Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Featured Artwork: Klepto Cat Book 63, “Rags Shutters a Crime”

Book 63 had so many possibilities I almost couldn’t decide.

My title is “Rags Shutters a Crime.” Or it could be “Rags Shutters a Murder.” I’m using “shutter” as ends or closes or stops. In this story, Rags is being photographed by an advertising promoter. So he’s modeling in front of a camera–thus the use of the term “shutter.”

Rags could be behind the camera, or in front of it as a model. But there needed to be an indication of criminal activity or mystery or mayhem like a knife or a gun that would give the illusion of a crime about to happen or that has happened.

So this is what I came up with. I don’t want to draw or paint a knife or a gun, so how about a threatening shadow? And the red, the top hat, bowtie and title, the alarm from the color. I took a picture of my own camera on a tripod to use, and one of my many wooden stools and used a white photo backdrop, sketched in the threatening shadow. Once it all came together it was so easy!

Here’s the synopsis:

Rags puts his best paw forward in this lively story.

Rags is sought after as a spokes-cat for commercials, but his modeling career is short-lived when it’s interrupted by murder and mayhem. In this story, the wily cat helps solve the mystery of a flooded cat colony, he brings two forgotten kittens together in the sweetest way, and he discovers the identity of a tortured victim. As his finale, he leads authorities to a killer who has slipped through the cracks too many times, but not before the monster lures Savannah and her aunt, Margaret, into his den and almost snuffs out their lives.

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

Just a little note…

We finished this design and cover in February 2023 so I’m finally getting closer to catching up with current covers. Well…we just finished cover 70 which means I’ve got quite a few covers to share in order to get there so while I’m working on other creative activities I will keep sharing these covers. I stopped painting in April 2023 to take care of the four cats I lost, stopped except for Patricia’s book covers for which I was very grateful during that time for the creative outlet that didn’t cut too close to home, and for the income that helped pay for all the care.


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.

2 thoughts on “Featured Artwork: Klepto Cat Book 63, “Rags Shutters a Crime”

  • 15andmeowing

    That is a great cover.


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