Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Featured Artwork: Five Favorite September Sketches

charcoal sketch of two black cats asleep
“Front and Back”, white and black charcoal on toned paper, 8″ x 5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski, one of my favorite sketches

Front and Back

Giuseppe and Jelly Bean were sharing the same spot of sun on the landing today, contentedly tucked side to side, facing opposite directions. Jelly Bean looks like just a pile of something. Giuseppe at least has ears. They were absolutely fast asleep.

For all the complicated and detailed larger paintings I’ve done, I’ve always liked this sketch for its simple success at capturing the moment. All my daily sketches were done at least in part from life in the moment, so while these two slept, I stood on the steps and sketched. In just those minutes, the shapes, light and shadow on the tan paper, pulling details and textures where necessary, are simple but full. Any less would have been incomplete, any more overdone. And it has an element of humor as Jelly Bean is just a hemisphere of fur. By this time I had grown quite comfortable with working in black and white charcoal on the toned papers, a style I’d never done prior to this and which I’d always admired. Along with interesting and varied art inspired by cats, learning new things was one of the goals of my plan for daily cat sketches.

I sold the original of this sketch, but prints are available. You can find it on Portraits of Animals. I haven’t yet used it for any gift items, but you can choose from a variety of prints as well as note and greeting cards.

About this collection of sketches

I scroll through my folder of daily sketches regularly, looking for images to use for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes just to look at them. I look at collections images of some sort several times a day for inspiration, guidance, instruction, relaxation, and I’ve always found reviewing my own work, honestly assessing it and just enjoying it was important. September was a particularly fruitful month and there are other sketches I would love to share too, but I wanted to keep this post as simple as this sketch of Giuseppe and Jelly Bean, so I chose my five favorite ones. I have a lot to say about some of them, as in the sketch below, and not too much, as above. I hope you enjoy this collection.

I have a link to the sketch on Portraits of Animals at the end of each description, but the image opens in a new window so you can enlarge and study it if you’d like.

I do maintain a gallery of daily sketches on Portraits of Animals but I’ve been having difficulty with the display galleries on that site and am rebuilding my product pages on a new template. It’s taking a while, but in the meantime you can also look in the Daily Sketches archives here on The Creative Cat. The most recent posts include many to show how I’ve used daily sketches in creating my merchandise and handmade goods, but as you go back a few years you’ll find more posts are just about the sketches.

 

pastel sketch of three cats
“Three Warm Cats on a Cool Ground”, pastel, 7″ x 10″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Three Warm Cats on a Cool Ground

Here’s what I had to say the day I painted it.

Where do these visual inspirations come from? Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine and Mewsette were enjoying the view as I rode my exercise bicycle, having plenty of time to watch them and the light and visualize this composition. I wanted lots of mixed colors, but muted, indefinite edges, but the sketch in black on top of all the pastel. The light comes in the door and fills the space among them, then fades to shadows behind. I had sketchbook and basic pastels to block in the shapes and areas, then finished it later from a photo. Mostly, I had a really strong visual that stayed with me as I played fingerpaints with my pastels on the paper.

As I watched them and began visualizing, I also envisioned the style of another artist. See if you can guess who I mean before you click here to see this painting and especially this painting.

I had seen a painting of koi swimming in a pond and I liked it right away, the rich complementary colors creating a composition that almost seemed to have movement. So why not use my cats to mimic that composition?

When I look at them in that spot, morning or afternoon, the painted gray floor is always cool in color though being gray it captures many ambient colors from the sky and the outdoors. The black cats’ fur reflects warm and I see many brown tones. I began with those and let my mind enhance them as I pedaled my bike, using the built-in “Photoshop” filters in my brain, watching the big pool of light among them, determining which postures I wanted each of them to be in to make a good composition. I both blended the pastels and then painted them on top of what I’d blended for a variety of textures, for full color and muted color, to capture the changing shadows reflected from the sky and trees outdoors. And then, I just did what I felt like doing, adding colors intuitively in shapes that just came to mind. Finally, I sketched their outlines in black pastel atop it all.

Though I painted this in September, temperatures were still plenty hot and feeling like summer. The way the floor turned out, all that turquoise with flashes of darker blue and yellow, made me think of pool water, cool and gently lapping. The red violet, purple, orange and yellow are the colors of summer, flowers and beach umbrellas, bathing suits and pool toys—and koi fish. But those colors are also the colors of autumn as the haze and mist of September tempers the shadows and flowers and leaves make their last stand in brilliant colors as summer winds down, tempered by the muted colors of coming autumn as the season begins to change. It’s always been one of my favorite sketches.

