My special guest today is Gin Lammert of Pulaski, Iowa. I had the good fortune to meet Gin during my summer travels. She is known for her ability to capture the essence of individuals and animals in portrait work. Her work has evolved to an impressionistic style of painting and is enjoyed by corporate and private collectors in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Welcome Gin! Why did you become an artist?
My parents made sure I was introduced to all the humanities…, dance, fine art and crafts. The ability to capture the likeness of what I see came easy for me at a very early age. I think the driving force behind my wanting to be a visual artist is I have the strong desire to bring joy and beauty into others’ lives. Creating pictures is the best way for me to do this.

Collectors refer to your work as “Treasures from the Heart”. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s because I’ve been successful at not only capturing the likeness of whatever I paint, but able to convey its essence as well. “Heart” refers to how passionate I am about creating something more than just a pretty picture.

How has your artist career and animal connections been intertwined?
I believe all living things are connected. I was blessed with the experience of being responsible for another life, again, at a very early age. We had dogs, cats, birds, and even for a very short time, an alligator, as household pets while growing up.

Whenever I start to second guess the career path I’ve chosen, God sends me a message thru the animals I come in contact with. This isn’t as farfetched as it may sound to some. Mankind has relied on symbolism since the beginning of time. Animals have played an important role guiding us by triggering an emotion of some sort that forces us to stop and think of our actions.

The best example I can give you ……one day I was driving to town, thinking of buying art supplies and wasn’t sure if I should or not. Just as I was having this self dialog, a hawk swooped down in front of the car and I had to hit the brakes or it would have hit my windshield. The Hawk definitely got my attention. When I made it to my destination, I found a book called “Animal Speaks” and read about the symbolism and meaning for a hawk. This information helped clarify what action I needed to take. I was debating on trying a different medium to create a custom work for a client. I ended up purchasing oil paints and canvas, something I had never created with before, and the client was more than pleased with the end result. It was the right choice for the project.

What challenges you when painting or drawing animals?
My goal is to capture the emotion of what the animal or person is feeling at a specific time and place. To convey not only the physical likeness, but the personality as well is always an invigorating challenge.

I understand you have a cat named Wabbles. Please tell us about her.
She was part of a litter born in our barn late one fall. The mother had contracted some virus during her pregnancy and this affected this kitten’s part of the brain that controlled sense of balance. She didn’t walk straight and fell over most the time. My husband and I believed she wouldn’t survive outdoors during our winter so we brought her into our home. We named her Wabbles. She is a calico and is now 6 years old and weighs around 5 lbs.

What has surprised you the most about living with Wabbles?
Learning what pure Joy is! She’s always been a happy little one. We thought we needed to create some sort of foam helmet for her at first. When running too fast, she sometimes misses her destination and crashes into things. She doesn’t do it as often now as she did when she was younger.

In watching her stop, shake her head a little, then see her take off again to play some more has definitely taught me about that old saying of when you fall, just jump back up and dust yourself off. Wabbles has learned how to adapt to her environment and skill level. We have too by knowing to get out of her way when she wants to be on the couch. Instead of jumping, she uses her claws to hold on to the edge of the chair or bed and pulls herself up. (Yes, she sleeps with us at night, curled up on top of the covers between my husband and me)

Sometimes she over shoots her landing. Other times she may “look” like she did but gives you the idea that whatever the result of her action, that was what she meant to do in the first place! Wabbles doesn’t jump down from furniture like other cats do either. She sets her claws in the fabric, then swings her back legs down to the floor. I have to admit, I’m spoiled having a cat that won’t jump up on my kitchen counters or table

I know this isn’t politically correct, but remember the saying “walks like a drunken sailor”? Now, picture the staggered walk …not as a person doing it, but a cat. That’s my darling little girl’s walk.

The Hunter

What was the inspiration for The Hunter (which by the way I am enjoying in my office) and Brothers/Sisters/Cousins?
The inspiration for the pastel painting called “The Hunter” came from visiting a friend’s home. This yellow striped cat was watching all that was going on around her with an eagle eye. I imagined her being a very sufficient hunter of mice.

I also created a pastel painting called “Brothers/Sisters/Cousins”. We had several wild cats that made our barn their home. One spring three mommas had their litters all about the same time and put the babies together in a box we had by our back door. Eleven kittens all together. I made the box look like a basket in the painting. I didn’t know momma cats would do this, but since then, I’ve been told this is common amongst wild ones. Needless to say, I couldn’t help but take as many photos, for future reference material for paintings, as I could.

What projects are you currently working on?
I have a few Soft Pastel Portrait paintings to complete by November. I’ve also been creating small (5″x7″ to 9″ x12″) sized pastel floral and wine related still life paintings for up and coming shows at the Earl May Store in Ottumwa, IA and Tassel Ridge Winery in Leighton, IA. I also have a one day pastel still life workshop coming up November 6th, 2010 in Cantril, IA

I’ve just created a Fan page of my work on Facebook—Gin Lammert Fine Art. A few years ago several artists began a movement of creating a small painting-a-day and posting them online. This is something I’m working toward doing as well.

Thank you Gin for sharing your art career and the role of cats in your life. I appreciate you being with Catnip Connection today. I wish you continued success.

To see more of Gin’s work, please visit Gin Lammert.

Bountiful Blessings!