Non-fiction, fiction, art and photography.
This is one gallery I only have a few selections to add right now, but this is my year to start filling up the page.
New format, same great kitties! If you’re familiar with Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book, this book carries on the idea in a way that’s much more permanent. This book is not dated for one year, but has all the dates in a month for you to fill in the birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and social and personal events in your life.
In 2011 I published Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book, a 16-month desk calendar that included a commissioned portrait of a rescued cat or cats for each month, plus more about the portraits, cats and rescuers in the back and information on cat care. But calendars go out of date and I knew these stories had to go on.
Great Rescues Day Book carries on the original idea in a way that’s much more permanent. This book is not dated for one year, but has all the dates in a month for you to fill in the birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and social and personal events in your life.
Great Rescues Day Book is spiral-bound and measures 8″ x 10″ to easily fit on your desk or in a purse, briefcase or backpack. While the original Great Rescues had a die-cut cover with the title stamped in gold foil, this has a solid 12 pt. printed cover for durability.
You can buy a book here, or read on. Price includes shipping.
What’s a Day Book?
I’ve used a day book for over 20 years and have all the arrivals and, sadly, departures of each of my cats along with my friends’ weddings, my nieces’ births and the births of their children, the day I first registered a business name, all that sort of stuff, conveniently included in one place.
On the left is the featured portrait with the kitty’s story, below that the monthly fun quote of something feline. On the right is the month name with enough lines for all possible dates in that month. The holidays that are celebrated on a certain date are marked on that date, but ones that float, especially those Monday holidays, are explained at the bottom just to remind you that they also happen in that month. If animal-themed holidays are celebrated on a certain date, like Spay Day USA, they will also be included, but just the same if they are ones that float like Pet Memorial Sunday they will be explained at the bottom.
About the portraits
The portraits in this book, collected as a series, won both a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Annual Communication Contest, as well as the 22 Cats Notepaper mentioned below.
Although Great Rescues Day Book is a 12-month book I am still featuring from the original calendar all 15 portraits of rescued cats I was commissioned to paint over 20 years as an animal portrait artist (to that date), plus the portrait of my own which I consider my first, “Waiting for Mom”, below.
That means you get a few pages in the center where you have only portraits and stories to enjoy.
While the portraits are lovely and I’m proud of my body of work, the stories of these cats, and the people who rescued them, is what compels me to share them with you. Each of the stories tells of cats from shelters and cats abandoned and saved, cats found inside car engines and cats reluctantly surrendered by people who could no longer care for them, but each one has a happy ending as a cherished companion in a loving home.
And while each cat has an individual story, each rescuer has a story as well of reaching out to an animal in need to bring it in from the streets. In many cases they helped heal physical and emotional wounds and gave that cat a lifetime of love, in return receiving love and devotion; often those humans received some healing in return they weren’t aware they needed.
The story continues
After the calendar pages I have a section where the stories are continued, either with more details or updates; I remained friends with all my portrait customers and received continuing news. I also have notes on how I created the portraits that weren’t included in the stories.
Resources for cat guardians
Following the calendar section and section of stories of the rescuers and their feline families I’ve included a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings. I based this information on the most frequent questions I field from people needing help with cats in any way, from finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.
Each book includes 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.
Each month on The Creative Cat I post the featured portrait, story and pages from Great Rescues Day Book and then describe the creation of the portrait in detail as well as even more history of the cats and the rescuers. You can browse here to read a few of the stories.
Here are images of the other portraits in the book—perhaps you’ll recognize a kitty you know!
Purchase Great Rescues Day Book
Price includes shipping, and discounts for wholesale and quantity purchases.
Other products and upcoming books
As a complement to the day book, I am also designing from the images in this book a number of complementary products such as placemats, pet bowl mats and memo pads. Keep watching for those here on Portraits of Animals! Sign up for my e-newsletter at the bottom of this page to be sure you don’t miss any special offers.
If the book is a gift to someone, or you have a particular cat or cats in mind, I would be glad to add an inscription in the front of your book.
I had originally wanted to do this as a day book, but was uncertain enough at the reception I decided instead to go with a calendar. I was certain about one thing: I wanted to share those stories and the lovely kitties I’d painted, and a calendar works fine for me. But compiling each one is such an effort because as I’d found with the original Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book, I have to rephotograph nearly every painting, a tricky and time-consuming endeavor, one that would be difficult to pull off each year. This day book still shares the stories and art, but as I publish the variations including other cats and dogs and even animals and people I know the work I’m doing will be in use for much longer.
