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Featured Artwork: New Klepto Cat Book Cover, “Claws for a Cause”

"Claws for a Cause" by Patricia Fry, cover illustration and design.
“Claws for a Cause” by Patricia Fry, cover illustration and design.

It’s time to feature the cover for book number 15 because now Patricia has written another! I have to get started on that cover, but not before I introduce Claws for a Cause.

This story also features three cats, some of whom may be looking very familiar, and a dog! Yes, this time Rags and his cohorts are working with a small afghan hound. The story begins when Rags’ humans’ tropical vacation is over and they return, and a mysterious stranger shows up, and something goes missing, and there are lots of secrets.

Patricia described what she had in mind.

Rags with the red suitcase. He could be with the part Himalayan, Buffy, Walter (black) and even Lexie, the dog. We’ve never had a picture or description of Lexie. She’s part afghan and not very big. I envision her as a golden or darkish blond color with the afghan fur, but she’s smaller than a true afghan.

Okay, one red suitcase with three cats and a dog coming right up! For that suitcase I went back to my good old clip art for a really typical old-fashioned bag, easily recognizable, not one of the ones on wheels with a pull-out handle. When I looked at mine and thought of the illustration I decided, out of context of actually traveling like being in an airport or on a bus or something, one of the newer ones might not really look like a suitcase.

So I put the suitcase in the center of the draft and pictured the animals. Rags would definitely sit on top. We’d have one cat on one side and the dog on the other, one of the cats in front. I decided the black cat would be on the right, and I’d originally wanted him reaching around the corner to swat Rags’ tail. That didn’t work because I couldn’t position the tail in a way I liked, but the black kitty stayed. You may recognize him.

I am not imitating my brother. I would never do that.
I am not imitating my brother. I would never do that.

I knew exactly the afghan hound I’d use in the photo even before I knew which black cat I’d use. He’s Traveler from my commissioned portrait Traveler and Emma.I decided I’d put him behind the suitcase in part so his size wouldn’t overpower the cats, even though he’s not that big, but also so that I could make the suitcase larger if it stretched to the right margin, and therefore all the animals could be larger too.

Traveler, from the portrait of the afghan hounds.
Traveler, from the portrait of the afghan hounds.

And I knew the little Himalayan mix kitty would be either Miko or Sasha from my portrait of Miko and Sasha, in whatever posture fit best in the illustration. Because all three other animals are sitting up, I wanted to do something different with her. Initially I thought she should be chasing Rags’ tail, and I’d wanted Rags facing the opposite direction to accommodate that and to give him a slightly different position than usual, but again, I just couldn’t position the tail right. But there was this darling one of her lying on her back on the steps and that made up for the tail chasing.

Sasha on the steps.
Sasha on the steps.

For Rags, I used the one of the photos I regularly use to keep him consistent from one cover to the next, and placed him atop the suitcase.

But what to use in the background? I asked Patricia if she had any ideas, and this would be another interior, possibly with a window and some woodwork. I thought about all the photos I have that I could use for reference and decided on one of my favorites from a friend’s house showing the door to the garden and some nice colors and details like the sidelights and the tile floor.

Here is the original sketch.

The sketch for "Claws for the Cause".
The sketch for “Claws for the Cause”.

I loved it, it was pretty, colorful, interesting, and actually a photo I’d taken because I wanted to paint it so here I got to do just that. But there was something about it that just didn’t work for me. It was a little too busy and detailed, mostly because of the garden outside the door. If there had been fewer animal subjects the garden would have been fine, but I felt the garden and the animals were in competition, and since the story was about them and not the garden, I decided I would change it.

If you look at the cover at the top of the article, you’ll see the view out the windows is a little ghosted, as it would be if the sun was hitting the windows. I did that effect in Photoshop on a layer with just a transparent white in those rectangles, and immediately the animals became the subject of the sketch, all four of them looking right at me. I began layering white pastel over the windows on the actual sketch, but found it awkward with the smaller size of the sketch. I decided the transparent layer I’d added in Photoshop was probably the best solution.

You can find Claws for a Cause on

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 1e 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 and Meow for the Money.

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.

. . . . . . .

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.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile 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.

© 2016 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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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