Typically I gather a large number of reference images for the book covers, create an image in Photoshop and then work from there (as I am with the cover I’m working on now). But for this one I had a lot of images including both photos and paintings but still took a bunch of marginal cell photos of things and cats around the house, picked and pieced things from all of them, modified all the pieces, then added them in. In the finished painting you really can’t tell.
This book in the series is different—as the title suggests, it’s a “Meowmoir”, looking back at Rags’ beginnings. Rags is about eight months old when his person Savannah adopts him, and she lives in a small apartment that has a grassy area outdoors. Patricia described a scene where he swipes a small tattered teddy bear from a toddler in the complex.
I could visualize this right away and began collecting photos, took more photos, and even used some of my paintings. I had a photo of one of my great nieces, who does not have straight blonde hair nor was she standing in the grass but was in the right posture, then I saw this hair on another child in the same photo from when we visited the zoo years ago.
The scene takes place in spring and I had that nice photo of the tulips from a house I passed, but they were by the road with a picket fence and I needed grass so I made it up, using memories from all the animal portraits I’ve painted with grass underfoot. Then there were was the background, not other buildings, but trees, even though it’s in LA—so I went out onto the deck to photograph the trees in my back yard.
The little stuffed toys, well, they are actually cat toys and are much smaller than the ones in the photo, but they work anyway, painted from more marginal cell photos.
Because Rags’ spot in the illustration is tight and I knew he had to be foreshortened somehow, I watched my cats for a position where they were standing at an angle or turned slightly, tail up, tail down, looking at me, looking around, and took a bunch of pretty bad cell photos of Mewsette, Mr. Sunshine and Giuseppe, put all the parts together I wanted, then added Rags’ gray color and markings.
About the illustration materials
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 stand 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. I used a self-prepared paper with a very fine surface texture and not entirely opaque so I could put it on my light table and trace the details in place and even draw on the light table with pastel pencils. These illustrations are 8″ x 10″ and the books are 5″ x 8″. Because the illustration is reduced in size it’s easy to lose details so I can’t go too big, and especially when working with patterns it’s important nothing is out of place or it’s immediately noticeable. Getting all the details just right on an illustration like this interior with cats can be tricky when it’s this small. The risk with this paper is that the surface is delicate and actually drawing too hard will remove the roughened texture and I’ll have a hole in my drawing! But it’s great fun to take my Photoshop composite and turn it into a painting.
About these book covers
I’ve illustrated a total of 19 covers for Patricia. You can see them below, but unfortunately you can’t click on the images to go to the article and read more about them. Use these links instead: Catnapped, Cat-Eye Witness, Sleight of Paw, Undercover Cat, The Colony Cat Caper, The Corral Cat Caper, Gallery Cat Caper, Mansion of Meows, Celebrity Cat Caper, Pawtners in Crime, Pawsitively Sinister, The Purrfect Lie, A Picture Purrfect Christmas, Meow for the Money, Claws for a Cause, Cabin FURvor, A MEOWvelous Witness, Cats in Cahoots, The Amazing CATventure, By Crook or By Cat, Merriment, Mayhem and Meows, A Christmas to Purr About, Cattywampus Travels, Cats in the Belfry, CATalyst for Clues., The Perilous PURRsuit, Secrets, Trickery and Meows, and The ImPAWsible Mission.
CWA 2017 Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”
For three years in a row my illustrations for the Klepto Cat Mysteries have won Certificates of Excellence in the Cat Writers’ Association’s annual communications contest. The covers included in these awards include covers 9 through 20, or Mansion of Meows through By Cat or By Crook.
All books are available in electronic format and most for print on Amazon.com 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 two runs of note cards from three of the covers.
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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.
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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Weekly schedule of features:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!