We don’t buy gifts with only a holiday theme, we buy gifts we think the recipient will like all year round. And as winter approaches it’s nice to think about spring and summer following. I’m really happy to introduce these two garden flag designs. And don’t forget, all this weekend through “Giving Tuesday” use the code BLACKCATFRIDAY in Portraits of Animals on Etsy for 25% off your entire order.
These will unfortunately be the last two garden flags I introduce for a while. I have more on that subject after the descriptions of these two pretty flags.
Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things
Each flag has a design on both sides, in this case it’s the same on both sides, but mirrored. This art is the only one in my set of garden flags that is not a sketch or painting, but a photograph–and a very favorite photograph called “Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things”, taken in 2005.
You can find this flag in my Etsy shop, and read more about the image, below.
Sophie could use any prop to dramatic effect, and the lace curtains were her favorite. Of course, you can’t see her. But if you look closely you might see a cat’s face through the lace that might have Sophie’s big green eyes with heavy eye-liner, and her tabby babushka and outlined nose.
I took a number of other photographs the same day I took “Sophie Keeps and Eye on Things”, all with the lace curtain filled with early evening sun. I was preparing to leave the house on my bike and had my original little 2MP digital camera, and because Sophie always fussed when I was leaving she got extra attention, inside and out. Never sorry for spending that time!
In the evenings I closed my curtains before I left. Sophie always watched me leave the house and she took the opportunity to play around with the curtains—often I had to inspect the lace to see her white fur through the mesh, or she dramatically appeared from between the panels, around the edge or underneath, but she was always there with her big round eyes.
On this day, in the late afternoon, the warm spring sun angled into the window imparting a creamy tone to the lace, and the forget-me-nots I’d planted in pots in the windowbox were in full flower. Before I left I closed the curtains because I’d be gone after dark, and Sophie began her little game while I was still indoors, so I stopped and captured a few images of her silhouetted and peering through the curtain at me.
Then I finally went out the door and, as I always did, stopped to look back at both my front windows and the door to see which kitties were bidding me farewell, or sending me on a guilt trip, depending on their attitude. I don’t remember who was at the other window or the door, but Sophie managed to find an open spot to peer through the lace at me in several different ways. I had my bike and my hands full of things, and only my little 2MP digital with no zoom, and wished I had my Pentax film camera at least, knowing the shot would be difficult with the tiny digital. I considered stepping back in to get the film camera, but knew she’d move and I’d never see this particular shot again. So I put everything down, kicked out the kickstand on my bike, pulled the digital out of its little wallet, pointed and clicked, several times, and hoped for the best. And I got it.
I lost Sophie at the end of 2006 and hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about her. Her rescue story is also one of the funniest of all my rescue stories, so take time to read “The Housewarming Cat”.
So in photographing your cats, let that be a lesson to you! Do your best with what you have, and don’t hesitate, just take the photo. If you don’t capture the shot you wanted you may get something else entirely, and you may come up with something fantastic.
Mimi in the Garden
Each flag has a design on both sides, in this case it’s the same on both sides, but mirrored. This art is “Garden Sketch With Mimi”, originally 5″ wide x 7″ high on 90 lb. watercolor paper signed and dated 6/27/13.
This was not what I’d intended but I like it anyway. It’s Mimi napping in the shadow on the cool bricks among the geraniums, near the vintage aluminum tub where I grow pole beans. Mimi was so happy to be outside she only rested in each position for less than a minute, and the sun was in and out behind the clouds. The temperature was in the 90s and we weren’t doing much but looking for a comfortable spot.
I had wanted something a little tighter in detail, but I like the details this one has. I did a light pencil sketch underneath because it’s so small I knew I’d run out of space if I didn’t give myself some guidance about Mimi, the geraniums and the barrel, but aside from that I just painted.
In part I was using the quick and easy eight-color grade-school set that’s easy to carry and use I really need to get a set with a greater color range if I’m going to paint outdoors.
But what was my purpose with this painting? Sometimes I sit down to capture the details of the moment, and some day I’d like to do just that with the reference photos from this, but with my actual sketch, and all my daily sketches, my purpose is just to capture the essence of the moment and share what moved me to render the scene. In this case it was a relaxed Mimi in the shade on a hot morning, stretched on those familiar bricks next to the cool anodized aluminum tub where I’ve always planted pole beans and surrounded by my geraniums saved from year to year. It was a scene I loved for my love of my garden, my appreciation of Mimi relaxing in a place she’d once hunted for food to feed her kittens, and the memory of the generations of cats before her who enjoyed that very spot, this little patio and the verdance of my garden.
You can find “Mimi in the Garden” garden flag in my Etsy shop.
About the flags
I love this product, and I’ve enjoyed developing and designing it, combining my skills as a commercial artist, print buyer and fine artist. They are printed on a special paper stock which one of my regular printers had introduced to me several years ago and I knew as soon as I saw it that I could finally have the garden flags I’d been envisioning imprinted with my artwork. I had proofs made, sewed pockets in the top, and off I went.
