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. Robb Leamy
    December 14, 2010 at 10:59 am (7 years ago)

    Beautiful pendants. They would be wonderful Christmas gifts. Hope to win one,

    Reply
  2. Diane Riedel
    December 14, 2010 at 9:41 am (7 years ago)

    What amazing work you do! I especially like the kitty with the birds. Sooooo cute.

    Reply
  3. Gina Woods-Norris
    December 14, 2010 at 9:36 am (7 years ago)

    The pendants are so cute and whimsical! I love them 🙂

    Reply
  4. Barbara Hornum
    December 14, 2010 at 8:20 am (7 years ago)

    Love the blog and adore the jewelry. The poses of the cats are wonderful.

    Reply
  5. claire
    December 14, 2010 at 8:14 am (7 years ago)

    Good Morning!

    Susan’s artwork is absolutely beautiful and unique. I will keep my fingers and toes crossed for a chance of winning one!

    Reply
  6. Sherry Black
    December 14, 2010 at 7:22 am (7 years ago)

    I have never heard of this artist until I saw your posting today. I LOVE her work. Having one of her necklaces would be a wonderful addition to my collection of cat jewelry.

    Reply
  7. Judie
    December 14, 2010 at 3:42 am (7 years ago)

    I am loving the little ginger cat, he so reminds me of Vincenzo my ginger boy (although he will insist that he is not ginger but strawberry blonde!)

    Reply
  8. lin seerey
    December 14, 2010 at 3:10 am (7 years ago)

    Wow…love it……♥

    Reply
  9. brenda
    December 14, 2010 at 1:27 am (7 years ago)

    love all my cats and your art is so cool love to win

    Reply
  10. holly
    December 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm (7 years ago)

    been at cat lover myself and an artist, these are fantastic. the joys of colors you use, to express the cats fullness of life and joy that they bring to us, is amazing. cats have always brought joy and happiness to me and my partners life, they are like children to us!!! but what susan does is bringing the fun of cats into our lives. i love these!!! 🙂

    Reply
  11. Madeline Smith
    December 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm (7 years ago)

    What beautiful work! As a jewelrymaker my work is also inspired – and sometimes assisted – by my feline companions.

    Reply
  12. BeadedTail
    December 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm (7 years ago)

    We love Susan’s work and would love to be entered in the giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity!

    Reply
  13. Via Negativa
    December 13, 2010 at 11:30 pm (7 years ago)

    Love the artwork on those pendants over at The Cat’s Meow! Susan is very talented. Would love to win one of these!

    Reply
  14. Lynn Bacon
    December 13, 2010 at 10:45 pm (7 years ago)

    So glad I found you via The Cat’s Meow! Your art and your stories are wonderful!

    Reply
  15. Shelly Hawley-Yan
    December 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm (7 years ago)

    Beautiful work! You are awesome at capturing the silly but regal, self satisfied look on each cats face. each has their own purrsonality shine through. Lovely!

    Reply
  16. Carol Armstrong
    December 13, 2010 at 10:41 pm (7 years ago)

    Such beautiful work!
    Excellent at capturing the nature
    of the cats we all love so much.

    Reply
  17. Robin
    December 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm (7 years ago)

    I love Susan’s work and so do my cats!

    Reply
  18. Bonnie
    December 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm (7 years ago)

    They’re all so beautiful and original! Would love to win one to show the world that I’m a cat luver! I have a young calico named Patti who I just adopted this Summer and a “chubby” tabby named Felony who I’ve had for almost 8 years. I also feed a stray black & white manx who I call Buddy. I love them all! >^..^<

    Reply
  19. Enka
    December 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm (7 years ago)

    OMG! I love your art!!! I’m on art school and I love to draw and paint cats too, but not as pretty as yours! I would love to have a little luck just now ^^

    Reply
  20. Valerie McMullen
    December 13, 2010 at 9:45 pm (7 years ago)

    Wow! What great artwork Susan! You are very talented in many ways! I love the many joys cats bring to our lives and you certainly capture that!

    Reply
  21. Skeezix the Cat
    December 13, 2010 at 9:13 pm (7 years ago)

    Susan Faye is the best cat artist arownd!!! I’m her biggest fan. I am very lucky that she painted two portrits of me. I hope I win the pendant, but good luk to evrybuddy else, too!!!

