Hi Marjorie. Its just great getting to chat with you. Thanks for agreeing to an interview. To get us started off, at what age did you know you would be an artist?
From the moment my toddler hands first grasped a crayon I was in love with drawing.
How did you get into being a coloring book artist?
I had painted a series of cats, called Kleo Kats ™ in acrylics. Kleo Kats are covered in flowers and patterns, partly inspired by the great master, Gustav Klimt. I enjoyed coloring in the details and one day thought, "these cats would be fun for others to color in too." My highly detailed style seemed to be a natural for coloring books. So I did some line drawings adapted from the paintings and sent them to Dover Publications.
The editor agreed that those drawings would make a good coloring book. My first book, Creative Cats, was an immediate success and became a worldwide bestseller. When I followed it with Owls, another bestseller, I knew I had an illustrative style that resonated with a wide audience. I continue to use my style for a variety of coloring book subjects.
What other forms of art do you do?
I have a body of mixed media fine art called Hidden Treasures™, which I sell online and through a gallery in which I am honored to be a permanent resident artist. These are dimensional collages on canvas that are abstract with imagery embedded within.
My commercial background includes designing textile prints for the fashion industry, creating collectible figurines and music boxes, and crafts items including paper dolls.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I am focusing on new coloring books. As an artist, creating coloring books is gratifying because it brings together my love for nature with my love for patterns. My passion for all things nostalgic finds its way into my imagery, too.
Please tell us about your work environment / studio.
My studio is a converted garage lined with bookshelves of vintage illustrated books and ephemera, mostly 1870s through 1930s. I have a couple of large desks, filing cabinets for business and reference materials, an easel area, and a drawing board. There's a sink for water and washing brushes. I have revolving caddies of colored pencils, drawers of paints of every kind imaginable, and many terra cotta garden pots filled with brushes.
My studio is unglamorous, which I prefer because I can relax and make a mess. I also surround myself with animal figurines and cute plush animals. They're often models for my drawings; they hold their poses without complaining.
What are your top 5 favorite art tools and who makes them?
For coloring book development I use Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils and Canson Vidalon Vellum.
For coloring pages I like all Prismacolor pencils, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, and Faber Castell Pitt brush tip markers.
What brand of colored pencil do you recommend for beginner colorists?
There are many good brands for beginners. It's important to use pencils that color smoothly and have good coloring power. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to learn a new skill with tools that fight against you. However, it's not wise to invest a lot of money in pencils until you know what kind you like and how much you'll be using them.
One suggestion for a fairly inexpensive, good quality starter pencil set is Staedtler 48 colored pencils. Crayola and Scholastic make inexpensive but reliable pencil sets, too. It's also helpful to buy three or four top quality pencils individually from an art supply store to try so you know the feel of top quality. Everyone has their own touch, so beginners should experiment to find what works best for them.
Don't be afraid to try pencils from the 99c store. I bought a set of twelve small pencils that perform just great. But if you get pencils that turn out to be junky, you've only spent 99c. Glue them onto a collage.
Your art style focuses on lots of small items within larger items (Large Cat / Small Peace Sign within the body etc.). What inspired that format and do the items hold a deeper meaning?
I've always loved detail. My details have details. You've heard the slogan "Less is More." My slogan is "More Is More." The small items are a departure from reality, which frees the colorist to use any colors that strike their fancy.
I add symbols that are not always apparent at first glance but are fun to discover. On a deeper level, peace signs, hearts, yin-yang, tulips, keys, sunbursts, turtles, birds, etc. are symbols that help tell uplifting stories of life.
You have done coloring books on cats, elephants, owls, fashion, foxes, pets, textiles and so much more. What is next for you and what book was the most fun to draw?
I have a personal list of themes I intend to create in the coming year, mostly imaginative animals and fanciful lore.
Every book is the most fun to draw as I'm working on it. They are each beloved children.
Your coloring book “Elegant Elephants” comes with an awesome opportunity for colorists to also help out with saving elephants, at no additional cost on top of the book. Please tell us all about how the purchase of the book will help stop illegal trafficking of ivory and to protect elephants’ lives.
We donate a portion of our net profits from the Elegant Elephants Coloring Book sales to 96 Elephants, a campaign organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society. This non-profit organization is dedicated to passing laws that protect elephant populations by making it illegal to buy and sell ivory in the United States and elsewhere in the world. I chose it because of their history of accomplishments in their stated mission, and that the charity itself is highly rated by charity evaluation organizations.
Thanks so much Marjorie for joining us here on Night Owl Coloring / Night Owl Reviews.
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