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Featured Artwork: Klepto Cat Book Cover No. 32, “Cats Don’t Squeal”

Cats Don't Squeal cover illustration and design

Patricia Fry has another new book, and I have another new cover illustration and design. I had the chance to integrate a new scene into the set of covers: the beach! And a ragdoll kitty, and lots of money.

A good bit of the story of “Cats Don’t Squeal” occurs at the beach where Rags’s family is renting a beach house. Rags has a new friend at this beach house who is part ragdoll and part British shorthair, and Patricia described her just as I was visualizing her, a round face and round body with plushy fur, not long, and the buff body and lighter chocolate markings with white paws and blaze of a ragdoll. Her name is Pauline and she has something in common with Rags…she’s a secret klepto cat.

Patricia would like to see them both on the cover, both cats on a wooden deck with maybe a deck chair, a deep pink plumeria in a pot because they grow nicely in California coastal climates, and the ocean in the background. The two would be looking at something like a piece of jewelry. There is also money involved, Pauline is stealing money from humans when she finds it, and Rags finds a bunch of money on his family’s way driving from northern California to the beaches in southern California, including a few crumpled bills and a big bag of money somewhere.

I had a very clear idea right away. I have photos from southern California that I knew I could choose from and I’ve always wanted to use one, but I have to have height in these illustrations because the covers are tall and narrow and none of my California photos could accommodate that while showing significant ocean in the background. Instead I used one from my trip to Savannah when we visited Hilton Head because of the decking and railing, and the ocean looks about the same either way.

The beach at Hilton Head.
The beach at Hilton Head.

I could picture the ocean in the background, but the deck chair and plant made it seem crowded, and so many geometric patterns going every which way it was distracting. I had pictured Pauline walking on the railing while Rags finds a bag of money in a potted plumeria just below Pauline. It just all came to me at once.

For the reference for Pauline I used the feral Siamese cat in a colony I occasionally take food to, and modified and added on to her until I liked the position and markings.

Pat's feral Siamese cat.
Pat’s feral Siamese cat.

I looked up Plumeria flowers and sketched in a potted plant, added a bag with money falling out of it in the plant, and Rags looking at the money. Thinking of the wind at the beach I visualized money blowing off on the breeze.

And there we are. I layered it all together for my Photoshop comp to show Patricia for approval, then painted it up. You can find Cats Don’t Squeal on

[amazon_link asins=’B07L8Q5BYF’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwbernadette-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’378213e6-0ee2-11e9-9685-691a51ba3598′]

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, and if you click on the Amazon link above I’ll get a tiny bit of money in return.)

And I’m just painting another cover too!

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, The ImPAWsible Mission, and Meowmoirs of a Kleptocat.

Klepto Cat Book Covers

CWA 2017 Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”

2015, 2016 & 2017

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.

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 two runs of note cards from three of the covers.

. . . . . . .

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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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.

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