In October 2015, just before the Halloween, we've signed up to Rachel's newsletter on cat-
Exclusive interview with the owner of beautiful animal paintings we can’t but admire.
You know when your cat is dreaming and she starts moving her paws or chattering in her sleep? Years ago, I had an idea for a picture book that would show what was going on inside cats’ minds during different dreams. I painted a few of the dreams, mostly in miniature. Count Catula was in a nightmare, but a silly nightmare. Unfortunately-
Last year, the company I use to make prints of my paintings began producing fabric. I started designing fabric that can be sewn into cat pillows. Then I remembered Count Catula! I extended the image with Photoshop brushes so that he would be a full figure. I had to order the fabric a few times before I got the design just right, so I sewed up the practice cats for giveaways. I even enlarged the design so that I could have a huge, standing, three-
‘…basically I love painting anything with eyes and ears…’
I’m building another website, Dog-
My style is relatively realistic, only with colours that sometimes border on psychedelic (I was born in the 1960s). I skip details if I don’t think they add to the painting: I figure if I’m getting bored painting an area, then the viewer will get bored looking at it.
‘My greatest weakness is orange tabbies. ’
Watercolour is my favourite medium: I love how pigments bloom and granulate. Ninety-
I have a wonderful work area set up on an old ping pong table. It’s large enough so that I can bounce back and forth between two or three paintings during a session. There’s even room for a cat bed…
‘…my husband went out and bought
a pair of French doors. He converted
our living room into a cat room…’
Is this your cat? Do you have many cats?
Except for one Siamese I had as a teenager, all of my cats have either been shelter or feral cats. My greatest weakness is orange tabbies.
At one point my husband and I had five cats. One of our sons developed severe asthma and pneumonia when he was four. The doctor told us to get rid of all of our cats immediately. But our son is a real animal lover. He was going to miss the cats terribly.
I was worried about finding homes for Tickles and Marina. They are both black cats, and black cats, for whatever reason, are adopted less frequently than others.
While I was trying to find the cats new homes, my husband went out and bought a pair of French doors. He converted our living room into a cat room, just the right size for the two cats I hadn’t found homes for. Tick and Mo had comfy furniture, their litter box, and an air purifier. Our son could still interact with them through the French doors.
On our first appointment with our son’s asthma specialist, I was worried he’d think we were terrible parents for keeping the cats. But he encouraged us…he thought it was important that our son have as normal a childhood as possible.
After several years, we got our son’s symptoms under control. The cats again have full reign over the house, except for the kids’ bedroom. Tickles and Marina are senior kitties now, both of them over 16 years old.
‘…I'm going to continue painting the fundraisers for the animal shelters though. They give me great joy...’
My husband suggested auctioning my paintings as a way to help shelter animals without actually adopting all of them ourselves!
The paintings for charity are 11” x 14”, matted to fit a standard 16” x 20” frame. I always use cream coloured matts: my colour choices are so saturated that the paintings need to be within a calm colour.
We make exceptions for local shelters, but generally we run the auctions through Ebay’s Giving Works. That way the shelters receive all of the donation directly from the winning bidder. Shelters need to join Giving Works to receive direct payment.
The shelters themselves have a huge say in how successful the auctions are. If they spread the news through their social media, there is a good response.
I'm going to continue painting the fundraisers for the animal shelters though. They give me great joy.
My first thought was to tell you about my third grade teacher. I was going through a hard time after my grandfather died, and I ended up getting sick and missing a lot of school. When I came back, my teacher had cleared off one of her chalkboards for me. Each week, she had me draw and write a new story in that space. Not only was it very kind of her, it was good writing practice…she would correct me in front of the class if I made a spelling or grammar mistake. Fairy paintings as I learn!
But before I was writing, before I was even in school, I was playing and acting out stories with a friend who lived down the street. He had an amazing imagination. We’d take our story from the day before and either change it or add on to it. I think that’s why I’ve never minded revising and editing my writing.
Often I’m only writing for myself. It’s rare that there’s a story that I feel is ready to push out into the light of the world. Lately I’ve been polishing a chapter book about Marina and the fairies she spends time with in our back woods. I’ve sold a few illustrations over the years, but never really tried to illustrate a whole book, which demands consistency from one illustration to the next. Traditional publishers choose their own illustrators, and I don’t have much experience. But for this book, I’ll try my hand. I’ve painted Mo frequently over the years, but learning to paint delicate fairy skin tones after all that lovely black fur is a challenge. If it doesn't work out, at least I have another website, Fairy-
Below one can find various links to webpages mentioned during the interview:
Places where one can buy Rachel’s artwork
|Caption Challenge 2016|
|Halloween with Daisy Blue|