Thursday, February 22, 2024
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The Artists’s Life: A Day in the Studio, With Cats

five cats in studio
The Curious Quartet joins Cookie in getting ready for a day of work.

My Sunday in the studio ran overtime yesterday just because I was in the mood and didn’t want to stop—and had such feline assistance and inspiration I may have gone all night but for the need for feline dinners. Cats in my studio are both an asset and a liability, but especially now that I’ve finally committed my 8′ x 10′ spare bedroom for art activities we can all find a comfortable place in the drama.

tortie cat on table
Cookie chooses the spot where she is sure to get the most attention.

My cats like to join in anything I do even if it’s laundry or cleaning the bathroom—they just enjoy activity, especially when I’m putting on the show. But more than that, being the sensitive creatures they are and reacting to my joys and sorrows, they are just as aware of my state of being and love being near me when I’m at my creative work.

Just looking at my cats has long been an inspiration even before I began drawing them, or anything at all for that matter. Fluid motion, graceful shapes, that particular self-possession which enables me to observe without interacting all feed my aesthetic senses, and add to this the interactions of a household of cats with each other, with the space and with me, and it’s a feast for my senses. For years I’ve begun each day with a photo session and a sketch or two as a warm-up to a day of graphic design, awakening my senses to shapes and colors and composition, this inspired by watching my cats and eventually including activities in the garden. Through the day they continue to be their graceful little selves and so I continue photographing them and enjoying the visual and physical breaks they give me during the day.

black cat by easel
“You can see I’m starving.” Can it be their dinner time already?

When I spend time or a whole day in more traditional artwork, still watching their movements, highlights and shadows in their fur, the way the light falls in their eyes, enhances my work even if my subject is not a cat or an animal at all; just taking those cues from the natural world enriches my work and gives it dimension regardless of medium or style. And if I am working on a cat, or even a dog or other animal, I’ve always told my customers for commissioned portraits that my cats are always my models when I’m working on portraits, even if the animals I’m painting looks nothing like them, just observing them in life fills in where even the best photo doesn’t give me enough information.

Those are the assets, but having cats walking around my studio has its own set of issues while interacting with my stuff, such as walking on my artwork, drinking my painting water, knocking expensive pastels on the floor, getting into the cabinets, dropping cat hairs onto a mat while I’m framing, and dangers, such as lots of sharp instruments, glass in picture frames, perilously-stacked items while I’m preparing my work space or sorting materials, and while I keep toxins outside, even non-toxic items can be a danger to an animal that experiences its world by smelling and tasting. If I really need to, I can now close the door when I leave the room or while I’m working, though you can imagine that doesn’t go over too well!

cat sleeping on table
Now there’s a real work of art.

But a session in the studio is like a session in the kitchen or anywhere else in the house I set up to work for a while, and the beginning involves giving my curious household the time to walk around in the space and investigate any new materials I’ve introduced until they are satisfied with whatever they need to know, and then they’ll settle back for supervision or naps and leave me to my work. Of course, stealing my warm and comfortable chair whenever I get up is perfectly legitimate!

Here’s a slideshow of our day.


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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9 thoughts on “The Artists’s Life: A Day in the Studio, With Cats

  • Pingback: The Creative Cat - Daily Photo Reprise: Something Familiar About That Black Cat on the Stool…2011

  • Hi,

    Gorgeous cats! It’s been awhile since I was here but I’m really glad to back. I could really see how close you are to your lovely cats. They really inspire you throughout your creative life. My gorgeous cat Lyra, is also one of my inspirations in writing my children’s book.

    “Skat the Christmas Cat” is now available in e-book format on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s a story about a homeless cat who finds an unlikely way into someone’s heart and home. I have created a contest to promote my book, by giving away a free Kindle Fire!

    I’ll be really glad if you will check for more details about the contest.

    Participate and have fun!

    • Fawn, I do remember seeing you before, and congratulations on your book! Do you have information other than the video? which is really cute, by the way! I’d just love to read about the writing and illustrations. Good luck!

  • What great cats. I have 4 and they want to be as much a part of my life as they possibly can, also. Each one has his/her own personality.

    • Marlene, even though the black ones all look alike and everyone thinks the tortoiseshell girls are sisters, they are all very, very different. It’s so much fun.

  • Gorgeous fur babies – I have to compete with 2 for my chair too, but at least apart from sleeping on it, they leave my knitting alone :^)

    • How fun–you garden and cook and have cats and knit! I crochet, and I practically have to wait until they’re asleep to get anything done.

    • Yes, that is Cookie, who has supervised 19 years of my creative life!


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