Many people don't realize it, but black cats are often left behind in shelters. Perhaps it's superstition, perhaps it's simply because it's hard to photograph them and the tabbies and calicoes and spotted cats simply show up better in a crowd, but black cats are often the last adopted. So shelters and rescues have instituted national events to promote the adoption of black cats because those of us who do live with them love them to pieces, and know they are really no different from other cats.
Just a glance at The Creative Cat will tell you that we certainly do, especially since those of us here who are not black cats are greatly outnumbered! And for Black Cat Appreciation Day we have an offer to benefit Black Cat Rescue of Boston and a special discount on all our black cat stuff.
As a cat lover and animal lover I always say I care more for what's under the fur than the fur itself and I'm sure most of would say that. But as an artist I also love all varieties and types of fur on all my animal subjects, and in the animals I live with I have always enjoyed a variety of color and pattern and solid.
About the inspiration of black cats
But even before I had a cat of my own, I loved black cats. Each summer when the neighbors' cats had kittens, back in the days before regular spay and neuter, I loved the dark tabby swirls and stripes and the creamsicle orange and whites and the shimmering solid grays. But the fuzzy black kittens, the sleek black adults, appealed to a visual style that I still love today—the clear silhouette, the contrast of eyes, no matter the color, in dark fur, the play of light on physical structure, finding the graceful curves of cheekbone and hip. I had no idea then what was developing in my young aesthetic sensibilities, but it is still with me today as I look at these five, still a surprise to see a highlight gracefully trace the spine to the tail, or see whiskers emerge from the darkness of a muzzle tucked in sleep. And all the colors that emerge from black fur in different light...I could go on and on, but you see it nearly every day in my sketches and in the art I present.
And long before Mimi and the Fantastic Four, before most of the cats who shared my life, in fact, was the first black cat, the first cat I adopted as an adult. He rescued me while I was in college and became my feline muse even then, before I was even working as an artist, and continued to guide and inspire me, to both art and to rescue—his rescue and the way I came to feel for him was the reason I began rescuing years ago.
And even as I began sketching, drawing, painting, and developed my techniques with animal portraiture, he remained an inspiration, but never a model. He died in 1996, but it wasn't until 2005 that I finally painted his portrait. In part this was because I had so few photos of him, and not for the lack of a camera but because he was always on me somewhere, draped around my neck under my hair, hanging with his paws around my neck and nestled in my elbow, on my lap, on the back of my chair. Even with studying him all the years he was with me, I still needed reference photos to be certain I had the details right.
About this portrait
But he was also a very complex cat, we had been through quite a lot, and for years I could not decide what pose would be best to capture him, I could visualize him in so many ways and while I considered the idea of painting a series of portraits of him, I knew I just needed to wait, and it would come to me.
And it did one morning when I turned around and saw the winter sun shining brilliantly on the bare wooden floor and I remembered watching him rolling around there in the way he did, acting silly, often in apology for something he'd done that I didn't particularly care for like opening the refrigerator and pulling food out. But I knew what I was remembering was a moment when he was acting as feline therapist, because I was having a bad day as I sometimes did and he knew it and was doing his best to get me past my dark mood, not just with being adorable and irresistible but also with letting the sun play across his fur, pulling all those wonderful mahogany and blue-purple shades from within it, his pale green eyes contrasting with the depth of his face, his velvety paws waving aimlessly, the shadows falling crisp in the sun and soft in light reflected off the doors and walls, pulling the details from the old wood boards, each one different.
Then, his expression, direct, "Are you looking at me?" Not only for attention for himself, but for my own distraction. It worked every time.
All the lights came on for me and I saw this portrait in that moment. I found the few reference photos I had and began immediately. Dark mood? He could still dispel it nearly ten years later.
Bid on this print to benefit Black Cat Rescue
I have one signed full-size highest quality giclée print of this painting on all-cotton archival cover, which I normally retails for $150.00. I would like to "auction" this to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going directly to Black Cat Rescue to benefit their efforts to save black cats (reference "Bid on This Print and Start Celebrating Peaches' 100th Birthday" to see an example). I'll start the bidding at $25.00, and you can bid in any amount by simply commenting on this blog post with your bid. Bidding will continue from today until next Friday, August 24, at midnight, and on Saturday, August 25 I'll find the highest bidder and announce the winner. The winner sends the amount to Black Cat Rescue and I ship the print to the winner, rolled in a mailing tube at no charge.
And free shipping all week for prints of this painting and all merchandise in my Etsy shop.
Browse my Etsy shop for what's currently available, and at checkout use the coupon code "BLACKCATS". It will remain active until next Friday.
I have 11" x 14" and 8" x 10" giclées of this print as well as 8" x 10" digital prints, and because I also offer it as a greeting card it is included in my "Feline Greetings Art Cards" collection.
I tried to set this up for just black cat merchandise, but the Etsy search engine wasn't cooperating, and I'm not terribly concerned if the art has a black cat, or if it has a cat at all. The sale of any art in my shop benefits my black cats, of course, and also the donations of art and merchandise I make to benefit animals. The more I sell, the more I can give.
Special orders don't upset us
I can easily have prints made on canvas in various sizes, I can pack a special box of a half dozen or a full dozen cards from the selections you see above or in my Etsy shop, and I also offer custom framing, just send me a conversation on Etsy or an e-mail here.
In addition, if you see a piece of artwork on my website or here on The Creative Cat that you would like to purchase, please ask. See a few examples here. Orders taken during this week will be eligible for free shipping regardless when they are eventually shipped.
And remember, it all benefits black cats and all cats!
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 purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.