This is a little confusing for me because I’m skipping book number 20 in this series, and this is the cover for book number 21. I’m counting the cover painting I did as part of my “30 Paintings in 30 Days” painting, for day 18, so up we go with these two kitties and their mysteries. But I’ll try to get over doing things in order and tell you all about this cover illustration.
The setting is in the newly-opened bed and breakfast in book 20, which you haven’t seen yet, but this is inside so that’s okay. (See how confusing this can be?) It’s the grand opening and Rags at his handsome best is greeting guests at the door, sporting a bright red and white polka-dot bowtie. He’s accompanied by one of the cuddle cats who lives at the B & B. Patricia gave me several coat patterns to choose from and when I saw calico, and I know how Patricia likes her long-haired kitties, I knew I’d want to feature rescued calico Tiffany, whose story I tell below.
There’s also the matter of the broken antique vase, which just happens to have an old note that’s been sealed inside for decades, with a hand-drawn heart with a big black spider hugging it, and nothing else. So there’s the mystery. For the vase I used a photo I’d taken of one of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation’s urns and changed out the pattern and colors a bit. I drew the notepaper and the note in Photoshop. I always do what’s called a “high comp” for Patricia to review so that it contains all the details.
Unlike most other illustrations, this one has no background to it. I had added a wood floor, a carpet, stairs behind them, legs of people walking around, but this time everything seemed to detract from the two cats and the vase so we just kept the bright creamy background.
I actually created another view of the scene to include more cats, and chose to show them from above approaching the broken vase. I liked it a lot for the composition but it did not work for the book cover, but I’ve included it here so you can see Bert and Ernie and Lakota, and Bella standing in for Rags because she was in the right position. I love views from above. This is pretty much what one of my “high comps” looks like too.
She was left behind when her person died and shared in email (back in the day), as an adult cat, kind of shy. I sent the email along and my friend Judi offered to take her in and either foster or adopt her, went to get her and found she was more than shy—she was rather unsocialized and really couldn’t be handled. Though Judi tried everything to help make her feel more comfortable and integrate her, she remained distant for the most part, and in Judi’s office for her litterbox habits, which was likely how she had lived in the home she had come from. She lived that way for several years but developed renal failure, and because trips to the vet and doses of fluids required handling which she did not permit, Judi watched closely for her quality of life and had her quietly put to sleep in the office where she’d lived.
About 30 Paintings in 30 Days
For a list of my other paintings in the 30 in 30 challenge visit this page.
About the illustration materials
I don’t use paper for most of these illustrations but chose Ampersand brand Pastelbord, which is a piece of Masonite with a very fine clay and marble-dust coating that has very little texture but holds layers of pastel so I can both do my finger-painting thing with blending softer pastels and sketch with harder pastels and pastel pencils, and it stand up well to multiple changes. I began the painting with soft pastels to cover the major areas with layers of color. I finished up the details and edges with pastel pencils.
But once I began working out the covers with all this Victorian detail like PAWSitively Sinister, I needed a little assistance in keeping the details in order so it didn’t take me until next year to do the painting. I used a self-prepared paper with a very fine surface texture and not entirely opaque so I could put it on my light table and trace the details in place and even draw on the light table with pastel pencils. These illustrations are 8″ x 10″ and the books are 5″ x 8″. Because the illustration is reduced in size it’s easy to lose details so I can’t go too big, and especially when working with patterns it’s important nothing is out of place or it’s immediately noticeable. Getting all the details just right on an illustration like this interior with cats can be tricky when it’s this small. The risk with this paper is that the surface is delicate and actually drawing too hard will remove the roughened texture and I’ll have a hole in my drawing! But it’s great fun to take my Photoshop composite and turn it into a painting.
About these book covers
I’ve illustrated a total of 19 covers for Patricia. You can see them below, but unfortunately you can’t click on the images to go to the article and read more about them. Use these links instead: Catnapped, Cat-Eye Witness, Sleight of Paw, Undercover Cat, The Colony Cat Caper, The Corral Cat Caper, Gallery Cat Caper, Mansion of Meows, Celebrity Cat Caper, Pawtners in Crime, Pawsitively Sinister, The Purrfect Lie, A Picture Purrfect Christmas, Meow for the Money, Claws for a Cause, Cabin FURvor, A MEOWvelous Witness, Cats in Cahoots and The Amazimg CATventure.
All books are available in electronic format and most for print on Amazon.com as well as find the print versions on Patricia’s website. Reviews have been good, and a few reviewers have even mentioned the covers! I hope you enjoy these books, and Patricia and I are currently working on the next cover. That woman can write!
When we finished book 12 we also updated the two-sided bookmark that includes all twelve books so far which Patricia can hand out at book signings and book shows.
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Read more about book covers I’ve designed. Also, click here to read more about the Purrs of Wisdom cover and bookmarks, and also about books I’ve designed on my blog, What’s New?
Are you interested in illustrations or a book cover, or book design? Please contact me, I’ll be happy to discuss your project.
Each week on Wednesday I feature a piece of artwork, sometimes a current or historic portrait, sometimes an illustration or an art project from years ago, usually cat-themed, but sometimes wildlife or even non-animal subjects, and even projects from my commercial art life. Read other Featured Artwork posts.
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