Oh Dog! Today I have a special treat for you! Bernadette Kazmarski is a wonderful artist who finds inspiration in her cats. On her blog, The Creative Cat, she showcases her work, as well as her photography, poetry, and of course, her feline family. Help me give a warm welcome to Bernadette!
Rumpy: Thanks so much for being my guest today. Tell me about your art.
Bernadette: My first solo show was entitled “The Extraordinary in the Ordinary”, and I think that’s what my art, whether it’s painting, poetry, photography or even graphic design, is all about, finding the beauty in everyday life and sharing that with others.
Rumpy: I like that! I agree there is beauty in the ordinary, if only we stop to notice. So how did you get started as an artist?
Bernadette: I’ve sketched all my life, starting with the bare crabapple tree in the snow on a winter day using one of my mother’s No. 2 pencils on probably one of my mother’s index cards. I took regular art classes all through school and didn’t study art in college, I have a BA in English because I wanted to be a writer, though I took a few basic drawing classes.
Rumpy: Wow! So what made you decide to use your cats as models?
Bernadette: After college I had a job with crazy hours and I decided I wanted to start sketching again since I couldn’t do much else with the odd hours, so I got my pencils and drew from photos but I wasn’t happy with it. I kept visualizing drawings of the family of cats I lived with then, and once I began drawing them it all came together and I realized, for me at least, I have to have a great depth of feeling for my subject in order for my art to work. I moved from pencil sketches to pastel paintings, when others saw them they wanted one too and this led to my commissioned pet portraits.
Rumpy: I love it! And it sounds familiar. It was Jen’s furry family that is her muse to write. So tell us about this wonderful family of cats of yours?
Bernadette: Right now I am down to five cats from a typical household of nine or ten after 30 years of rescuing and fostering. It’s a little strange when I used to have the most cats of nearly anyone I knew, and they were nearly all cats I’d picked up off the road or pulled from a dumpster or wheedled off of someone who was neglecting them, all with great needs but also great rewards. None of the cats who “got me where I am” as an artist are with me any more; the last two left with Cookie and Kelly earlier this year and with them went the last of those who knew me when.
Rumpy: I’m sorry to hear that.
Bernadette: Now this family of five black cats is quite special. The mom, Mimi belonged to a neighbor who did not spay her despite my nagging, and Mimi had six litters, all four kittens, nearly all black kittens. The neighbors brought me the kittens nearly each time to help them find homes, and one black kitten from Mimi’s fourth litter ended up not being adopted and staying with me. I was caring for four geriatric cats at the time and I would lose them all in the course of a year. Lucy was nearly a year old at the end of all the loss, but then she developed effusive FIP and died at 15 months. I knew her mom was expecting again, so I asked the neighbor for the mom and they just gave her to me. These five are part of an FIP study at UC Davis veterinary school, and I had kept them all for their first year to observe for any symptoms. They are five now, Mimi is about 8, and there have never been any symptoms. (read more about it here).
Rumpy: Wow! I had no idea! How wonderful they are still with you, and that they have done so much to help other cats live longer, happier lives! Bernadette, if people want to check out your work, where can they do that?
Bernadette: Depending on what they want to look at they can go to my main website (www.bernadette-k.com) and click on “fine art and portraiture”. Many of the other links on that home page also lead to artwork and I’d encourage people to explore. Visit The Creative Cat for daily photos and daily sketches plus articles about my cats and my art, and also visit Pinterest for an easy way to browse.
Rumpy: I hope everyone does, because you truly have a way of creating the beauty that is a cat. Just don’t tell June Buggie I said that. Now, last question, if you was a dinosaur, what kind would you be?
Bernadette: I have no idea! We have dinosaurs all over Pittsburgh because of Carnegie Museum of Natural History and all they’ve done to identify and learn about them, but I’ve never pictured myself as one. Maybe one of those little ones.
Rumpy: I’ll bet you’d probably be more like a prehistoric kitty! Thank you SOOOOO much for being my guest today!
All photos and artwork posted today is the property of Bernadette Kazmarski, and was used with permission.