    Reply
  22. Mary Beth
    December 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm (7 years ago)

    They are lovely!!! Winning one would be great.

    Reply
  23. Laura Strickland
    December 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm (7 years ago)

    I love Susan’s work, and have one of her prints hanging in my sunroom! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Reply
  24. Kate D
    December 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm (7 years ago)

    Such fun cat artwork. I used to collect ginger cat art when I had my ginger cat Fat Eric. But now I have Dora the tortie and I don’t have any tortie art at all, I need to start collecting!

    Reply
  25. Willow & Morgan
    December 13, 2010 at 7:25 pm (7 years ago)

    We love these – Mom has had her eyes on them for awhile now – MOL! She says they all make her smile because she see so many kitties who’ve toucher her heart through the years.

    We say maybe if she’s a good Swabie Santa Paws may just surprise her? Buts she has to be really really GOOD!

    Purrs from the Pirate Ship

    Morgan & Willow – off to share on Facebook

    Reply
  26. Sharon Irving
    December 13, 2010 at 6:24 am (7 years ago)

    Love your cat art – I’ve got 7 cats so you can see the attraction.

    Reply
  27. karen wunch
    December 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm (7 years ago)

    LOVE you Susan!

    Reply
  28. Denise
    December 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm (7 years ago)

    I come here and what do I find – a TORTIE!!! They are the BESTEST kitties. I hope we can see more torties in your work (although all your work is wonderful!)
    Thank you for shining the spotlight on our tortie babies.
    The 6 pack + 1
    Tessa (Tortie and clan Matriarch)
    Carmen (LADY Carmen to you – Maine Coon)
    Salem (Tuxedo who is large and in charge)
    April (crabby grey tabby)
    Sootz (black terror on four paws)
    Zeus (They call me MR. Purr)
    Ozzie (Tuxedo whose lights are on but nobody’s home)

    Reply
  29. 8GR8CATS
    December 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm (7 years ago)

    Wonderful interview! I like the part where your paintbrush deletes 20 pounds instead adding 10 pounds like the camera! Thank for that! We have had 4 custom portraits painted by Susan and each is a TRUE masterpiece and are so loved by their PURRsons! XO CC & 8GR8CATS- Puffy in spirit!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm (7 years ago)

      Yet another incentive to have Susan paint a custom portrait – instant weight loss! Thanks for stopping by, 8GR8CATS!

      Reply
  30. Angie, Catladyland/Katt Food
    December 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm (7 years ago)

    I absolutely adore her artwork! I am looking forward to checking out more of her work 🙂 The singing piece is also my favorite — it has such a happy vibe!

    p.s. Stop by Catladyland today to qualify for the cat treat giveaway! Yummy!!!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm (7 years ago)

      Doesn’t the singing piece just make you smile, Angie? I stopped over by your site, but someone had already “stolen” my idea for a caption. Will have to ponder it some more!

      Reply
  31. Melody
    December 9, 2010 at 10:50 am (7 years ago)

    I love Susan’s Artwork!! I’ve always been fond of whimsical art, especially when it features a cat!!!

    Would love to be entered in the contest :))

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm (7 years ago)

      Good luck, Melody! Thanks for entering.

      Reply
  32. Debbie
    December 9, 2010 at 2:21 am (7 years ago)

    I LOVE Susan Faye’s work! Please count me in your contest :-).

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2010 at 9:54 am (7 years ago)

      Good luck, Debbie!

      Reply
  33. Ducky Doo
    December 9, 2010 at 1:31 am (7 years ago)

    Those are kewl. I’ve been following the wonderful works of Susan Faye for a couple years now.

    I’ll get the human to post this on her facebook (since I don’t have one of those) and on my twitter in a minute then come back and post again here when it is done.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2010 at 9:54 am (7 years ago)

      Thanks for getting your human to tweet and post about the giveaway, Ducky Doo.

      Reply
  34. Pam
    December 9, 2010 at 1:18 am (7 years ago)

    I descovered Susan Faye’s art on Facebook one day and have always loved it. I currently have 2 indoor cats, Shadow who was a stray, and Daphne we got from the shelter. Love them both!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2010 at 9:53 am (7 years ago)

      Strays and shelter cats make the best pets, don’t they, Pam?

