An interview with Susan Faye, artist, designer and cat lover

Susan Faye loves to create whimsical portraits of cats and their humans.   She lives in the Great Pacific Northwest on the banks of Willamina Creek with a cat or two and a room full of really great art supplies. She has been a professional artist for most of her adult life, and in addition to painting cat ladies, she enjoys painting traditional watercolors and nature studies, and designing hand-crafted giftware and jewelry. She also enjoys gardening, hiking, birdwatching, and photography.

Welcome to The Conscious Cat, Susan.

Thanks Ingrid, I am delighted to be here (in that mysterious and magical cyberspace sort of way!)

How do your cats inspire your art?

I’ve always been enchanted by cats — I love their shiny bright eyes, their beautiful markings and soft fur, their quirky personalities and their apparent ongoing inner battle between devotion and detachment. I’ve always had at least one cat in my life since about the age of 7, so there has been quite a LONG parade of personalities that have inspired me. I must say, however, that I am an equal-opportunity pet lover and have just as much affection for the dogs, guinea pigs, gold fish, parakeets, and the one Bearded Dragon lizard who have shared my home over the years!

While cats are featured prominently in your artwork, you also paint other subjects. What is more challenging – capturing cats, or capturing other images?

On custom portraits, the cats are pretty easy as long as I have a good photo of their markings– the real challenge is to capture the cat lady or feline fella. Unlike photography, which always seems to add 20 lbs, I tend to eliminate about 20 lbs on my subjects when I draw them. The funny thing is, I’ve had at least three different cat ladies ask for me to “fluff them up” a bit to be more representative of their beautiful curves!

I do love drawing and painting cats and cat ladies in an illustrative, whimsical illustration style, but my other true love is painting more traditional watercolor paintings of nature, including birds and botanicals. These paintings are definitely more challenging for me– the ultimate goal is to “capture light” in the painting and maintain a translucence in the color, always a new challenge with each painting!

What is the creative process like for you?

An over-abundance of creative energy seems to always be surging through my veins (almost to the point of obsession, and to the detriment of any reasonable attempt at housekeeping!) which probably came from growing up in a household where building, making, sewing, and decorating things was always going on. My best ideas seem to pop into my head out of nowhere, and I’ve found that the trick is to learn how to “empty out” the analytical, linear, practical left side of your brain so that the creative, intuitive, spatial right side of your brain can just fill up.  If you TRY to fill it up, it won’t happen. If you just “let go”, it will fill up to the point of spilling over.

Once I have an idea, I’ll work on pencil sketches and small studies to work out composition and colors, then transfer the design to watercolor paper with light pencil lines. Then I start filling in sections, layering, and blending with color. It’s a lot like a construction process–you have to think about your foundation and then building up different layers in a certain order. That’s where the analytical side of my brain gets to have some input and feel really useful!

Tell us a little about your feline family members.

I currently have one indoor cat, Buttonwillow, and two semi-feral cuties who live in my carport: Sweet Pea and Mr. Smokey. Buttonwillow was born to Sweet Pea under my house soon after I moved in, but renounced her feral status when she got a taste of the good life indoors. All have since been spayed and neutered. You can find out more about Buttonwillow on my blog– recently she put together a great physical fitness routine for couch potatoes.

You can find more information about Susan’s art on her website, and you can also find many of her wonderful creations on her Etsy page. Susan also hosts a wonderful blog titled 365 Cat Ladies, where she showcases her wonderful creations, including stories about the cat ladies and other animal lovers that she‘s had the pleasure of painting.

Susan is offering a giveaway of one of her beautiful pendants – the winner gets to choose which one.  To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post.  Share the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter and leave the link in a separate comment for another chance to win.  This giveaway ends December 22.

91 Comments on An interview with Susan Faye, artist, designer and cat lover

  1. Ingrid
    August 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm (5 years ago)

    I love Susan Faye and her work. I’ve met her at the Oregon Lavender Festival. I have several pair of her wonderful earrings both cats and adorable bunnies too.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm (5 years ago)

      How nice to see a comment from another Ingrid – it’s such a rare name in this country, I don’t meet other Ingrid’s very often!

      Reply
  2. Sara Mc
    December 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm (7 years ago)

    Susan’s very talented and captures kitty faces so well!
    Thanks for bringing her to our attention!

