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Interview with Animal Artist Krystle Cole/American Artist Appreciation Month Series

One of the positive things about social media is that you can find interesting people and things that you may never have a chance to discover on your own. Krystle Cole is one of those artists I may never have heard of if I didn’t have the ability to do an animal artist search on Twitter. If you have thought of having your fur kid’s portrait done, or if you just like animal art, Krystle Cole Fine Art is exactly that. She is not only a fantastic artist but her answers to my interview questions show her deep and insightful connection to the work she does. I am happy to introduce you to her.

BoJ: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the reason you decided to become an artist?

Krystle Cole: I didn't really decide to become an artist. It just sort of evolved because I was having a lot of fun painting my cats. It started as a hobby while I was going to college for my Ph.D. in psychology. I was waiting for IRB approval for my dissertation research study, which took two years, and for the first time in many years, I had free time on my hands. So, I decided to learn to paint.

You always hear people saying to paint what you love. And well, I love my cats pretty much more than anything else in life. So, I started there. Then my passion for painting took over, and I painted lots of other animals. So far, I've painted portraits of over 300 different animals. My goal is to make a portrait of every type of animal. It might take me my whole life to achieve this, but I'm going to give it a try!

BoJ: What is it about animals that draws you to them as a subject for your work?

Krystle Cole: Animals are beautiful beings that we should cherish and love. They are honest, and they never lie to you or manipulate like people often do. They don't hide what they are. And even the dangerous animals are innocent in the essence of their beings. You can't say that about most humans.

I realize that this may sound like I don't like people much. But I do love people and respect them. I just think that oftentimes people put people in a higher place of importance in our world than animals. I believe this is wrong. We are all animals, all part of nature. And we all should have an equivalent right to flourish on this beautiful planet. It's sad that so many species have been lost already and have gone/are going extinct because of what humans have done to destroy their habitats.

“All in all, I hope my work reminds people of the beauty of animals. I hope my art brings people joy, and that joy connects them with a deeper part of their being. A deeper part of us that knows we are all connected.”

BoJ: How do you decide what subject you are going to paint? What inspires you?

Krystle Cole: I love to visit zoos and take photos of the animals. And these visits always inspire me to create. I paint animals in a colorful style that I call visionary impressionism. My paintings can pretty much be thought of as Impressionism 2.0. I paint the light and movement that I observe with my eyes like the classical Impressionists did, but I also paint what I feel emotionally, and sense intuitively.

Each painting focuses on a particular animal. Since animals will not hold still for me to look at them while I paint, I begin by photographing them. After I choose the best photo, I print and tape it to my wall so that the animal can “model” for me. Then I paint each painting by hand with acrylics or make digital portraits on my iPad using digital paint and paint brushes.

BoJ: Have you ever wanted to paint something, but you just couldn't get it the way you wanted?

Krystle Cole: Now, not so much. I've been painting animal portraits for around 10 years. I make both acrylic paintings and digital portraits. I'm usually always able to create what I want by using one of these mediums. But that wasn't always the case. When I first started painting there were lots of times, I had to just accept what was on the canvas, even though I knew it wasn't exactly what I had intended.

Luckily, people who view the artwork don't really know what the artist intended. So as long as an artwork looks good to the viewer, I feel like it's a success.

BoJ: How long does it take to go from concept to finished work? Do you always follow the same process, or do some pictures form more easily than others?

Krystle Cole: My digital portraits usually take only a few days. My acrylic paintings take one to two weeks. It depends on the size of the acrylic painting; the larger it is, the longer it takes. Over the years I've developed a process that I stick to when making most of my work. This streamlines the time that I put into each piece.

I make a lot of custom paintings, pet portraits for customers. And I charge a flat fee for these, so I have a predefined amount of hours I’m going to put into each piece. Since making paintings is my full-time job, I have to also think about my artwork from a business perspective and not just a creative one.

BoJ: Who is your favorite artist? What about their work speaks to you?

Krystle Cole: My favorite painting is by the impressionist Mary Cassatt. It is part of the permanent collection at the art museum in the city where I live so I’ve been able to see it in person multiple times as I've been developing my artistic style. Even though my color palettes and subjects are different, I love the way she applied paint to the canvas. There have been many times that I’ve gone to the museum to look at her painting, and then went home to try to figure out exactly how she got those particular textures and effects. Her painting has been a great teacher.

Mary Cassatt "Mother and Child" 1890

BoJ: Last question. Who was your favorite animal to paint? Why?

Krystle Cole: My favorite animal to paint is my cat, Mr. Samadhi. He is my best friend, and he usually hangs out in my studio with me while I paint. I feel such a deep, loving, spiritual connection with him. So, when I make paintings of him, I really feel that connection comes out and you can see it in the work.

This is what I love about Krystle Cole's work. She describes herself as an impressionist 2.0 but she is very diverse. Go to her site and you will see everything from Abstract to Serial works. The collage above is all Mr. Samadhi, just in different styles. The one titled Cat Tv is my favorite. As a matter of fact, I bought a print. If you would like to peruse Krystle's collection, or better yet by a piece, you can find her on the links below.

Follow her on Facebook Krystle Cole Fine Art | Facebook

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