      Reply
  35. Sandy Y
    December 8, 2010 at 11:24 pm (7 years ago)

    I just discovered both your blog and Susan’s work today. Both are wonderful! I love her Maine Coon pendants…they remind me of my Maine Coon, Kashmir, that I lost to cancer.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2010 at 9:53 am (7 years ago)

      I’m so glad you found us, Sandy, and I’m so sorry about Kashmir. What a wonderful name for a Maine Coon.

      Reply
  36. Morgen
    December 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm (7 years ago)

    I would like to copy parts of this interview for inclusion in a special issue of my e-zine a few days before Christmas. Of course, a link to your site is included. Is this feasable and would you be willing to give me an exchange link?

    Reply
  37. Jeanne
    December 8, 2010 at 8:27 pm (7 years ago)

    I was unfamiliar with Susan’s work but I am now a fan! It’s all so beautiful! I’ve visited her blog and etsy store. I’m going to have to buy some things!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 8:51 pm (7 years ago)

      I’m glad you discovered Susan’s work through this post, Jeanne.

      Reply
  38. Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors
    December 8, 2010 at 8:11 pm (7 years ago)

    I love your stuff, Susan, it’s happy and bright and colorful and usually involves my favorite animal; the cat!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm (7 years ago)

      Susan’s paintings are so joyful, aren’t they, Mimi?

      Reply
  39. Penelope CatFromHell
    December 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm (7 years ago)

    Me loves Susan’s Art! We see her work on the hive and follows her. Me thinks that my Daddy should get one of me and him.
    Me readed some of your posts and me is a follower of you now too!
    Thank yous for thegreat post!
    >^..^<
    Nellie Belle (aka Penelope the CatFromHell)

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm (7 years ago)

      Penelope, I think you would look great in a painting by Susan. Thanks for following the Conscious Cat!

      Reply
  40. Nicola
    December 8, 2010 at 4:31 pm (7 years ago)

    Wow, what wonderful artwork 🙂

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2010 at 9:52 am (7 years ago)

      Isn’t it beautiful, Nicola?

      Reply
  41. Ace
    December 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm (7 years ago)

    Great artwork! Cats rule!!!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm (7 years ago)

      Yes to both!

      Reply
  42. Anna
    December 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm (7 years ago)

    I’ve recently discovered Susan’s wonderful artwork on Etsy and I LOVE it!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE cats!!!!!! And her amazing artwork captures the essence of love between us catladies and our feline friends in such a wonderful way! Through her blog I discovered your lovely blog too… and now you have a new follower! I’m going to “study” your blog thoroughly, it looks great and full of great information!

    Love from Torino, Italy
    Anna

    PS: I love tortoiseshells :)!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm (7 years ago)

      I’m so glad you found my blog, Anna – I hope you’ll find lots of things you enjoy here!

      Reply
      • Anna
        December 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm (7 years ago)

        Thank you for a really WONDERFUL blog, Ingrid!!! I’ll be coming back again and and again! Keep on the great work!!!!!!!
        xoxo

        Reply
  43. Luanne
    December 8, 2010 at 10:52 am (7 years ago)

    I love Susan Faye’s work! I’ve purchased a few things from her this past year and have been very happy with everything. She’s a great artist! 🙂

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm (7 years ago)

      Isn’t she wonderful, Luanne? Thanks for tweeting about the giveaway!

      Reply
  44. GracieShelter
    December 8, 2010 at 9:54 am (7 years ago)

    I also love the man, woman, cats and dog singing! The dog looks like our Bear-Bear! Happiness can’t be helped when looking at Susan’s creations! What a wonderful gift she has!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm (7 years ago)

      I agree, Gracie, you can’t help but smile when you look at Susan’s art.

      Reply
  45. Rumpy Drummond
    December 8, 2010 at 7:54 am (7 years ago)

    I love that piece you posted of the man and woman and cats and dog singing. In my mind I hear the joyful noise they must all send forth into the Universe. Animals have helped me create my own joyful noise, and I see the joy in Susan’s work. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm (7 years ago)

      I love the singing piece, too, Rumpy – it immediately made me think of joyful carolers.

      Reply

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