    Reply
  3. Cyn Marie
    December 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm (7 years ago)

    What a wonderful story – wearing one of these beautiful pendants is a great way to proudly declare one’s status as a true cat lover. I currently have 4 beautiful cats, 3 siblings from Cat Adoption Team and one direct rescue that has turned our house upside down and made it his. I love them all!

    Reply
  4. Donna L.
    December 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm (7 years ago)

    Beautiful jewelry—please enter me to win!

    Reply
  5. Sheila
    December 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm (7 years ago)

    The pendants are great—I would love to win one!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

    Reply
  6. MIssKItty
    December 17, 2010 at 3:38 am (7 years ago)

    I enjoy looking at all of the wonderfil creations that Susan comes up with!

    Reply
  7. Susan
    December 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm (7 years ago)

    Adorable pendants! I’d love one, as a cat meowmy myself 🙂

    Reply
  8. Anita
    December 16, 2010 at 6:50 pm (7 years ago)

    So darling! I love all of them

    Reply
  9. Amy's Stocking Stuffers
    December 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm (7 years ago)

    I love the cat portrait up above! I love the way it incorporates their interests (reading and guitar) as well as their Very Obvious love of cats!

    Reply
  10. Lynn
    December 16, 2010 at 1:55 am (7 years ago)

    Whenever I can find clothing or accessories that display the beauty and deep spirituality of a Cat, I am drawn to it, want to own it!
    Our six cats bring so much joy, love and beauty to our home and lives.
    I love wearing anything Cat to proclaim my love for these special creatures!!
    Your pendants are sweet and beautiful and any cat lover would be proud to display them!
    And buy them for their family and friends who are also appreciators of the Cat..

    Reply
  11. Teri and the cats of Furrydance
    December 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm (7 years ago)

    Oh…I just love Susan work—one day I will have her design a new header for my blog…

    I would love to have my day brightened by one of these pendants!

    Reply
  12. AmberRose@>-->-
    December 15, 2010 at 8:58 am (7 years ago)

    These are luffly and fun pendants. I think ML would really enjoy wearing one. If she doesn’t win, maybe I could buy one for from the etsy place.
    Mews
    AmberRose Catchelor

    Reply
  13. Karen
    December 15, 2010 at 2:13 am (7 years ago)

    Just looking at these pendants brightens my day! Wouldn’t it be great to wear one everyday!?!

    Reply
  14. A, Green
    December 14, 2010 at 11:58 pm (7 years ago)

    Your designs are lovely. I think your playful yet peaceful designs would brighten anyone’s day!

    Reply
  15. Pat Woods
    December 14, 2010 at 9:30 pm (7 years ago)

    OH THIS JEWELRY is lovely. I enjoy cat jewelry and accessories, would be so proud to wear this.

    Reply
  16. Sharon Knight
    December 14, 2010 at 8:20 pm (7 years ago)

    Wonderful interview!!! Thank you for having this contest. Your art captures the cat with all it’s quarks. It’s awesome!!!

    Reply
  17. Amy Quandt
    December 14, 2010 at 2:09 pm (7 years ago)

    I am enraptured by the “Bibliophile” pendant… nothing more enjoyable than curling up with a book & my Freya!

    Your art is absolutely lovely… Thank you Susan Faye & Ingrid for sharing it with us!

    Reply
  18. Lizzie
    December 14, 2010 at 11:51 am (7 years ago)

    Oh, how lovely! I love the idea of carrying a memento of my cat with me (the Bibliophile kitty looks just like mine!)

    Reply
  19. Aliza
    December 14, 2010 at 11:05 am (7 years ago)

    What beautiful pieces of jewelry! I especially love the ones of the kitties with birds, and the cat with the sunflower!

    Reply
    • Mary Ellen Imhoff
      December 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm (7 years ago)

      I am cat lover too. I have three cats myself. I always go by your stand when you are the annual Cat show at the Dulles Expo. You items you sell are so pretty. I also like collecting anything that deals with cats. My husband says I have to many cats things. You never have to many cat things. If my husband can by a tool, why can I collect cats items. It is a woman right to collect things. If they don’t they can do what they wish to do with it. Cats are little woman in fur coats. I might be petite, but I know how to voice my opinion.

      Mary Ellen Imhoff

      Reply

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