-center
on the expanse of white bedspread,
illuminated by stark winter light through the window.
(Stanley finds all the best places.)

~~~

You know those moments where you walk upon a scene of your cats doing something that you always want to remember, whether it’s a regular habit or a one-time thing? This scene was one of Stanley’s regular habits during his last few years; every afternoon he’d head upstairs with intent and I’d find him curled in the same spot on the bed.

Portrait or sketch?

All of my art begins with a moment, be the subject my cats or nature or even a more abstract visual theme. It’s where I go from that moment of inspiration that differs from one work to the next. Sometimes I’ll decide on a more formal portrait, more detailed, more planned, to capture a moment. I’ll take photos and write a few notes and keep it in my files for the day when I have time to follow up, and often this is determined by how often and how clearly my original image appears in my conscious mind—sometimes a painting really wants to be done and I find myself visualizing it all the time, other times it leaves and comes back at a moment that is meaningful. But sometimes I’ll do a quick sketch and leave it at that. The image is simple, it works best small, I only want to capture the mood, and there isn’t enough essential detail to warrant a larger, more detailed piece.

But sometimes I’ll do a quick sketch and leave it at that. The image is simple, it works best small, I only want to capture the mood, and there isn’t enough essential detail to warrant a larger, more detailed piece.

With “Afternoon Nap” I decided I wanted that moment. I’d already taken a few photos of him just to preserve the moment and was considering this sort of a scene as a more formal portrait. At his age he slept pretty soundly but I still tiptoed out of the room and ran down the stairs for my stuff. I grabbed my small box of pastels and a piece of my “experimental” drawing paper, choosing a heavy drawing paper to which I’d applied marble dust mixed with gesso and just a little bit of fine fine grit pastel medium, applying it with a brush to have just a bit of texture. I got to work, standing at the foot of the bed to quickly capture the essence of the scene I visualized in that instant: all the shades of shadow and highlight in the white bedspread, the fold under the pillows and the curve of the mahogany headboard just giving enough detail to know it was a bed, and the pastel winter light full of sun and just a bit of green reflected from the ivy on the tree outside the window. Instead of drawing with the ends of the pastels I dragged them over the surface in layers to get the depth of color and shadows, Stanley himself just in simple tonal colors, the only solid detail in his white paw.

 

Just like "After Dinner Nap", how much to include?
Just like “After Dinner Nap”, how much to include?

 

On this day I went upstairs for something and saw Stanley on the bed. As usual I had my little digital camera with me, the old original 2MP that captured surprisingly good photos. I took the photo below, but in standing there and studying the image I decided I wanted the light, the delicate colors, just a hint of the objects and the sketch began to materialize. I hurried to get my art stuff for the sketch I was visualizing.

At his age he slept pretty soundly but I still tiptoed out of the room and ran down the stairs for my stuff. I grabbed my small box of pastels and a piece of my “experimental” drawing paper, choosing a heavy drawing paper to which I’d applied marble dust mixed with gesso and just a little bit of fine fine grit pastel medium, applying it with a brush to have just a bit of texture. I got to work, standing at the foot of the bed to quickly capture the essence of the scene I visualized in that instant: all the shades of shadow and highlight in the white bedspread, the fold under the pillows and the curve of the mahogany headboard just giving enough detail to know it was a bed, and the pastel winter light full of sun and just a bit of green reflected from the ivy on the tree outside the window. Instead of drawing with the ends of the pastels I dragged them over the surface in layers to get the depth of color and shadows, Stanley himself just in simple tonal colors, the only solid detail in his white paw.

Stanley on the bed from February 21, 2003, the day I did the sketch.
Stanley on the bed from February 21, 2003, the day I did the sketch.

It was all over in about ten minutes, and though I’d taken the reference photo I never made any changes from that initial inspired session. In its frame, I have allowed the edges to show, mounting it on deep burgundy mat board. I still have this painting, treasure it for its memory of Stanley as he watches over my office, and use it as inspiration for other similar sketches.

You’re probably familiar with “After Dinner Nap”, another memorable and inspirational moment. This image could have gone either way, painting or sketch, but in this case I was intent on capturing all the subtle details in his face, and all that wonderful direct and reflected light.

I decided to try something new when I framed this piece, and instead of covering the edges with a mat I cut the mat to fit around it and mounted it on a piece of mat board. I like it still today.

 

"Afternoon Nap" framed.
“Afternoon Nap” framed.

~~~

I love snow light, inside or out, and with the bare trees and anticipating snowfall I’m reminded of other snowy days and the cats who enjoyed them with me. Today I’m featuring five paintings of my cats done in winter light, each rescued from a life outdoors in the cold, ice and snow, and glad I could provide a loving home from where they could simply enjoy a snowy day from the inside. At the end I have information about where you can find each of these images.

 


Where to find this artwork

“Afternoon Nap” is one in a set I call “Winter Cats”, four loose sketches of cats capturing a simple moment of peace in that wonderful winter light. Some of the originals are still available (yes, I am ready to give them up); if you are interested in the details, please ask.

And also:

You can also request a custom product with one of these images, and keep checking my Etsy shop or sign up for my e-newsletter below to find where else I apply these images.


Read about other Featured Artwork

Each Wednesday I feature a piece of artwork: commissioned artwork, portraits in progress, paintings of my own cats, feline-themed commercial works, creating a product from my artwork and artwork from my archives. Choose the categories featured artwork.


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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.


© 2016 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | 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!

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Bernadette

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.

4 thoughts on “Featured Artwork: “Afternoon Nap”

    • January 27, 2016 at 9:33 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks so much, Jasmine! Stanley lived to be 25, it’s a wonderful memory.

      Reply
    • January 8, 2016 at 9:15 am
      Permalink

      Thanks, Christine! I have it in a spot in my house where I see it all the time.

      Reply

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