Yes, this portrait is from nearly 20 years ago! I can hardly believe it was that long ago, and I was so new to all this…And I was so happy to look up Trumpet and Jasper’s mom all these years later when I published my first Great Rescues book in 2011.
Jasper’s mom had grown up with a love of animals but had never had a pet of her own. When she moved to a pet-friendly apartment her secretary suggested she adopt a cat, advising that cats were low-maintenance. She visited the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society because in those days “that was where you went to get cats”, finding the tabby kitten with white paws.
Jasper, though a barn cat had apparently learned some manners and was “the perfect cat”, so perfect that two years later she decided to adopt another cat and give Jasper a companion. The little kitten she would name Trumpet, simply found on a roadside with his brother, was so affectionate, pure white with his little paws on the rim of the cage, and she found him irresistible. Jasper did not, but the three lived in harmony, both cats adoring their mom and being adored in return.
This is Trumpet and Jasper’s story in Great Rescues.
Trumpet and Jasper were but the first two cats this woman rescued. Volunteering for years at a shelter in Pittsburgh and living near a high-kill shelter in the next county, she has continued to rescue cats and foster and adopt from shelters, also adopting a few rescued Pomeranians. When I visited her there were beautiful cats everywhere, friendly and curious, leaving face rubs on my bags to take back to my cats, and stories of miraculous recoveries of ones brought in from the street; read Irina and Isis, Saved From the Flood.
This was one of the first portraits I painted when I was still using the paper color as the background of the portrait, a style I learned to dislike for various reasons. My pastels at the time didn’t always cover the paper as I had expected and I couldn’t layer the pastel as I do today, adding one color atop another and blending as needed with my fingers, then adding the final detail layer, that technique I’d developed that built dimension. Also because I couldn’t layer the pastel it would dust off the subject onto the paper and needed to be repeatedly removed with a kneaded eraser or the paper just looked sloppy or dirty depending on the color and I lost the details I’d been working. Initially I began covering the background, then later discovered the more textured papers.
Knowing what I know now I am shocked I managed to get the soulful details in Jasper’s eyes and the detail and shadowing in Trumpet’s fur. This was in the days of 3.5″ x 5″ prints, so grasping the details could be tricky, though her photos were good. Jasper reminded me so much of my Stanley and I used Stanley’s facial details, especially those eyes, for reference. It was especially important to get that one white mitten of a paw out in front while the other was folded in underneath, again using Stanley’s white mittens as a guide.
And of course I had my Sally to use as a guide for Trumpet’s white fur, even though she was long-haired and Trumpet short-haired. Still, the shadowing in the fur, the pink nose and ears and pea-green eyes, I was so glad they were willing models.
The two boys always slept on the braided rug shown in the portrait, but she didn’t have any images of them actually on it. I asked her to just give me a picture of it and I’d figure it out. The rug is fine, but I really don’t like the fuzzy sort of shading I did around it, just to keep them from looking as if they were floating in space, which is how it looked with just the oval rug. But no one but me seems to notice that.
Trump and Jasper had passed when I did this portrait, but it was fairly recent, and when I showed her the finished portrait she burst into tears. That was the first time that had happened as well, but I understood completely; their similarities with Stanley and Sally made me think of their mortality as well. But I guessed the portrait was fairly accurate for that kind of a reaction. All these years and all these cats later, she still gets misty talking about Trumpet and Jasper.
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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 purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.