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Welcome “Spring” With a Unique Commission

pastel portrait of cat looking out window
“Spring”, pastel, 12″ x 24″, 1997 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Years ago a patron of a gallery in Carnegie where I hung my artwork asked me to paint four images for a very special frame she had.

It had been designed and handmade in wood by her father-in-law, long and narrow, and had four openings, each 12″ high by 24″ wide. Each opening had its own piece of glass, and between each opening was a 1/2″ slat of wood as a divider. The outside border of the frame was 2″ wide and flat with hand carved figures which I believe were leaves, like a vine. Overall it had a warm and rustic appearance.

The frame came apart in the center so that there were two panels in each half, and art and glass slid in and out through this opening. The area for the artwork was barely deep enough for a piece of drawing paper, so he must have intended it for photos when he designed it. The frame locked together in the back so that the two halves held together and hung on the wall without sagging.

pastel painting of white cat bathing by window
A Warm Bath, pastel, 12″ x 10″, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

She was interested in pastel drawings on paper, which were a good choice for this since even flat painting panels would not have fit.

As soon as she described the frame to me I thought of painting the four seasons, in part because of the four sections of the frame, and it’s also a theme I enjoy here in Western Pennsylvania. The customer would enjoy it too, because I’d been to her house and large picture windows were placed to enjoy the landscape from all angles, and the view of the countryside was something she always mentioned.

So I collected reference photos from my rambles for each of the seasons, thinking purely of landscapes. But she loved white cats and had actually purchased my painting “A Warm Bath” featuring my Angora cat Sally in a bath in morning sun at my side window, and asked me to add a white cat in somewhere since she’d given that painting as a gift.

I really considered the best way to show this. The scenes of the landscapes were typical of landscape paintings, showing the middle and far distance, where a cat would be hard to spot. But I remembered one of her picture windows and a countertop that extended partway in front of it and decided what I’d do.


I had taken several reference photos of Sally having a good bath in front of that window for “A Warm Bath”, and chose the pose I actually painted because you could still see Sally’s face, though she was looking down. Photographing a cat in the process of a bath, white or black or striped or spotted, was no easier then than it is now except that I didn’t know what I hadn’t caught until I had the photos developed. Most of the photos were when Sally had her back turned, but in this case, in the more upright posture, she appeared to be looking out the window, also typical of her and other cats positioned on such a shelf in front of a picture window. The cat looking out the window in the first painting would also lend the idea that you were looking out the window at all the landscapes.

To add to the interior I decided to use another detail that may look familiar to some regular readers of The Creative Cat, the draped lace curtain from the window on the second floor landing of my house. It’s quite clear in several of the photos I posted this past Sunday from 1994 as well as many photos of cats today, literally. In part I chose it for its own pattern and the natural appearance of a lace curtain next to a window, and also to balance the detail and pattern in the landscape outside the window.

I was glad to draw Sally’s dreamy white fur again as well as the sun and shadow on the wall inside the window, and looked forward to the lace curtain because I’d not painted one before and had been looking for a reason to add one to a painting, determining how much detail I’d actually include and how I’d do it in pastel.

"Spring" detail of cat and curtain.
“Spring” detail of cat and curtain; sorry for the poor resolution if you are seeing this 1000 pixels wide.

I apologize for the slight blur in the photos of this painting; it’s as clear and sharp as other finely detailed paintings I’ve done, and while I’ve been able to rephotograph older works by visiting the customer, because of the nature of this frame and the difficulty in handling it, we haven’t been able to do so yet. But reference “A Warm Bath”, above, for the style and level of detail.

For the landscape itself I remembered the layout of her yard and acreage, and collected some of my favorite photos of spring blooming gardens; in the end I toned down the rhododendrons and daffodils. But skies are one of my favorite daily studies, no matter the season; I could watch skies forever, the clouds moving, the changing light. Choosing the right moment of sky to paint into a landscape is a very serious choice for me, as you’ll see in looking at all four paintings in this series. In this painting of spring I chose a misty moment in early morning, it’s rained overnight, all is covered with raindrops and the mist is still rising, the clouds parting.

Here are thumbnails of the other three seasons in order, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “Winter”. If you let your eye run from one to the next you’ll notice that the horizon line is consistent from one to the next, and the time of day is actually progressive with “Spring” being very early morning, “Summer” about noon, “Autumn” mid afternoon, and “Winter” at sunset. I had first considered actually having the seasons and times of day blend into one another, but decided the frame really wouldn’t accommodate that convincingly, instead letting the viewer’s eye fill in the connections. One of these days she and I will get together so I can take good updated photographs of all four seasons.

pastel painting of summer landscape
“Summer”, pastel, 12″ x 24″, 1997 © B.E. Kazmarski
pastel painting of autumn landscape
“Autumn”, pastel, 12″ x 24″, 1997 © B.E. Kazmarski
pastel painting of winter landscape
“Winter”, pastel, 12″ x 24″, 1997 © B.E. Kazmarski

While “Spring” is based on the customer’s property, “Summer” is an abandoned farm field right after a storm which I passed regularly, “Autumn” is a hay field with a rambling little stream and scrubby trees as autumn rain clouds roll in which I saw along a road, and “Winter” is a friend’s family farm in winter.

This woman is also the one I’d painted the two portraits of the borzois, and while I have the one original of the one on the left and have taken a good clear photograph of it, I’d love to get the details of the other one as well.

pastel portrait of two borzois
“Borzois”, pastel, 20″ x 26″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
portrait of two borzois
“Traveler and Emma”, pastel, 12″ x 21″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski


Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Read articles here on The Creative Cat featuring current and past commissioned portraits.

Read about how I create commissioned portraits.

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat on wicker chair
Samantha, pastel, 1994 © B.E. Kazmarski
Commissioned Dog Portraits

portrait of two dogs
Sophie and Ellie, pastel, 2009 © B.E. Kazmarski
Portraits of
My Cats

pastel painting of cat on table
After Dinner Nap, pastel, 1996 © B.E. Kazmarski

Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

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My Portraits Brochure

My brochure is an 8.5″ x 11″ two-page full-color PDF that half-folds when it’s all printed out, showing examples of portraits with an explanation of my process and basic costs.


Purchase a Gift Certificate

sample portrait certificate
Sample Commissioned Portrait Certificate

I offer gift certificates for portraits in any denomination beginning at $125.00, which is the basic cost of a portrait; the recipient is responsible for any amount the portrait costs over $125.00.

The certificate itself is 8.5″ x 11″ and features a collage of portrait images with the recipient’s and giver’s names, printed on parchment cover stock. The whole thing is packaged in a pocket folder and includes a brochure, a letter from me to the recipient and several business cards.The certificate package can be easily mailed or wrapped as a gift and shipped directly to your recipient.

I can also make it downloadable if you’re in a hurry.

Portrait certificates are a minimum of $125.00 because that is the minimum cost of a portrait.

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Featured Artwork

If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and at assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, each week I feature a piece of artwork on Wednesday and a new product on Thursday. Choose the category for featured artwork.

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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.

© 2014 | | 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.

5 thoughts on “Welcome “Spring” With a Unique Commission

  • B:

    blurry fuzzy or pixel crazy….this is 100000000000000000 times better than I could hope to do….LOVE this piece


    • Laura, there were a few things I didn’t like about the way it turned out, but I love remembering my Sally in it.

  • bluemoonalone

    How I envy your talent Bernadette..

    • Bluemoonalone, I am nearly in tears sometimes, I worked so hard to be able to paint like this and I really did get there.

      • bluemoonalone

        You surely did..I admire all that you do..


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