Tribute to our special cat

Last July, not long after moving to North Carolina, a stylist from Country Living Magazine reached out to me on Etsy. She was looking for unique items for a special pet feature they were creating for the October 2018 issue and was interested in working with me to secure one of my hand drawn custom pet portraits.

Best in Show Pet Portraits Country Living Magazine Oct 2018
“Best in Show” Pet Awards featuring custom pet portraits in Country Living Magazine, October 2018 issue

hand drawn mixed media portrait of our cat big guy

The deadline was tight, but I was able to make it work — I was over the moon at the opportunity to be featured in a magazine! And I thought it was particularly nice that it was Country Living, given I had just moved to the country myself. When I asked the stylist if she had a particular direction in mind, she said she’d love to see a ginger tomcat.

Well, that could not have been a more perfect idea for me since I used to have two cats that fit that description. My husband and I adopted Big Guy and Little Guy, a pair of litter mates from a farm near our hometown in Iowa pretty much the second after we moved in together. They were with us for about 16 years and even when it was challenging (through naughtiness, illnesses, and general messes) we loved every day we had with them. They were truly special cats.

I brainstormed some ideas and settled on doing a portrait of Big Guy. He was stoic, gentle, and very sweet. I gave him a buffalo plaid scarf because he reminded me of  a lumberjack — the strong, silent type. His favorite toy was a feather on a wand and when he played with it his eyes got super intense and focused. For his botanical frame, I chose oak branches, which remind me of farms in Iowa.

Working on a product that gets featured in a magazine has always been a dream of mine. When I was a full-time graphic designer, I imagined it happening for one of my clients. But never really for my own work! This was such a fantastic experience and I’m grateful for the team at Country Living for giving me the opportunity to participate in the feature.