4.25” x 5.5” spiral-bound booklet of 13 daily sketches in brush pen printed on 120# card stock, book only or as a set with watercolor pencils and a sponge.
I’ve wanted to do a coloring book, but wanted to use something that is unique to one of my styles that is very popular, that of the black outlines with brush pen or brush marker with color fill in marker, watercolor, colored pencil, or just an all over pattern. I chose a baker’s dozen of my brush pen sketches that easily lend themselves to either loose or tight coloring, or even adding to the sketch with your own brush pen.
It’s named for my website, The Creative Cat, where I’ve shared my past and current art and writing since 2009.
But it’s also a play on those words because I want you to be “creative” in this “cat coloring book”. Rather than larger pages with detailed line drawings to color, I’ve used small pages and my loose brush pen sketches with unfinished lines in varying thickness, semi-abstract shapes, and usually no ground, just a figure, and left the rest to you.
Just a quick little thing
You can choose to color in the lines and add a background, or you can forget about the lines altogether and add approximate color fills with markers, sponge patterns on the whole page, spatter with watercolor, use a different media and technique on each one.
I’ve kept them small so you can work out a coloring project in just a few minutes by adding a loose marker fill on the subject, or you can spend time to plan out layers of watercolor to create an abstract background, or don’t use color at all, use pencil, charcoal, or india ink washes.
Easy to handle
The book is bound on the top so that you can flip all the pages up and just have one page to work on without getting media on the other pages, and the freedom to work from either side if you are left- or right-handed. Finished pages can be trimmed out if you’d like.
The heavy uncoated cover stock can take a beating using:
– layers of various markers
– watercolor washes
– watercolor pencils
– colored pencils
– soft pastels
– oil pastels
– acrylic craft paint
– acrylic fine art paint
– pencil, charcoal, ink
– collaging glued paper or fabric
Here are some samples of the above techniques:
Add your own voice
The 12 sketches in this book, plus the one on the cover, each offer a compositional challenge as well, with irregular figures and negative space that just begs you to add your own brush pen marks or make the most of a color technique, glue beads and crystals and flower petals to it, or just leave that space to speak for itself.
So “be creative”!
Everything doesn’t have to be a masterpiece
And not a big book. One of the things that keeps me creating art is doing little things that don’t have to be a masterpiece and I find myself much more willing to experiment and innovate on a little thing than on a bigger finished piece. The book is 4.25″ x 5.5″ and only 12 pages plus covers.
I’ve added several ideas in the back of the book that list techniques and media you could experiment with. Because colored pencils are so popular with coloring books I thought I’d add a twist that people might want to experiment with just by adding a little swipe of water with the included brush, or even use the watercolors with the sponge to add a unique pattern. The brand of watercolor pencils and the sponge and brush will likely vary depending on what I can order at any give time.
Some ideas to get you started
PRACTICE + first, don’t hesitate to get scraps of paper and experiment with a technique until you’re comfortable before you use it in your book
PATTERN + use a small sponge, crumpled rag, scrap of fabric or other textured absorbent material that will create a pattern on the paper, dip it into watered-down watercolor, acrylic craft paint or ink and touch it to the paper to create the desired pattern; layer and mix colors
STENCIL + impress your texture and pattern over the entire sheet, subject and all, or cut out the shape of the subject from waxed paper or stenciling material, place the cut shape over the subject and lightly adhere it, sponge or texture over all, then remove the cut shape to reveal white paper–or cover the paper with the stenciling material, leave the subject open and just pattern/texture the subject
SPATTER + use the stenciling technique above with spattering, using watered-down media, dip an old clean toothbrush into the media, hold the toothbrush at an angle toward the art and lightly brush the handle of a thin paintbrush over the bristles from front to back so a light spray lands on the paper, try different pressures, angles and amounts of media in the brush, add new colors when wet or dry for different results
SCRAPE + cover the paper with oil pastel in solid or blended colors, then use the tip of a paper clip or other plastic or metal object to gently scratch pastel off of the paper creating patterns and textures like stripes, flowers and geometric shapes
COLLAGE + rip colored tissue paper and glue it to the paper
SIMPLIFY + do something very simple, like add color inside the subject with rough angled marker strokes or watercolor, and just leave it at that
FINISH + when you’re done, trim the page out of the book and adhere your work to a blank note card or to a piece of card stock and frame it
The book is printed on pure white 120# uncoated cover that can take a beating with colored pencils, oil pastels, markers, watercolors, even acrylic paint. You can also conveniently isolate one page of the book by flipping all the others above the coil so that you don’t get any media on other pages as you work.
