Kathleen Rule is a free-spirited, self-taught pen & ink, watercolor, and gouache artist. She grew up on a farm in Iowa but now resides in Boulder, CO with her fiancé and her adorable cat. She’s a very passionate artist, who’s deeply connected to her work which comes through in every piece she creates. Her use of texture and detail always have me exploring every inch of her creations so I don’t miss a single thing. The whimsical worlds she creates are nothing less than extraordinary and I will never forget the first piece of hers I saw, Ethereal Rift. It featured various animals in a fantastical world; a narwhal floating in the sky, an octopus swimming in a waterfall with a stingray nearby and a leopard overlooking it all. Jellyfish, deer, foxes, an owl, frogs, and bats are just a few examples of what you could find in this one piece, not to mention all of the cool, imaginative flora you could find throughout. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.
How did you get into your craft/hobby?
I was quiet as a kid, always drawing. My parents were impressed because I used to paint on trees, like, cartoons, animal friends, bears, and foxes. I was kind of weird because I would always talk while I was painting; I was always immersed in my own world and I’ve always been very connected to that part of myself when I create.
What are your influences?
I’m really into fantasy and anything whimsical. Nature is also a big inspiration to me. That’s why I love Iowa so much because it’s lush and green and I imagined fairies and pixies living there. I grew up on a farm in Iowa, so I was always surrounded by nature. I’m a free spirit that thrives in my connection to the natural world.
I’m influenced by Dr. Suess as well, because he is connected to that child-like sense of playfulness.
Arthur Rackham, an illustrator turn of the century, because I love his cool, warped detail.
Alphonse Mucha for his Art Nouveau paintings.
Kay Nielsen was another illustrator during the turn of the century known for his fairy tale illustrations which are whimsical.
I love Grimm’s Fairy Tales, especially, Little Red Riding Hood (which I’ve used in some of my pieces), and I would love to go to the Black Forest in Germany to experience their source of inspiration for that story. I’ve always been attracted to the some of the darker sides of those stories. I like the contrast between innocence and darkness.
How does your creative process work? Do you have a ritual or routine you subscribe to?
I don’t really have a process. I just go with it because I get these ideas trapped in my mind and I have to just get it out. I know it’s probably bad, but I just like to start and see where it takes me. Sometimes I start something and I end up hating it and I’ll just rip it up, but I really like to just let it flow.
What do you get out of it on a deeper level?
I’m kind of an intense person so my creativity calms me down. It takes me back to my bubble when I was a kid. Adulting gets in the way and is stressful, so my art takes me back to my childhood.
I also feel deeply that you need the playful side of art. People take everything so seriously and it’s a way to connect to that playful side of yourself.
What are some of your most treasured moments regarding your creations?
Painting on the trees. We have this purple maple on our farm and I just remember these dark purple leaves and I would sit there on the branches and paint. I would make art on every branch, like, a bear getting honey out of a tree. I painted so much there that it became almost like a journal. I can still go back and see some archaic remains of my work on the trees, so it’s cool to kind of go back and relive my past in that sense.
My paintings, Pounce and Fox Crescent are also pieces I treasure because I just had to create them and get them out of my head.
My first art show was last year and it was an eye-opener because I got feedback, good and bad, and I saw how it works. It takes a lot of work, but it’s a way to get your art out and sell.
How do you handle failure? What keeps you motivated?
My fiancé is my biggest motivation because I’m always getting trapped in the adult world and he helps me get excited to create. He’s always honest with me about whether or not he likes something or not and gives me good feedback. He even made my website for me.
My mom is also a huge supporter and took on the role of supporting me as much as two parents do. She always helps me no matter what comes up with my art.
Nature also keeps me motivated because when I connect to it, it gives me inspiration.
Do you have a website? Do you sell cross-country/internationally
Yes, it’s www.kathleenrule.com
As always, we’ve attached a playlist created by the artist. Enjoy!