Heather Mattoon Talks to Us About Cats in Clothes

 |  Oct 28th 2011  |   441 Contributions


We first ran into Heather Mattoon's Cats in Clothes portraits at a Fab.com sale, and marveled at each kitty's thoughtful expression and carefully chosen wardrobe. Since then she's been featured everywhere from I Can Haz Cheezburger to her local newspaper.

We caught up with Heather for the scoop behind the portraits, and she was kind enough to offer to give away one of her darling prints on top of chatting with us.

For a chance to win, wander over to Heather's Etsy shop, have a look at her 8.5-by-11-inch Framed Fine Art prints, and leave a comment at the end of this post telling us which of her cats is your favorite.

We'll draw a random winner on Friday, Nov. 4.

And now, here's Heather! 

Catster: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to start?

Heather: Absolutely! I have been painting for about 20 years now, and have been an artist ever since I could pick up crayons. It has been my driving force in life.

Catster: So, cats in clothes. A good deal of people think these two things should be kept far apart from each other — what compels you to put them together?

Heather: I wanted to paint something that was interesting and made people smile and think. I have two cats, and only once have I put something on the older one. It was a legwarmer of mine: I cut out two holes for her front legs and made her a little sweater. It was sad to see her become immobilized and disoriented!! But the imagery always stuck with me as hilarious.

Catster: Most of your cat paintings appear to have a backstory — is each cat based on a person you know, or do you concoct these histories yourself?

Heather: Once the cat comes together, I really just look at him/her and they tell me their story. It happens so fast and then I just stick with that, my first thoughts!

Catster: Do you use cats you know as a reference when you come up with faces/facial expressions?

Heather: I am often sent pictures of cats and come across photos online. I also live in a neighborhood that is ruled by kitties! So when I have a photo that captures the face just right for me, I use it.

Catster: What is your creative process like from idea to portrait?

Heather: It really starts with the cat. When I see the cat that I want to use as a model, I paint them first. Then I think about what they should be wearing and layer that on top, et voila!

Catster: Do you have any cats of your own? We'd love to hear more about any feline muses in your life.

Heather: I got my first cat, Megan, three years ago, after an accident that I had which left me a paraplegic. I needed to take care of someone else in order to stay positive about my life, and she is my angel! She is a shorthair, black with a white stripe that starts on her nose and goes down to her chin and into her white belly! More recently, I adopted a little kitten, all black, and we named him Edgur.

Catster: A lot of your cats appear to be in business attire. Is this just by chance, or do you think cats mean business?

Heather: Cats definitely mean business, but that was not something that I meant to emphasize. I really wanted them to be wearing stylish attire like fine Italian suits and jackets.

Catster: Do you ever paint happy cats? Is it just us or do they seem a little moody?

Heather: The cats that I have painted so far are all taken from the cat face that I painted from. One interesting thing about cats is that they do not have very many obvious facial expressions — they are very subtle. It looks as if they may be sad or angry because they aren't smiling, but they are not. They are pondering this and that, I'm sure!

Catster: What do you paint when you aren't making cat art?

Heather: I actually paint birds when I am not painting cats!

Catster: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Heather: I would like to express how exciting this project is for me. The response that my paintings get from people is amazing. I feel like the paintings are able to reach out to so many, and in a positive way, and I love seeing happy people!

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