In 2016 alone the Homeless Cat Management Team has spayed or neutered over 1,300 cats at 15 clinics with free or low-cost spays and neuters to stray, feral, rescued and pet cats including over 30 cats rescued from hoarding in Brookline this year. Pittsburgh C.A.T. has fostered and found loving forever homes for almost 500 rescued kittens and cats through HCMT and local shelters. Together we’ve reduced the population of homeless cats in the Pittsburgh area by thousands each year. Help us keep it up and do even more!
Purchase here or read more about the calendar.
Click the images to see larger views.
Photos and rescue stories
Each month features a cat and its story who we rescued through TNR or rescue from abandonment, neglect or abuse, offered medical treatment, fostering, socialization, and a loving forever home that met their individual needs.
You know how I love to write and share these rescue stories, and along with helping these organizations who I support with my particular skills, writing and sharing the rescue stories included in this calendar was probably the greatest creative joy. Some you’ve read here, but most you haven’t. When I chose the cats to feature I first made a list of issues and topics that would would give readers an idea of all the things these two organizations do to make life better for cats, then within those topics I chose the most illustrative stories and the best photos I could find.
Norman’s story was, for me, the most touching of all. You may think it’s not a happy ending, but in truth it’s probably the happiest of all.
IN LOVING HANDS: NORMAN
Animals will often find their way to humans when they need help. While picking up kittens for spay/neuter neighbors had mentioned a friendly gray cat who looked like he needed care, and seeing him Margo decided to take him home and to her vet the next day. He turned out to be around eight years old and neutered, but FIV+ and only six pounds. Her vet didn’t want to be too optimistic about how much time he had left.
About a week later she began to see some breathing difficulty, then his appetite began to wane. He was diagnosed with asthma and her vet began him on albuterol treatments. Margo even built him an oxygen cage, which he actually hopped into when he needed it, waiting for her to turn it on. But he was eating less and less, and obviously failing. Radiographs showed he had cancer all through his abdomen that had advanced aggressively, in just two weeks.
He had stayed in the basement with her other fosters but she decided he should spend some of his last time in the house, and it would be his home for the time he had left. He loved looking out the window, and was well-versed in cat trees and sleeping on the bed. We’ll never know some of their stories, but sometimes the best we can do for them is give them a home for the brief time they have left, and send them off with love.
Go ahead and get your tissues. I talked to Margo all through the events, I wrote the story and read and rewrote and proofed it probably a dozen times, and I still cry when I read it.
Rescue is often full of tears, and happy tears as well when a cat who had suffered an accident that was not survivable, survives against all odds and thrives, like Buddy, and another rescue kitty who’d been hit by a car, Butterscotch, who also fought his way back from severe neurological and physical injuries to live and love. Buddy and Butterscotch are in this calendar, as are the cats we rescued from death in the hoarding case in Brookline, a frightened kitty taken from a shelter when she wasn’t doing well and given months of love to find her forever home, kittens with ringworm given weeks of quarantined treatment instead of being euthanized because no one had the space, time and means to treat them. And feral mom cats whose kittens were rescued and fostered and rehome while they found a home they much preferred, in a cozy barn with other cats and animals and people who loved them, even if they didn’t live indoors. We’ve saved a lot of lives with rescue, and prevented a lot of lives with free and low-cost clinics, and it’s time to celebrate.
In addition, each month is sponsored with an ad from veterinarians, businesses and individuals who work with and support HCMT and Pittsburgh C.A.T., including five of the veterinarians who regularly take a shift at our clinics to spay and neuter plus pet sitting and pet first aid training so you have ready resources for services you and your pets can use right at your fingertips. Each month also features the standard holidays as well as pet-related holidays and events.
The front of the calendar also includes information about HCMT Pittsburgh C.A.T. and clinic dates for the first six months of 2017.
