This is an oil pastel painting, “Warm Winter Sun”, oil pastel, 2000, 10″ x 8 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
About the painting, and Namir
Some of my cats have inspired several paintings, others in the planning stages, others, no paintings yet, sometimes it’s all up to how much time I have to work. But some of my cats have inspired more paintings than others, and Namir was one of them. Something about his demeanor and deportment, his confident self-possession, made every move seem like a performance and every rest seem like a carefully arranged pose. Although he was gray tabby and white, his profile and features showed he had much of an Oriental influence in his lineage, and these lithe and graceful cats tend to be very self-aware. I’ve also featured “Darling Clementine”, a similar theme to “Warm Winter Sun”, and I also have a number of pencil sketches of him and dozens of photos here.
Below is a detail of the most interesting area, Namir and the rocker with the brilliant winter sunlight reflected from the tile floor. I love reflected light, it’s a different color from direct light and helps to give a subject a shape, and can also pull just enough detail of an object from a light or dark area that you sense its presence but know it’s not part of the main image. The rocker is defined this way. But Namir is also reflecting light back onto the tile, both in the sunlight area and in the shadows around him from his areas of white fur on chest and shoulders which form all the little pools of light around him.
This painting is in oil pastel, and painted in 2000. I was curious about oil pastel through the years and though my first experiments looked like crayon drawings. I persisted and finally came to find some control in applying it to the paper and blending colors, and using textured paper. Where, with my regular pastels, I layer colors atop one another and blend them as necessary, drawing hard details on top, layering in oil pastel often involved scraping away some or all of a color I’d applied and adding another on top, and blending seemed to best be done by simply running another color repeatedly over top of another, then scraping away an area where a detail needs to appear.
Namir is in that blissful feline “don’t bother me while I’m in my sun puddle” state, which is exactly what I wanted to capture. In order to describe him, I show his reaction, the crouched resting pose, everything tucked in, face resting, ears lowered a bit; he is not asleep, and will not sleep in this position, but is actively enjoying his sun puddle in the way that cats do, just being in that moment with warm sun streaming over him. It’s something we should all practice.
But Namir wasn’t the only inspiration in this painting—in fact, what convinced me to paint it that particular morning was my colorful gardening books on the bottom shelf of the book case and their reflection on the floor as well. It’s full of brown earth tones which alone might be interesting but not exciting. Those bright flower colors are exciting, but still allow the subject attention, and together they make a nice composition.
I not only love reflected light, I love reflections whether they be on water or on a glossy surface, and these reflections look simple but are just as complicated as the ones around Namir.
This painting was technically a “daily sketch”, but I only got a start on it in that moment. It was a Sunday morning and I was full of rest and confidence, and felt I could jump into using oil pastels for a quick sketch, a bold move considering I really didn’t know much yet. I didn’t get too far into it, but took a photo—and that being the days of prints I had to wait for it to come back to finish the painting. But if the inspiration is there it stays with you, and I only needed to reference the photo for color in order to finish.
But one thing that marks this painting as being a part of my personal portfolio is the one thing that’s inspired me from the beginning with my cats—it’s a cat in the sun. The wonderful contrast of bright sun and shadow is inspiring no matter the subject or medium all through my art and photography, and as I’d said with my first set of color note cards printed from four of my cat paintings up to that point, “Bright sunshine on anything will inspire me, especially when it’s illuminating one of my cats.”
Oil pastels and chalk pastels
I frequently work in chalk pastel, especially for commissioned portraits, because of its versatility in application and range of colors from delicate to vibrant to deep. Chalk pastels are made from pure pigment in a binder ranging from fine clay to gum arabic or cellulose to form a shape to be held in hand to draw and are, as the term “chalk” would describe, a dry medium.
Oil pastels may have a similar name but that’s about the end of the similarity. A relatively new medium at less than 100 years old, the pigment is combined with a non-drying oil and wax which makes it more like a soft crayon, and that was exactly what it felt like when I first began to work with it years ago, a crayon! I put it aside, disliking the feel of it and my lack of control, but when I worked in an art supply store and frame shop, I framed an oil pastel drawing that absolutely fascinated me with how it had been applied with abandon, layered, and even had areas carved out of it nearly down to the paper to create visual and physical texture.
Where chalk pastel is blended like a powder, oil pastel is much more difficult to blend but may be done by drawing one color atop the other, using a burnishing tool or paper stomp or even using a solvent medium like linseed oil or turpentine, so I put all the techniques to use as I continued to use oil pastel.
This painting won the award for Best Pastel in the South Hills Art League’s 2000 Annual Juried Show, and I got the chance to talk about what inspired me to paint it. In brief, it was just a beautiful moment.
Shipping within the US is included in all the prices listed. All shipping is via Priority Mail. Prints are shipped flat in a rigid envelope. Canvases are shipped in a box to fit with padding. Since this original is small it is also shipped in a box with extra padding.
The giclees are printed on acid-free hot press art paper for a smooth matte finish using archival inks. Giclee is the highest quality print available because the technique uses a dozen or more ink ports to capture all the nuances of the original painting, including details of the texture, far more sensitive than any other printing medium. Sometimes my giclees look so much like my originals that even I have a difficult time telling them apart when they are in frames. The giclees have 2″ of white around the outside edges.
I don’t keep giclee prints in stock for most of my works. Usually I have giclees printed as they are ordered unless I have an exhibit where I’ll be selling a particular print so there is a wait of up to two weeks before receipt of your print to allow for time to print and ship.
Digital prints are made on acid-free matte-finish natural white 100# cover using archival digital inks. While digital prints are not the quality of a giclee in capturing every nuance and detail of color, texture and shading, I am still very pleased with the outcome and usually only I as the artist, could tell where detail and color were not as sharp as the original.
The 5″ x 7″ and 8″ x 10″ digital prints are centered on 8.5″ x 11″ digital cover while the 11″ x 14″ has 1″ around the edges because the digital paper is 12″ wide. All are countersigned by me.
I usually have at least one of the smaller sizes of canvases on hand, but order larger ones as they are ordered here because customers often want a custom size. Smaller canvases are a 3/4″ in depth, Canvases 12 x 16 and larger are 1-1/2″ in depth. I set them up so the image runs from edge to edge, then the sides are black or white or sometimes I slip in a color that coordinates with the painting. This canvas is black on the sides.
Mousepads are 8″ x 7″, always horizontal, 1/4″ black foam rubber with the image printed on a flexible fabric on top.