From the first covers I illustrated and designed for Patricia I’ve included lots of my own kitties, including three fosters I’ve lost. Patricia has also included her mother’s cat, the actual model for Rags, the main character. Over the summer Patricia lost one of her two kitties, precious Lily, at only 11 years old to congenital renal failure. She had been diagnosed with it quite young, but Patricia and her veterinarian were able to pull Lily over the rough spots over the years. With another book coming up, Patricia decided to include Lily in the story, and, of course, on the cover.
But how to do that, and which of so many photos to use? Patricia mentioned her incredible eyes and her very expressive face, like a kitten face. But how to include her on the cover was the hard part. Rags had to make an appearance because he’s the main character. The cats are always in the house, so she could be the newcomer with Rags and one or two other cats looking at her and maybe sniffing her. She also mentioned that Lily had been trapped with a feral colony as a kitten, and Rags could be looking out the door and see her. I also thought of our cover for The ImPAWSible Mission where Rags is sitting on a windowsill outside looking at a kitty inside—Lily could be outside looking in at Rags.
But I remembered a photo I’d taken of my friend Judi’s gray cat looking out the door into her garden, and I knew that was it, with Rags on the inside and Lily right outside the door looking in.
The lighting on Lily’s face was the perfect angle and dimension to fit the composition.
Here is the plot of this story:
Rags is treated to some sweet surprises in this enchanting story. It’s love at first purr when Savannah meets an adorable fur-being in a most unlikely setting. At the same time she encounters a lovely young girl named Gabby—both of whom enrich Savannah’s life enormously. With Rags’s help, Savannah nurtures the kitten with every intention of finding her the purr-fect forever home. They also mentor the girl, who’s excited to be an integral part of Savannah’s feral cat rescue team.
While the little tabby turns the Ivey household upside down in the most entertaining way, Gabby becomes involved in some of the Iveys’ family outings. You’ll delight in their amusing and even hilarious antics. Of course, the cats are a big part of it all. Meanwhile, Savannah’s mother, Gladys, learns that, not only has someone burglarized her storage unit, they’ve moved into it. This multi-faceted story has the charm you expect in the Klepto Cat Mysteries and the suspense you crave.
I have just finished the cover for book 46, and am about to start on the cover for book 47!
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, Whiskerful Thinking, Paws for Trouble, and Love at First Purr.
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!