I sold the original sketch, but you can find this art and more on Portraits of Animals. I haven’t yet used it for any gift items, but you can choose from a variety of prints as well as note and greeting cards.

watercolor of three black cats with spattered background
“Looking Out the Front Door”, cropped version, Watercolor, 6″ x 9″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Looking Out the Front Door

Giuseppe, Mimi and Mewsette spend some time watching out the front door. There are birds fluttering and chipmunks racing back and forth across the porch, Fatso the squirrel runs up and down the tree now and then, butterflies and bees fly around, the leaves flutter in the breeze, now and then a car goes by, or people walk up or down the hill, sometimes with a dog. They watch it all with quiet interest. Until the chipmunk goes by.

This took me nearly all day, but only because I wanted to wait for the big splats of watercolor to dry. I’m glad I took a reference photo. The three were long gone by the time I got around to painting them in.

They and other kitties still love to sit at the front door and look out on the street, but this was the time when the big ancient maple still guarded our house, the branches fanning down toward the sidewalk and street to give us privacy, and that’s what the spatters were all about because the leaves were never still. My neighbor’s dogwood was beginning to turn orange tinged with red, and the sunlight angled down over the houses as they marched up the hill creating a warm glow in the air just out front. This was my quick watercolor impression of a sweet moment as the palette changed from green summer to golden autumn. And practice for those beloved watercolor speckles!

You have probably seen this painting as one of my garden flags, and I was very gratified when it was more popular than I’d expected. The original is still available as are various prints and note cards on Portraits of Animals.

watercolor of sleeping curled cat
World Cat, ink and watercolor, 9″ x 12″ © B.E. Kazmarski

World Cat

I sketched this on September 2, 2012, and on that day that I couldn’t sit down in my studio because a certain black cat had taken over my chair, so I was doing other things I could do standing because goddess forbid I move the cat. I remember I spun the chair and the light hit him just right and in the highlights and shadows in his fur I pictured the globe, blue and green, little bits of peach here and there, floating in the dusty cosmos of the Milky way, envisioning an ink sketch with watercolor in those colors.

And so I grabbed my watercolor pad and my favorite Pentel Hybrid Technica drawing pen and sketched his graceful cat curve and shoulders and big ears and minimal details. Then, because he often followed me when I left the room, I tiptoed so I wouldn’t wake him to get a jar of water and assembled my watercolors and brushes and painted the interesting light falling on him from the window and from my work lights using the colors from my limited traveling palette, blue, green, purple, orange and yellow.

It was all over in about 15 minutes. I named the sketch “World Cat” not because Giuseppe represents the world of cats or cats of the world (though he might like to think so), but because I set it aside for the finishing glance and it really did look like an image of the earth from space, that lovely blue and green globe, that I’d seen in that first glance.

Or perhaps it worked out this way because I think the world of my cats.

I sold the original painting but I offer prints and cards on Portraits of Animals.

charcoal sketch of four cats looking like Mt. Rushmore
“Catamount Brushmore”, black and white charcoal on toned paper, 5″ x 7″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Catamount Brushmore

I mean no disrespect to these four presidents, but when I looked down from my computer screen at the four, this is what I saw. Well, what I saw is above, but really, this was what I immediately visualized—look at the photo below I used for reference!

 "Catamount Brushmore" reference photo.
“Catamount Brushmore” reference photo.

Not quite the same, but certainly suggestive! I just moved Bean up a bit. I quickly blocked out the shapes and snapped a reference photo, sketched as long as I could until they’d moved too much, then finished from the photo. In case you didn’t “get it”, I added the blue sky, like that was going to help. And I looked at a photo of the actual Mt. Rushmore and added the pine trees at the bottom for authenticity. From the left it’s Bean, Mr. Sunshine, Mewsette and Giuseppe.

Really, what would I do without such unusual inspirations! What they were doing was invading my desk and preparing to occupy, my daily torture of cuteness and interruption. Better get all my papers and stuff off my desk because everything will be buried under the pile. See below for how the occupation turned out. Look at that Bean belly–he’s laying on top of a small box, how can that be comfortable?

So now I actually get to get back to work so I can finish what didn’t get done with my big inspiration.

four black cats sleeping
How it all ended up.

I still have the original artwork and other sizes and styles of prints available of this sketch, as well as the framed original. You can find it here.

Take a look at other featured artwork.

Each Wednesday I feature a piece of feline artwork from the archives to the present day, discuss its history and process, and often set it up as a free downloadable desktop calendar for just about every electronic device available.


"Feline Style Sampler" book of sketches and portraits.A collection of 34 images of feline artwork

The award-winning* Feline Style Sampler

Now in its third printing, and its sixth anniversary!

Daily sketches, illustrations, commissioned portraits all in a small coil-bound gift book.

Click here or on the image to read more or find this book on Portraits of Animals.

*Certificate of Excellence, Cat Writers’ Association 2014 Communications Contest


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Copyright

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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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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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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