Well that red splash just shouts for attention, doesn’t it? But then you look below it and see it’s paint. What’s the story?
This cover was fun and came together quickly. Patricia pretty much described the scene as she was writing the book. I visualized the arrangement and only needed to find the right bed. In fact, I usually have a number of reference photos to share, but in this case I pulled little bits and pieces from so many photos and modified them to make up nearly each cat and object in the illustration that it probably wouldn’t make sense looking at them. So I’ll just describe most of it.
The character whose dress is on the bed is planning to wear it to attend a wedding at the Ivey’s home. She draped it over the bed and left, coming back to find it splashed with something red! That did turn out to be paint, but it was obviously a warning to her.
In this scene, Rags, the klepto cat, and Glori, the lovely long-haired calico who has often appeared with him, find the dress. Patricia suggested using something that would indicate it was paint and not blood, like Rags finding a paintbrush or including a paint can. One cat could be on the bed and one on the floor to spread them out. I had initially visualized more detail in the room because it takes place in an old restored Victorian farmhouse, like a nightstand with a Victorian lamp and some photos on the table and maybe even a poster bed, but once I found the photo(s) of the bed I visualized this right away. I like the simplicity and directness of it.
The bed is pieced together from many photos of my cats on my bed with different bedspreads and decorative pillows. I used the lighting from the main photo, and I like that it appears sunlight is coming from a window to the left. I draped some fabric over the edge and photographed it then sketched around it to make it look like a dress. In the story, the dress is apricot, and I played around with the color/pattern of the bed coverings, thinking flowers would be pretty and in keeping with the Victorian theme. But I really wanted that red splash to stand out so I removed all the patterns and in the end made it solid. I really liked the idea of seafoam green to contrast with the red, but when I did the thumbnail squint test to see which was more eyecatching on a computer, the blue actually worked better. So blue it is.
We’ve seen Tiffany before as the long-haired calico as Merriment, Mayhem and Meows and Meow and Forever. And I often use a photo of Namir to stand in for Rags because he was similarly marked, though Rags is a big boy and Namir was smaller and slender so I have to beef him up.
I gave Glori one of those cat expressions that tells you exactly how cats feel about what humans do that to them is an utter waste of time, and also not very pleasing to look at.
I considered how to have Namir interact with the paint can and added the brush on top, then had him reaching for the handle. I liked the detail of possible disaster there too, as he might flip it into the air and spread more paint.
The paint splotch shapes are from clip art. I placed them on the dress, then shaded the red to give it dimension on the dress.
Here is the plot of this story:
I have painted and designed cover 45 and am now drafting the cover for Book 46.
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, Meow and Forever , Cats of a Feather The Secret in the Whiskers and Whiskerful Thinking
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 several runs of note cards from multiple covers, including a Christmas series.
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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!