Muse Medallions and a Special Award in the CWA Communications Contest

Mr. Sunshine puts his paw on the program

This program is Black Cat Approved.

Now that I’ve been there and back, I’m pleased to report that I won two Muse Medallions in the 2013 Cat Writers’ Association Communications Contest, and I am also honored to have won a huge special award. You can read a bit about my visit to the conference in Zeki and a Few Cat Writers.

President’s Award

The biggest winner of all is my series of illustrations entitled “Cats After van Gogh”, the oil pastel sketches inspired by my April 2012 visit to the “Van Gogh Up Close” exhibit. These won the CWA President’s Award, a total surprise for me!

For this annual contest we enter our work for all regular categories for which winners are given Certificates of Excellence, and special awards, which are judged by sponsoring organizations. From the Certificates of Excellence a judging panel chooses the best of the best for CWA Muse Medallions. But the President of CWA personally chooses the winner of the President’s Award from among all the Muse Medallions, and the award is sponsored by the Cat Fancier’s Association. I had sent the garden flag in this design as my entry in this category.

"Cats After Van Gogh"

“Cats After Van Gogh”

It’s particularly gratifying for this art to win this award, not only for its honor but for the meaning of the art in my career as an artist. I had decided to draw my daily sketches as a daily exercise for me, so that I’d have the chance to do a little artwork at least once each day. As a challenge to myself to actually follow through and be honest about where I am as an artist, I decided to post them as I did them—no editing, no waiting, no excuses, just do the sketch and share it, otherwise it would be too easy to just put it off and not do the sketches or post them.

And the end goal of this is not just to do a little art each day, but to learn and grow a little each day as well, and I did, quickly growing too comfortable with pencil and moving to colored pencils and ink and watercolor pencils and even a few oil pastels. But it was when I went to see the exhibit and came home with my eyes full of colors and textures and shapes from all the paintings I’d seen and looked at Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine sitting there on the floor and immediately turned them into a new style in a sketch using what I’d learned, and I’ve since created others in the same style. That’s what it’s all about.


Muse Medallions for The Creative Cat.

Muse Medallions

Of course, the fact that this series won the President’s Award means it also won a Muse Medallion, and so it did in the category “Illustration: Series”. The judge’s comments were, “A striking nod to Van Gogh. The reverse view of 2 cats (something the artist does well) is striking and the colors and composition are spot on!

And there’s one more Muse Medallion, one that really makes me proud. The Creative Cat, the platform that enables me to further my career as a writer and artist, won a Muse Medallion in the category of “Blog: Entertainment”—the second Muse for this site because I also won it in 2011. The judges’ comment was, “An enjoyable entry. Very clever headlines.” Ha ha! I’ll bet you didn’t know I spent 15 years designing “junk mail” and a clever headline was key to its success, so I can thank all those clever ads I designed that were successful for our customers.

Thanks to all of you for reading, commenting and sharing I’ve made this site step by step into what it is, and that’s why it wins awards.

Certificates of Excellence

These awards are self-nominated so I chose what to enter. They are judged by a jury of my peers, other members of the Cat Writers’ Association; I am also a judge in this contest for materials in categories I don’t submit.

Nominating one’s self for awards in various professional contests is not necessarily an act for the ego; it’s one of those professional activities in which you participate especially when you’re self-employed, but even if not. Participating in contests and receiving awards distributes your work to a further audience and also puts it before other professionals in your field for assessment, a completely different set of judges from those who enjoy or use your work. This raises the value of what you do and helps to give you more opportunities to do even more work. And especially when you work for yourself it’s, in part, a benchmark for how you’re doing, and a pat on the back.

About that “humility” thing…when I talk to other developing professional artists and writers who hesitate to nominate themselves for awards I tell them that we always need to have a good dose of humility about everything we do, but the time for that is while we are producing the work, not after it’s been published or presented. When I first began showing and selling my art, a completely frightening thing to do, I would immediately undercut myself whenever someone complimented a painting, pointing out all of what I felt were its flaws, until I realized what that said about how I felt about my own work. Why would anyone even want to look at it let alone purchase it if I thought it was so flawed? Why had I even shown it? It is a matter of honesty to point out your own flaws, but especially with my commissioned portraits, which I’d created for someone, it made no sense at all to make a practice of it. At one point when I was deeply complimented by someone I simply said, “Thank you.” Describing this to a friend she said, “Congratulations, you’re all grown up now.” I got the lesson. Only after I jumped that hurdle with my artwork did I even dare to start sharing my writing.

The Awards

The award letter reads that “the standards for winning a Certificate of Excellence are very high and this award is a recognition of your outstanding work.” Also, winners of the coveted CWA Muse™ Medallion are chosen from among the Certificate of Excellence winners, all of which will be announced at the annual conference in November.

Thanks go to my family of cats, yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s.



The Creative Cat
Blog: Entertainment
Certificate of Excellence


“My First Litter”,
Online Article Opinion Piece, Essay or Editorial
Certificate of Excellence


“Cats After Van Gogh”
Illustration (Series)
Certificate of Excellence

“Cranberry Goes to the Block Party”
Illustration (Series)
Certificate of Excellence

You can see this list and awards I’ve won in previous years on my Cat Writers’ Association page. Read more about the Cat Writers’ Association and their annual Communications Contest which includes work published in all media, from books to television to newspapers and magazines—these are the people who write and broadcast about feline health and welfare, reviewing foods and books and products, cartoonists, illustrators and authors of all sorts. If you are a writer, illustrator, videographer, artist or in any way create public communications about cats, please read up on the organization and consider becoming a member!

Congratulations to all the other winners as well!


  1. bea pitassi

    Congratulations Bernadette! I met you Sunday at the homeless cat dinner. I really am enjoying your artwork. Such a gift you have. I didn’t ask, but do you do portraits, either watercolor or otherwise of our own cats? And the price? Do you have a gallery of your own, or display somewhere when we can go when we want to buy more?

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