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An Interview with an Artist

Catherine at Wild at Art, who did the amazing graphite portrait of Rio for me, graciously agreed to an interview.

1. Tell us a little about yourself: What got you interested in art? Have you taken any art classes?

I am self-taught, though I did attend the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for one year to study commercial art. I spent countless hours studying on my own at museums, zoos and just observing pets to learn anatomy and how to draw different animals.

2. What or who inspired you to become and artist?

My earliest memory, at about age 3, is of drawing a horse so I must have been born to be an artist! :-)

Cheleyne and Rebel, Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse
12" x 16" oil on canvas

3. How long have you been creating?

My whole life....I started out drawing then later taught myself colored pencils, oil painting and pastels. I have even played a bit with sculpture and would like to do more of that someday.

4. Do you have an art role model?

I admire many artists who work in many different mediums from photography to glass to painting and everything in-between. I respect and admire every artist's personal self expression and creativity.

5. What is the main challenge you face when beginning a new piece?

For my pet portraiture, the main challenge is to discover and then bring to life that animal's unique character and spirit. A lot can be seen in the eyes but something as subtle as the tilt of his or her head can convey that animal's personality and character.

Maggie Mae
12" x 12" oil on canvas

6. Do you have a favorite or favorites of your artwork? If so, why is it your favorite?

I don't have a favorite as each piece I do holds it's own special memory and I learn from each one. They are all like friends who hold their own special significance.

 7. Do you have a favorite medium?

I think it would probably be graphite as it allows me to really get in-depth with detail and capture the essence of the particular animal I am working on. I also enjoy the challenge that comes with working only in values with no color.

Brodee, my sister's Dane

8. Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?

9. Do you set a certain time each day to create or do you just work as the mood strikes you?

I try to keep pretty regular working hours but it can change a bit from day to day. Sometimes I find myself doing my best work very late at night, while it's quiet, the dogs are asleep and I listen to late night talk radio. :-)


10. I see that you do mostly animals but have a few people on your web page. Do you have a favorite subject to paint?

Lol, I have a friend and client, Gail, who is challenging me to paint people (her grandchildren). I am trying to learn to become comfortable painting people but it may take some time. I have always been drawn to animals both in my life and in my art.

12" x 12" oil on canvas

11. What do you like most about being an artist?

Many things......I love being able to memorialize a pet who has passed away and give the owner a memory and connection when they look at their portrait.  I love the self expression, the challenge and seeing my work improve over time. I love the feeling of "family" you have with other artists.....And I just love drawing :-)

Bree, my sister's Dane
11" x 14" memorial graphite portrait

12. What do you hate most about being an artist?

It is extremely hard to make a living as a fine artist. The old adage "starving artist" is often true. I don't think people realize how much of yourself you put into each piece of art you do and how many hours you work to create art. It's not something you leave at the office. It's who you are, and I think in many cases artists do art because of their love for it in spite of how difficult it is to survive.

13. Can you remember one of the first things you painted? What makes it memorable?

The first painting I did in oils was of an Old English Sheepdog when I was 17 years old. I gave it to a friend. I also did a large painting of lions for my home. After that I was very into painting whales for a long time. Recently, I painted an albino dolphin calf who was captured in Taiji Japan and put on display there at the Whaling Museum. I wanted to raise awareness about cetaceans in captivity with this painting. It is called "Angel of Taiji" and is currently being auctioned to benefit the Ric O'Barry Dolphin Project. I had prints made as well, with all proceeds going to the dolphin project.

"Angel of Taiji"

14. What do you do when you're not painting? What other hobbies do you have?

I have two Harlequin Great Danes; Maggie and Lucy, who I spend a great deal of time with. I am also interested in health and gardening.

15. Where can we reach you if we are interested in you creating a painting for us?

I can be reached by email at

16. What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating?

I think the hardest part is starting and this is probably true of many things in life. We just have to start, and do our best and the rest will follow. I know for me, I am still sometimes slow to start a project but once I start, I can't stop till it's finished.

20" x 24" oil on canvas

17.  What are you currently working on?

I am currently starting a memorial colored pencil portrait of a sweet little Rat named Emma. This is for my friend and client, Jade. I did a portrait of her beloved bunny last year, also in colored pencils.

Memorial rough sketch

18. What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Maybe that I am vegan and have been active for many years in animals rights. Or maybe that would not be so surprising since almost all my art is of animals. :-)

19. Do you have any favorite blogs you read?

I follow some health blogs like One Green Planet but as far as artists go, I mainly follow them on Facebook. My favorite page at the moment is Bryan Holland Arts. I love his work!

20. Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?

It sounds cliche but I would only say "do what you love". I know that it can be a challenge to actually do what you dream of doing but there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from being real and who you are and doing what you love. :-)

Maggie, Lucy, Catherine and Bodhi

And there you have it folks, my very first interview and with a wonderful woman who's heart shows in her art. <3 I really enjoyed doing this and hope to do more interviews in the future. :-)

If you'd like to see more of her work, click below for her website, Facebook page and Pinterest.




And if you stop by her place, tell her I said "Hi!". :-D


  1. Jennifer, Thank you so much for the interview!!

    1. Thank YOU Catherine, for agreeing to do it! I had a blast! 😃

  2. Love this interview/blog! And thanks for adding in Bree (RIP) and Brodee, Jennifer...You do an amazing job with all your work Cathy!

  3. Wow I love the elephant!! Catherine is very talented and I LOVE that she is self taught since I am teaching myself to draw in graphite and charcoal and I have a friend teaching me watercolor. :D Something to aspire to although I'll probably never make money at it since turning the things I love into jobs makes me hate doing it.. weird I know.

    Jennifer you did a great job with the questions in the interview! I enjoyed it very much!

    1. Thanks girl! Catherine does AMAZING work and I was honored she agreed to the interview. It was the LEAST I could do after the amazing portrait she did of Rio. :-)


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