Friday, April 19, 2024
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Holiday Cards: Greetings From Our Backyard Birds

"Jammin' Jay Blues", pastel, 6" x 8" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
“Jammin’ Jay Blues”, pastel, 6″ x 8″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“That would make a great card!”

That’s usually how I decide which of my paintings or photos will end up as a greeting card or note card, following the advice of someone’s suggestion.

When it comes to my birds, many of the paintings and photos are from winter, when the birds are simply easier to see, but also one of my favorite seasons for painting and photography. Last year I decided to make up two sets of cards for the holidays—and possibly beyond—from the paintings and photos that received the most comments. Knowing that many of my readers are also avian fans and feeders, I’m sharing them here today.

Backyard Birds

I truly love winter paintings because the light is wonderful without the shadows from trees, the reflections from the snow illuminating shadowed areas with soft purples and blues, and the patterns made by bare branches are mesmerizing. This set of four paintings of birds are ones I’d done “from life”, actually standing at a window inside or at my back door rather than literally en plein air, but I wanted to catch that moment of light and color.

As you browse below, the title of each painting and the image of each painting will take you to a post for prints of the painting itself. Click here or where it mentions “cards” to visit the listing for the set of cards.

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Jammin’ Jay Blues

Above is “Jammin’ Jay Blues”, my impression of a bunch of noisy blue jays making a racket in the bare branches of the mulberry. In the winter light, their blue feathers have an extra glow that I don’t notice in summer, and between the color and the sound they occasionally fill my backyard with what feels like a celebratory parade, when all they are celebrating is the sliced apples I’ve stuck on twigs in the tree.

Prints of this sketch

I offer a variety of prints of this sketch in my Etsy shop.

. . . . . . .

Snow Bird

Below is “Snow Bird”, a play on the common name for a dark-eyed junco, as it clings to along branch of the forsythia in heavy snowfall, apparently living up to its name. They appear in my backyard each year in October and stay until April, and I love their simple little silhouettes, tiny rounded bodies, short beaks and tails, and that white spot on their bellies that looks as if they’d been dipped in white paint before they left the factory.

"Snow Bird", pastel, 6" x 8"
“Snow Bird”, pastel, 6″ x 8″

Prints of this sketch

I offer a variety of prints of this sketch in my Etsy shop.

. . . . . . .

Birds in Snow

This is “Birds in Snow”, inspired by the sparrows and doves that feed on the ground under the feeder outside my front door. To one side of the feeder is a huge spruce, providing cover and safety for many, many birds, and watching them twittering on the branches, then dropping down for seeds one by one and pecking around in the snow in a big crowd, then suddenly all of them flapping back up into the spruce as if signaled by something only to begin the process again is like watching waves on the beach.

Birds in Snow
Birds in Snow

Prints of this sketch

The full version of this sketch is actually taller with more “snow” above the birds, shown below. When I designed the cards I used only the area with the birds, but for the prints I use the entire sketch. I offer a variety of prints of this sketch in my Etsy shop.

"Birds in Snow", 9 x 12 pastel sketch.
“Birds in Snow”, 9 x 12 pastel sketch.

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And here is “Accent”, a single cardinal in the branches and brambles touched with snow at the end of the yard. This is the “safe spot” for birds and small animals as I’ve let the wild grapevines, raspberries and blackberries and Roses of Sharon grow into a dense tangled mass which is excellent protection from predators and I place a seed feeder and suet feeder into the mess each autumn. A heavy snowfall which layers each branch with white and the play of light and shadow in the mass of branches creates one of nature’s most lovely patterns. Where most of my drawing surfaces have some texture, for this one I added marble dust and grit and gave the surface a rough brushed appearance which turned out to be perfect for capturing the feeling of branches and snow.

"Accent", pastel, 5" x 10"
“Accent”, pastel, 5″ x 10″

Prints of this sketch

I offer a variety of prints of this sketch in my Etsy shop.

. . . . . . .
About the cards

Inside, all cards say, “Wishing you warm thoughts and happy memories in this holiday season, and an astonishingly beautiful new year to come.” They are sold by the dozen, three cards of each design, with white envelopes. While I’m offering these cards for the holidays, they are wonderful all-purpose greeting cards as well and I’ll keep them available through spring in my Etsy shop. Click here to browse the listing for greeting cards.


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Cardinals Brighten Up a Snowy Day

Of all the birds that visit my backyard, the male Northern Cardinal is the showiest, and my photos of these have had the most comments—especially, “That would make a great Christmas card!” One of these days I’ll get a few of the girls in the snow—though they aren’t as showy they are still colorful and very dignified, but don’t position themselves in the same way as the guys. So, here we are, a set of cards designed with a little red and green flair that makes it look like a Christmas card as well. Inside they all say, “May your holiday season be merry and bright!”

I think this guy was posing because he sat there for the longest time in the same position. Okay, I get it, I’ll take your picture!

photo of cardinal in forsythia
Cardinal in Forsythia, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

I had wanted a photo that had a significant amount of green along with the red of the cardinal and the snow, and this cardinal obliged.

photo of cardinal in snow
Cardinal in Yew, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Just the cardinal’s red color against an overcast sky and very little else.

photo of cardinal on branch
Cardinal on a Branch, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Five male cardinals were flitting all over the yard during the snowfall. I only managed to catch three in one shot, but it was a favorite.

photo of cardinals in snow bush
Three Cardinals, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Since I added the red and green decorations, these are pretty much limited to the holiday season.

You can find all of these in my Etsy shop.

Read other articles in “Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat” .


marker sketch of black cat watching birds at feeder
“Mimi Morning Birdwatching”, brush markers, 8″ x 6.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Mimi watches the birds, I sketch the birds, and I sketch Mimi!

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”, whether that’s here on The Creative Cat, in my Etsy shop, on my main website or even at one of the bricks and mortar shops that carry my work.

Read about creating custom items

Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.

Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.

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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.

© 2015 | | 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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