Well, who doesn’t like a nice holiday scene with a Christmas tree and a kitten and a cat and a cute little girl? Yes, not only has Patricia added one more title to her series to make it a baker’s dozen, it’s a special story too. I looked forward to this cover, especially in the heat of August when Patricia first mentioned it.
Patricia described a little girl with dark curly hair wearing a pink bathrobe and sitting with Rags and a long-haired white kitten looking at a Christmas tree as her idea. The little girl, Marissa, was about ten years old but was handicapped and looked younger and smaller than her age. Marissa is kidnapped and they all look for her. I immediately visualized the illustration. I had the purrfect photo of a decorated Christmas tree that I’d taken years before (2007) at my library’s tree-lighting event.
I pretty much knew what I wanted Rags to look like, even from the back, in the dark, with the light of the Christmas tree shining on the front of him so I didn’t really need a reference image. After 12 covers I know him pretty well! For the kitten I used the photo of another long-haired kitten I’d gotten to know earlier this, Samwise in a special photo of him and his brother Crayola looking up toward the bathroom window.
For the little girl I had a really blurry photo of my great niece Cassidy with my cats years ago, blurry enough that probably only I could really tell what it was but it was enough that I could work from it. I bypassed the bathrobe idea and just had pink pajamas, which had feet so I didn’t have to draw her feet. I completely fabricated the way the lighting fell on the figures.
As I worked with it I lightened the tree to make sure you could see the figures in front of it, but I had intended to leave out all the background items from the original photo, but the background looked odd without them. I think I was just so accustomed to seeing this photo, which I’d used for the library’s newsletters and other holiday activities numerous times, and if I’d set the illustration aside for a few days it would have been fine with nothing on the walls, but I left it there and it looks good as is.
So there’s another story for you to find for the holidays!
And as we had made a set of note cards from four other book covers, so Patricia decided to have 5″ x 7″ greeting cards printed of just the illustration to sell and use for herself this holiday.
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 and The Purrfect Lie.
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!
Earlier this year 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.
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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.
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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.
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Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
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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!