Below I describe how I designed them, tested them and finish them. Each flag takes a number of steps to produce, and that can add complications to any product, but last year I introduced a dozen different designs, then added holiday designs. They sold well so I continued developing new designs and planned reprints.
Though all initial designs are sketches or paintings in knew I wanted to use “Sophie Keeps an Eye on Things” as my April featured artwork and desktop calendar, and also thought it would make a beautiful garden flag. I designed it and ordered it as I had ordered the others the previous year, but March went by, then April, the printer hadn’t seen my order, then hadn’t had a chance to get to it, I knew they had been bought by a new owner and were busy with new things, and so I waited. It would still be pretty no matter when it was done. In May I knew I wanted to use “Garden Sketch With Mimi” as my featured artwork and desktop calendar, and designed and ordered that flag with the promise of proofs very soon.
But by June I hadn’t received anything, and had run out of other popular flags. I asked two other printers I work with if they’d like to try the paper stock. One did try it and agreed to print these flags for me on a regular basis if I bought the paper. No problem, it would be a little more expensive than before, but I could still manage that. I finally got these flags in August, but decided to wait to introduce them because the holiday season would be starting soon, and I was ordering “Star of Wonder” holiday garden flags in September. The “Star of Wonder” flags were ultimately printed incorrectly, twice, and I had to buy more paper. By the time I bought the paper, it arrived, and the flags were printed we were into November; I shipped off the first few orders and a customer who had very patiently waited through it all sent me photos showing the flags were not waterproof on both sides as they had been. The manufacturer had reformulated their paper and the slightly different toner in the new printer’s machine meant I had to spray each flag with waterproofing spray. I went back to the flags I’d had printed in the summer and tested for colorfastness. Not. I was lucky to have a nice warm November day to spray all the flags with silicone outdoor waterproofing, but decided that, with this new complication, my costs were nearly my selling price and the process was just too complicated. I didn’t want to increase the price, nor did I want the hassles I’d met with producing them. One of my other ideas had been to offer custom garden flags for home and business as well as my original designs, so I’m looking into other options and hope to have a replacement product soon.
I guess you might say at this point that these are “Limited Edition”!
At left Mimi models her favorite design, I presume, since this was when she chose to saunter over and rub herself on the bracket even though she is featured in three other designs. Mimi is not included with your order, I need her here to model for more art, supervise their design, and especially act as art director for our back yard photo shoots.
These are digitally printed on a product called digital satin, a woven product intended for outdoor as well as indoor use. It’s heavier than the nylon most other flags are made of, but if I’m judging by the the survival of the ones I have outdoors now this is tough and durable material, no fading, scratches in the finish, fraying or wrinkling of the flag in any way. I’m sure, like any other product, if the flag is in direct sun for more than four hours per day it will eventually fade, but the testing worked better than I’d thought. You can read about the development of these flags as well as backyard testing and a photo shoot with Mimi and me in Backyard Product Development and Testing With My Assistant, Mimi.
The flags are printed flat and, after an inspection by either Mr. Sunshine, my engineer cat as shown below, or Mewsette as seen here, I fold over an stitch the pocket on each. They are then inspected by one or more felines prior to packaging.
I ship the garden flags flat at this point—the fabric holds a curl really well and some flags I had stored never wanted to completely flatten out. Flags are 11” wide x 15” tall and fit the most common garden flag bracket available, seen here and sold in most hardware and home renovation stores with a garden area. You can order on through me, but with their weight and size it adds to the shipping cost.
I have eleven garden flag designs now with three holiday designs now available in my Etsy shop, each one a completely different style and theme to suit any garden—fine art, Impressionist, Warhol-esque and “after van Gogh”, black cats, pink cats, tabby cats and calico cats, and of course, those tortie girls! Three are holiday designs, but the rest are summer and colorful.
These eight summery flags actually feature twelve images. All are two-sided, and most have two different designs so you can turn them around and show something different, or you can put them along a walk and see both sides as you move in each direction. I began with the most popular and requested images, and from those chose and ones that fit well on the shape of the flag while the image was still easily recognizable from a distance. Colors can be a little unpredictable with digital printing, and this digital fabric is a new product, but the colors and detail are astonishing.
The designs below are currently available in my Etsy shop—click the image to go to the product on Etsy, or scroll down for links to the images to read more about the original sketches here on The Creative Cat.
Following is a list of links to the daily sketch or painting:
Below, just my favorite photo of my first proofs in my yard! Of course, I’ve moved them around, but this is what I was envisioning last year when I first had the idea to create these.
Mewsette may look like she’s sleeping, but she is ready to get up and give instructions or even a helping paw at any moment.
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.
I designate four portrait certificates each year for donation to benefit animals, and also donate merchandise, prints of artwork and even originals to rescue and shelter benefits. If you are interested in a donation for your event, please email me with the details of your event and your organization.
It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!
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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 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.
© 2014 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | 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: Bok 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!