Humorous Contemporary Cat Art: Interview with Tamsin Lord
One of our readers, Teresa, recently emailed me to show me her new painting from Tamsin Lord – she waited two years for it – but is totally in love. I have seen photos of Teresa’s kitties through the years and I think that Tamsin really caught the essence of each kitty in the painting. It was really neat, so I wanted to re-run this interview.
Originally posted July 9, 2014
Tamsin Lord BA Hons S.O.F.A.
I’ve always adored cats, and our family felines even featured in some of my first drawings as a child! At 19 I left home to study Sculptural Ceramics, and a few years after graduating I set up a hand-made greetings card business with fun animal themes. My designs were inspired by our numerous family pets, and I sold these cards through galleries, gift retailers and at craft fairs.
Some years later, my artist husband suggested I consider a format of miniature art called ACEOs, which stands for Art Cards, Originals and Editions which are 2.5”x3.5” in size. They really suited my style, and I started experimenting with cheeky cat themes which had always been my favourite greeting card designs. So began my very popular range of ‘Fiendish Feline’ miniature art ~ which is still growing today! Over time I started to receive larger scale commission requests, I enjoyed doing these so much I decided to paint my own larger format series. It was shortly afterwards that I joined the Society of Feline Artists (S.O.F.A.) and was thrilled to be awarded the Society’s ‘Stephanie Kay Manchipp Memorial Award’ for new members. I have since become a full member as it’s such a great opportunity to meet artists who love using cats as their subject, it’s also very exciting to be involved in the Society’s annual London show which runs for a month at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery in Waterloo.
In addition to the S.O.F.A. show, I also exhibit at a number of cat shows during the year ~ these are great fun to do as in addition to promoting my art, I get the chance to see so many wonderful breeds up close and chat to their owners.
Of course, no artist is complete without their muse and mine comes in the form of two Exotic Shorthairs (both of who are thoroughly fiendish!) Pumpkin and Star provide us with countless hours of fun, infinite inspiration and we love them to bits.
How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
It’s down to my mum, she had a particular love for Siamese and was a hobby breeder, we would literally spend hours mesmerised by the kittens watching them play! My first cat was my 13th birthday present, her name was Marigold and she was a seal point Siamese ~ she was my original fiendish feline and was dearly loved and thoroughly spoilt right through to her dotage, she lived to the ripe old age of 23!
Please describe your creative process.
I use sketches to work up compositions ideas, then use Designers’ Gouache on watercolour paper for the actual paintings. Gouache paint is an opaque water colour which produces crisp, vibrant colours which suits my style perfectly. I then combine with Artist’s water colours as this enables me to produce controlled, colourful paintings with elements of fluidity and soft texture.
Do you sell your paintings in a local store in your area?
I have a range of Fiendish Feline giclee prints that are produced and sold in a local framing gallery, but I don’t sell original paintings locally.
Do your customers ever give you new ideas for paintings?
All the time! My commission paintings are very much a collaborative and fun experience. Each is unique and with every one I learn something new ~ I absolutely love doing them.
Have you painted Ragdoll cats?
I have received many commissions for Ragdolls. It’s always a real treat as I adore painting them, all that fabulous fur and those gorgeous ruffs ~ they are perfect Fiendish Feline models!
Do you have a blog?
Not a blog, but I have a Facebook page which I keep up to date with photos of paintings that I’m working on ~ I also find it a great opportunity to engage with people and share my art.
Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
Commissions are always welcome, although I do have a 15 month waiting list at the moment. I offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee so returns would be refunded in full, although I’m happy to say I’ve never had anything returned. I also have a range of open edition prints that are available to buy direct from my web site.
Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
They are all very special, but I recently painted a commission of a rescue cat called Tex who particularly touched my heart. The family he is with now are so devoted to this incredibly special boy, but he had a very dark past where he suffered the most appalling abuse which resulted in permanent health problems, including him going off into trance like episodes. It’s part of who he is now, so we embraced this hippy trippy flower power kitty foible in his portrait’s expression, also his favourite thing is to lounge in the boudoir, so that’s where we portrayed him. His good looks also stole the heart of my girl Pumpkin, she plonked herself on his sketch and refused to move for an hour!