The cover for book 37 in the Klepto Cat Mystery Series would have lots of cats on the cover, cats who were oddly dressed, or at least as far as Rags would consider.
Patricia wrote, “…the story involves a whole stream of cats mysteriously showing up at the Kaiser Bed-and-Breakfast Inn. So we could have Rags looking a bit confused watching cats emerge from a closet—off a shelf or from under a piece of nice furniture, for example.” Some of the cats would be wearing costumes from the Renaissance period, maybe just a fancy collar, some nothing at all (except their fur). She described cats on an ornate sofa, on a side table with a lamp, one or two peering into the room from a closet. Feline color and type of cats wouldn’t matter. All cats are obviously clean and well cared for. “It turns out later that the cats belong to a circus troop of cats and have found an underground tunnel into the inn from where they’re living with their trainer,” she said.
I barely read the final statement than I knew exactly what reference photos I had on hand.
The B&B room room with a sofa, side table and lamp, and a closet for cats to peer from? Back to my friend Judi’s Victorian house, and a photo of her living room I’d taken to use in promotional materials for her.
I could let the right-hand door of the armoire be ajar, far enough for kitties to peer out of it. Rags could be on the chair right next to it, and the kitties could be positioned all over the room!
That was exciting enough, but at just the same time I knew exactly which kitties I wanted to use.
The Amazing Acro-cats! I’d attended their show in Pittsburgh in October 2017 and taken a bunch of photos. I knew many had colorful little collars, there were many colors and coat patterns, they were obviously well cared for, and they were also doing acro-cat-ic things so I’d get a lot of interesting positions to work in around the room too.
I contacted Samantha before I talked to Patricia about it to make sure using photos of her cats was okay with her, and she said it was fine. So I got back to Patricia and described my idea. It sounded good to her too!
I had so many cats to choose from, and so many positions, it took me the longest time to dig through the photos to find exactly which cats to use. I knew I wanted to use white cats inside the armoire so you could see them, and then position cats around the room in interesting places.
And there you are!
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 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. The books are 5″ x 8″, but this illustration was 10″ x 16″, which helped me to paint in all the leaves and details of the bark.
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, Meowmoirs of a Kleptocat, Revenge at its Felinest, FURever Bound, Cats Don’t Squeal, The Secret Claws , FURever Friends, Wrong Side of the Paw, A Whisker of Truth and Cats and Caboodle.
Klepto Cat Book Covers
CWA 2018 Muse Medallion AND Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”
Illustration: Series, Klepto Cat Covers 27 through 32
MUSE™ Medallion and Certificate of Excellence
Patricia publishes about six book each year and I’ve entered the covers since 2015. I’ve won a Certificate of Excellence each year, and this year won a MUSE™ Medallion too.
Click the links above to see the other awards.
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:
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!