Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Featured Artwork: Klepto Cat Book 61, “Meow Me A Murder”

I actually designed and painted this cover in December 2022, so I’m a little behind, but working on catching up. Meow Me A Murder, a frightening title but a frighteningly easy composition.

Patricia described the story and her idea: this one involves Rags loose on the streets of San Francisco and he comes across some victims of a local mugger, he he reveals the culprit, but they they have to follow Rags’s path while he was missing using cameras and eye witnesses. Perhaps show Rags with a body—just the legs showing, blood on the clothes, maybe a woman. Rags looking curiously or fretfully at a bloody scene. I didn’t like the thought of a bloody scene but Patricia was “open to ideas,” an open doorway, woman’s body, just showing legs. Or it could be a woman on a pathway–a dog walker and the dog is alone. This mass murderer/mugger is striking in neighborhoods as well as rural settings in the San Francisco area.

That absolutely worked for me, and in fact I knew the photos I’d use right away! I knew I had photos of people sitting on grass from a few different events, and since I’d just be showing the legs I didn’t need to check with the subject. Usually I save all the reference images into the folder for the book cover, but in this case I did not, and now I can’t find those legs! I apparently just pasted it into the layered image.

I do, however, have the photo of Namir that I used for Rags, and the photo I’d taken of one of the dogs from a commissioned portrait who was just right for this cover in every way, and the background from a photo I’d take of another dog that same day for the grass and background.

I’ve used that photo of Namir on a few covers. The photos of Apollo and Sheena were from the portrait of Sheena, Casey, Madison, Apollo and Ginger. Their people and I took a walk through a favorite local county park in autumn, fun all around. I didn’t use either pose in the portrait but I took a lot of photos just in case and several of them have come in handy.

Here’s the synopsis:

Rags confronts a serial killer.

Savannah and Rags go on the road to promote her books. Little does Savannah know there’s a murderer running rampant in the big city until Rags disappears. The cat returns with clues and evidence, but what do they mean? Answers come from the most unexpected sources and the hunt is on for the killer with Rags leading the charge. Will they find the latest victim in time? How will they stop the killer—someone who is known only to the cat? In this story, Rags also rescues an infant, saves some at-risk wild animals, and helps a friend re-discover himself.

You can find this book on Patricia’s website and on

About the materials for the cover illustration

I use a self-prepared two-ply illustration board with a very fine surface texture to hold the pastel, and also be able to use other media. It’s not entirely opaque so I can put it on my light table and trace the details in place. I initially started out with a sketch in watercolor but I’ve been using my brush markers more often to block in the colors and especially the dark areas; the markers don’t cause as much ripple in the paper and have cleaner edges than watercolors. Then I put it on my easel and finish it with my pastels, a mix soft pastels and pastel pencils especially for details. Depending on textures I need in the art I sometimes similar weight drawing papers with different textures too.

Getting all the details just right on an illustration like these book covers can be tricky when they are small. Depending on the detail in the illustration, I work them almost twice the final size of the cover—the cover is 5″ x 8″ and I work at 9″ x 12″ or larger.

Other illustration materials I’ve used

I don’t use paper for most of these illustrations but chose Ampersand brand Pastelbord, which is a piece of Masonite with a very fine clay and marble-dust coating that has very little texture but holds layers of pastel so I can both do my finger-painting thing with blending softer pastels and sketch with harder pastels and pastel pencils, and it stands up well to multiple changes. I began the painting with soft pastels to cover the major areas with layers of color. I finished up the details and edges with pastel pencils.

But once I began working out the covers with all this Victorian detail like PAWSitively Sinister, I needed a little assistance in keeping the details in order so it didn’t take me until next year to do the painting. Especially when working with patterns it’s important nothing is out of place or it’s immediately noticeable. I start with a complete composite that I’ve built in Photoshop using all the photos and images and art so that Patricia can see just what it will look like, and I have all the details in place. It’s far more difficult to correct an illustration than a Photoshop composite, which I can adjust infinitely. That way, when I get to my actual painting, all the decisions have been made and I just need to paint.

I use a self-prepared two-ply illustration board with a very fine surface texture to hold the pastel, and also be able to use other media. It’s not entirely opaque so I can put it on my light table and trace the details in place. I start out with a sketch in watercolor and even marker to block in the colors and especially the dark areas. Then I put it on my table and finish it with my pastels, first the soft pastels for coverage, then pastel pencils for details.

Depending on the detail in the illustration, I work them sometimes twice the final size of the cover. Getting all the details just right on an illustration like these book covers can be tricky when they are small.

About these book covers

I’ve illustrated over 70 covers for Patricia over two series of cat mysteries. You can see the Klepto Cat covers below and search “Klepto Cat” to find all the posts.

Klepto Cat Book Covers

CWA 2018 and 2022 Muse Medallion AND Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”


Patricia publishes nearly a dozen books each year and I’ve entered the covers since 2015. I’ve won a Certificate of Excellence each year for either or both the Klepto Cat Mysteries and the Calico Cat Mysteries, and often won a MUSE™ Medallion too.

2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022

Click the links above to see the other awards.

Bookmarks for Patricia L. Fry's books.
Bookmarks for Patricia L. Fry’s books.

All books are available in electronic format and most for print on as well as find the print versions on Patricia’s website. Reviews have been good, and a few reviewers have even mentioned the covers! I hope you enjoy these books, and Patricia and I are currently working on the next cover. That woman can write!

When we finished book 12 we also updated the two-sided bookmark that includes all twelve books so far which Patricia can hand out at book signings and book shows.

We’ve also printed several runs of note cards from multiple covers, including a Christmas series.

. . . . . . .

Read more about book covers I’ve designed. Also, click here to read more about the Purrs of Wisdom cover and bookmarks, and also about books I’ve designed on my blog, What’s New?

Are you interested in illustrations or a book cover, or book design? Please contact me, I’ll be happy to discuss your project.

Featured Artwork

Each week on Wednesday I feature a piece of artwork, sometimes a current or historic portrait, sometimes an illustration or an art project from years ago, usually cat-themed, but sometimes wildlife or even non-animal subjects, and even projects from my commercial art life. Read other Featured Artwork posts.

Custom Commissioned Artwork and Illustrations from Portraits of Animals


From Animal Portraits to Book Covers to Advertisements

In addition to creating commissioned portraits beloved animal companions for the past 25 years, I’ve also been a commercial artist since the 1980s both full-time and freelance and created many illustrations, book covers, advertisements, display signs and more. Visit my Commissioned Artwork pages to read more. They are not quite complete at the moment but there is still quite a bit to look at.


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.

One thought on “Featured Artwork: Klepto Cat Book 61, “Meow Me A Murder”

  • Brian's Home ~ Forever

    That does sound like a really good one!


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