I designed and am publishing this calendar on behalf of these two organizations for which I volunteer and support. All proceeds of sales of this calendar after costs will go directly to our work Making Life Better for Cats Every Day of the Year. Price includes shipping. You’ll find a box to enter your address or special instructions in your shopping cart.
Calendar is 8.5″ x 11″, 28 pages saddle-stitched and includes information on HCMT, Pittsburgh C.A.T. and clinics and adoption.
About the Homeless Cat Management Team and Pittsburgh C.A.T.
The Homeless Cat Management Team is a freestanding TNR organization in the Pittsburgh PA region. Our mission is to lead the way in ending the overpopulation of companion animals in our region by providing high-volume, high-quality, low-cost sterilization. We also assist and support community cat caretakers with trapping, transportation, cat food and shelter and veterinary care.
As part of our TNR process and mission to end feline overpopulation and reduce populations of cats living outdoors, we also assess at our clinic all kittens and friendly cats trapped/captured during TNR processes for adoptability and socialization, and after spay/neuter and age-appropriate vaccines offer them for adoption through our network of volunteer foster homes called Pittsburgh C.A.T.
Read more about these two organizations:
I love to use selections from my portfolio of artwork to gather into a collection of some sort, finding a theme and then a likely way to present the collection, like my calendars. In my “inspiration collection” I have calendars and art and photography books on all subjects that I enjoy simply pulling out to study, and a few friends and readers have asked if I ever planned to do a book of my artwork.
In autumn 2013 I created this little portfolio piece, Feline Style Sampler, sketches and portraits, to include in presentations to prospective illustration customers to both show a variety of styles of illustration and my ability to design a little book like this and have it printed and bound. I was very pleased with the way it turned out and enjoyed the response when I presented it and showed it around to friends.
When a friend admired it and wanted to purchase some for gifts, I thanked her for an idea I hadn’t even considered, though once she mentioned it the idea was a natural. In fact, I had such an enthusiastic response to it on all accounts that I decided to offer it for sale. The award-winning* Feline Style Sampler is simply a collection of 34 images, no text or narrative, though each image has the name and medium of the image inconspicuously added at the bottom of the page. The book is little, only 4.25″ x 5.5″, and coil bound. All pages are printed on 100# gloss cover rather than text weight stock to stand up to handling and to ensure opacity.
The images I’ve included run the gamut from quick and simple ink sketches to highly detailed commissioned pastel paintings. They are a mix of daily sketches, commissioned portraits and a few of my personal works all jumbled together instead of categorizing them by medium or style. They even span my entire career as an artist with a few of my earliest included as well as very recent daily sketches.
I can’t list all the images as I did with my calendars, but in addition to the cover and spreads above here are a few more spreads to give you an idea of what’s here.
. . . . . . .
Winner of a 2014 Certificate of Excellence by the Cat Writers’ Association. Click here to read more about this contest and the awards.
I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry
Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski
FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA
People who’ve attended one or more of my last four poetry readings have encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.
Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.
Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it.
Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.
All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.
Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.
About the books and the poetry readings
My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.
In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.
My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.
Art of the Watershed
A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed
“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.
I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.
I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.
“Art of the Watershed” has not only been a part of my poetry readings from the very first, but as I created each of these paintings in the month of January they also inspired the theme of my reading.
2007: Paths I Have Walked
Signature painting: Dusk in the Woods
2008: Winter Twilight
Signature painting: Morning on the Creek
2009: Change of Season
Signature painting: Autumn in the Valley
2010: Coming Spring
Signature painting: Spring Comes to a Bend in the Creek
Paths I Have Walked
Field of Grass
The Changing Sky
Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania
Like a Tree
Snow at Night
Forever With Each other
Things I Found in the Woods
My First Decision
August 28, 1941
After the Flood
Change of Season
Corsages in a Book
Memorial Day Parade
The Creative Dilemma
Green Sparkle Ball
Even the World Must Rest
The Mystic Chords of Memory
My Garden Waits Under a Blanket of Spring
Pawprints and Raindrops
Taking My Shift
Inventing the Wheel
The Bean-Picking Lesson
The Last Red Berries
The Part of Her
Flocks of Children
The Clock in the Bathroom
You can read more about the readings and the poetry on the poetry page on my website.
Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.