Where are you from?
Northern Indiana, the South Bend area.
Where are you currently?
What university did you attend? What degree did you get and are you using that degree for your current profession?
I graduated from the Herron School of Art and Design with a BFA in General Fine Arts and a minor in Art History. I wanted to be an illustrator, so I took as many drawing, illustration, and printmaking classes as I could. I now work as a freelance illustrator. I'm lucky I can apply what I learned in art school directly to my career. It isn't always easy to continue to be an artist after school is over.
What is your favorite medium and why do you love it?
I love working in watercolor and pencil. Working in layers of color makes the most sense to my brain. My favorite part, though, is going back into the painting with the pencils, and making all the little details pop out.
What is the most challenging part about working with your medium of choice?
The most challenging thing is how, for the most part, once I've painted something there's no turning back, unless I want to start over. I've started trying to learn more photoshop, though, so sometimes I can change something digitally if the final product is something that will be used in print, and not as an original painting.
What is the best part about working with your medium of choice?
The best, or the worst, part are the surprises. Sometimes I make big mistakes, like lean my hand in an area that's still wet, and drag it across an area of paper where I didn't mean to have any paint at all. That can either be a disaster, or an epiphany that leads me to a new solution I never would have come up with on my own. I'm still always learning something new, with every painting I do.
I've never known a time that I didn't want to be an artist, in some capacity. As soon as I knew that could be someone's job, I wanted it. I had off years growing up, but art has always been there. It has never left me, and it never will.
What is your creative process like?
Usually I am struck with curiosity over some object, or a funny idea I get in my head. Then I'll try to do as many small quick sketches on copy paper as I can, to get it out before I forget (I'm very forgetful). Then I'll work on making the sketch at full size, sometimes collaging my sketches in photoshop to get the composition just how I want it. From there I trace the sketch onto the final paper, and jump into the painting stage. Painting is sometimes the most painful, and most procrastinated, task I do. I feel a lot of fear, even still, about making it "permanent." I don't like to make mistakes. But once I get through the painting, and can move into the drawing stage, adding in more details and shading with pencils, I start to feel really on top of it.
Tell us about your childhood.
Childhood was a pretty great time for me. My brother and I were very close, and we spent endless hours playing legos, making forts in the backyard bushes, or making fake newspapers (with interesting articles about the tomatoes growing in our garden). It was a wonderful time to which I often really really want to go back. To have no cares other than do I have enough money to buy a new Play mobile set? That would be great.
Who influenced you as an artist?
My mom is an artist, and she was always very encouraging about drawing, visiting art museums, and taking art classes in elementary and high school. So, I guess she is why art has just always been this thing in my life. I can't get rid of it.
My studio is at the Harrison Center for the Arts. I've been there for 4 years. I don't make it in to work there anywhere near as often as I'd like, but when I'm there it's one of my favorite places to be. Mostly I work at my satellite studio, which is my dining room table at home.
What dreams, thoughts and goals did you have when you got your first studio and have you achieved them?
I wanted a dedicated place for making my art; I wanted to have more regular contact with clients and other artists; I wanted to clear my house of art supplies, to be able to work at work, and do home stuff at home. The last one hasn't really happened yet.
How has having a studio helped you as an artist?
It helps me remain focused. It's so easy to become distracted by the 30 other things I need to do in a day (most of them involve dishes or laundry). It's nice to have all my things set up the way I want them all the time, and not have to worry about small fingers picking my things up and wrecking them.
When did you become a mother?
My daughter was born in 2010. After she came I was able to find a fair amount of time for work. When she was 6 months old is when I first got my studio at the Harrison Center. I was even able to start taking her with me to work at the studio, before my son was born in 2013. Since then it's been an enormous challenge, and that's when my more regular studio time was truncated. I'm hoping soon he'll be big enough that we can all take trips to the studio together, and I won't be worried about him running off down the hallway, or messing up anything on my studio-mate's side of the room.
What was your first challenge as an artist when you became a new mom?
It definitely was, and still is, finding time to be an artist. After my daughter was born, when we were getting to know her, spending lots of time doing new-mom stuff, I was mourning the loss of art in my life. It definitely felt like something major was missing. It didn't take very long before I realized I needed it, and started working it back in when I could.
Did you and do you have support from your family and friends?
Definitely. My parents never showed any fear about me going to art school instead of studying something more "promising." My husband and I have a long history of supporting the other when times get rough. Right now I spend most days with the kids, as we don't want to put them in daycare full time. Since that means I can't work at full capacity, we have to live kinda slim most of the time. But it's worth it.
When do you make your work?
These days the kids go to a sitter all day just one day a week, so I try to cram as much into that day as possible. But usually I'm working during naps, after bedtime, and the rare times when they play together nicely without needing me (which is actually happening right now)!
Has motherhood influenced your work? How so?
I'm actually not really sure how it has influenced my work. It probably has in ways I'm not able to identify right now. I've always been interested in children's book art, so that is definitely nothing new for me. Recently I've been giving myself completely over to art that is more cute, fun, and happy. I used to try to do at least some work that had more "meaning," or seemed to be more serious, or carry a message. But maybe as a result of motherhood, more serious topics have a habit of putting me on a downward spiral of worry and fear. I like to keep cotton in my ears, draw cute bunnies, and feel happy. Maybe that's wrong, but right now it's the best way I can function.
What are you currently working on?
I am ALWAYS working on personal family portrait commissions. But specifically right now I'm working on a couple of logos for people, which is something I'm trying to get into. I'm also teaching myself the Illustrator program which is helpful for the logos, and also a Top Secret project I've started with a friend. I recently, like two weeks ago, signed with an illustration agent. While they haven't gotten me any work yet since it's so soon, I hope to start getting more commercial jobs, and to maybe even have someone help me write and publish my own book. Goals!
Do you get your children involved with the making art process or do you prefer to work alone?
I definitely prefer to work alone. My brain is very easily distracted, and little kid noises sometimes drive me crazy when I'm trying to concentrate on a color palette (not to mention other people constantly bumping the table does not help when I'm painting a tiny area with a mini brush). That said, I love it when we can all sit down together and work on paintings. I think this will get better as they get older, and we can start creating stories and projects together. Sometimes I feel like a bad mom that I talk about how my kids drive me crazy, but I'm just bein' real. I know I can't be alone in that.
Did you struggle with emotions and finding a balance when you were a new mom? What were your discoveries and how did you work through those times?
Oh definitely, and it's something I'm still trying to work through.Now I'm trying to find a very very delicate balance between spending time with the kids, finding time to work, spending time with my husband, and still having time to rest and sleep. I wouldn't want to give up being a stay at home mom, but it comes with tons of sacrifice, from a lot of different angles.
How many children do you have and do you want more?
Do you have advice for mothers out there who may struggle with the mother artist balance?
I'm still living it, so I'm still struggling. But I would advise to take a good look at all those different aspects of your life, and be SURE they are working out the way you think they are. When 3 parts of your life are going really well, it's easy to not notice that the 4th part is slipping through the cracks.
Give us some tips on how to make your Etsy shop a success.
I wish I had tips for you. I've had my shop for 10 years, and while I do sell stuff there sometimes it's not a regular thing by any means.
Where did you come up with the name Cordial Kitten?
I literally opened a dictionary one day and started pointing at words. I wrote them down, and "Cordial" made the list. Somehow in my brain "Kitten" just magically followed and I ran with it.
Find Cordial Kitten at:
What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?
More and more I want to be remembered for making cute things that make people smile.
Find Cordial Kitten at:
* Some photographs were submitted by and belong to the artist.
* Some photographs were submitted by and belong to the artist.