I love the cover illustrations that have a full scene and contains lots of details that provide clues, but I also love painting cat portraits because I love the close-up study of each feline. This cover kind of filled both of those descriptions. Patricia emailed that she was working on book 40 (we had just finished the cover for book 39!) and recalled a pretty kitty from the cover of book 21 and liked the look of that cover with the cats close up and just a few details in the space around them.
This cover would have Rags and the kitty possibly sitting in a little red wagon belonging to one of the very young characters in the book, and possibly even including him from behind, pulling the wagon, while the cats were facing the viewer. I loved it right away!
The kitty would need a few changes from Tiffany because Gliori was a different long-haired calico, just changing her markings a bit and giving her gold eyes, and she sent me a photo of Daisy, one of her cats from years ago. She also suggested that Rags could be licking Daisy’s face, and sent me a photo of Smokey with his tongue out. So I put Daisy’s face on Tiffany and positioned Rags to be licking the floof on the side of her face.
I did all I could do to have Teddy pulling the wagon, but there just wasn’t enough space for enough of the boy to make it clear who he was even if I made the two smaller. Instead we discussed adding some toys in the scene to denote the age of the child, and Patricia suggested the top, jack-in-the-box and the fire engine. Believe it or not, I have a stock of photos of little kids’ toys from when my nieces and great kids were little. I knew I’d use them someday.
This cover was very fun, but it went by way too fast! Here is the plot of this story:
Rags becomes a pawn in a most preposterous plot. Savannah’s on high alert after someone threatens to take Rags. Every stranger becomes a suspect and every encounter causes more uncertainty. Meanwhile, Glori, the special-needs cat settles into the Ivey home nicely. In fact some of her characteristics cause interesting speculation. Could the sweet calico actually be related to Rags? You might have some ideas of your own once you get to know Glori. Rags is oblivious to his stalker. He just continues being Rags. He puts a lot of energy into welcoming Glori into the family, with a few unexpected calamities. He helps Teddy celebrate his second birthday, and manages to steal the show. He also saves a little boy and is the catalyst that just might mean a better life for the child. Behind the scenes, Savannah and Detective Craig Sledge work to expose the stalker, but time is running out. How much longer can they keep Rags safe? And what is Glori’s role in all of this?
When I wrote about book 39 I asked, “Well, that’s six books for Patricia and six books in this year. But wait, does she have time for one more? I guess we’ll see!” Well, she did! Patricia wrote seven books in 2019! And now we are working on book 41!
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, Cats and Caboodle, A Very Meowy Christmas, A Purrfectly Perilous Plot and Meow and Forever
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
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:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!