Interview with Whimsical Cat Artist Heidi Shaulis
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
SchulmanArt: What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?
Heidi Shaulis: When I realized I could make a living as a painter! I’ve been painting for over twenty-six years now! Until 1999, it was a hobby; then when my younger son Rowan was a baby, while off for the winter at the archaeology company where I was working… I decided to try to sell my paintings on the internet. Much to my surprise, once I discovered selling on eBay, my paintings sold and I was ecstatic! It was wonderful to be able to do something I loved for a living, and be able to be at home for my two sons at the same time.
SchulmanArt: What are your inspirations?
Animals, particularly cats. Also I’m inspired by the long history of cat art; including Henriette Ronner and Louis Wain who concentrated on cats as their subject matter. There are also lots of artists from the past whose work I love and inspire me; Franz Marc, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Alice Neel among many others. Seeing the high quality of new work on the internet by other artists working today also continuously surprises me and inspires me to work hard to get better and better.
SchulmanArt: How do you stay disciplined?
I’ve been doing it long enough now that I don’t really need to be in a certain mood; I have a number of projects that I’m working on continuously, and simply work on them daily as part of my routine. For music, I have Sirius radio and usually just set it on the Spectrum and leave it there.
SchulmanArt: What is your studio space like?
I have a beautiful studio in VT that is a separate building with a cozy wood stove and a view of my garden and a 5 acre hayfield that is teeming with wildlife. However, in November I moved to North Jersey to be with my boyfriend (reunited after 23 years), and so that my son can have more freedom by being in a town where he can walk to school, etc…instead of 14 miles out of town like our place in VT. Currently I’m working in the living room, though I have an opportunity to participate in a studio share at the Monroe Center for the Arts in Hoboken, NJ and might do it if I can afford it, as Hoboken has a vibrant arts community, and I’d love to have a studio where clients can come see me.
SchulmanArt: I love your tuxedo cat and tabby cat themes since we just adopted a tuxedo cat and we are also in love with my sister in law’s orange tabby. Who are the cats in your life and do they keep you comany while you create?
Heidi Shaulis: Charlie is my main muse; he is a very chubby tuxedo cat with the sweetest, most gentle temperment of any cat I’ve ever known. My orange/buff tabby is Willy and he loves Charlie and follows him everywhere. Harry is my other tuxedo; he is more playful than the others and the best hunter. Thistle is my 4th; she’s a longhair gray tabby and avoids the boys as much as possible. Since I’m working at home, they are ever-present in that subtle way that cats have of taking over their environment. Charlie and Thistle were from the Providence Animal Rescue League, Willy was a barn kitten and Harry was a free kitten. So many animals need homes that I always adopt…though a couple of times they have chosen me by just showing up at the door.