In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. These works could range from short stories to visual art to music and more! Today, Julie Kitzes (she/her) will be sharing her piece Panic Cattack.
Julie took the time to participate in a Q+A with The Layered Onion, but before we share the dialogue, here’s a little bit more about Julie:
Julie grew up in a remote wooded area of western Canada where she became accustomed to living in the wilderness and developed a deep respect for animals and the environment. She’s loved drawing and creating since the time she could hold a pencil, and would often take inspiration from observing the natural world around her. She originally set out to study veterinary medicine, but when a neurological condition left her too ill for the physical demands that entailed, she decided to pursue art seriously. After enduring six brain surgeries, Julie graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration in December of 2017. Currently residing in northern Colorado, she uses her personal work to examine the connections between life, death, growth, and decay, as well as the various plights faced by our natural world. Julie specializes in pet portraiture and animal art, and believes in creating impactful work that touches her audience while keeping art affordable and accessible to everyone.
Now on to the Q+A portion…
I love the inspiration of nature and animals in your pieces. I’m a cat person myself and love how you captured emotions and overlapped different parts of the cat body. It captures the complexity of emotion. How’d you approach painting this piece? What was your inspiration?
I approached this piece by sketching out different faces/poses on tracing paper and playing with layering them until I got a composition I liked. Once I solidified it I traced it onto bristol board and finished it with watercolors and colored pencil. I really wanted to capture the range of emotions encompassed by anxiety, and give it a frantic energy. My inspiration comes from having panic attacks myself, but also watching my cat Roger experience anxiety and restlessness when a family of barn swallows had decided to nest right outside our apartment door one spring.
Do you use live subjects for all of your work or also rely on some abstract?
I tend to blend the two in a lot of my work. I feel adding abstract or surreal elements makes the work more interesting.
What led you to the project of representing anxiety in pets?
This actually was a rejected piece of work for a pet anxiety clothing company, so I retained the rights to use it personally, and now it’s part of a bigger project I’m working on.
Are there any other series like this that drew on similar inspiration?
Yes! So the bigger project I’m working on is an illustrated book about mental health with my cat Roger as the main subject. He guides the reader through everything from emotional regulation to the importance of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with others.
Anything else you would want to say about this work?
I’m excited to keep working on this project and to keep producing more pieces like this for it. I really hope the book, once finished, is able to be of some help to even a few people.
Any websites or links you’d like us to share?
Absolutely. My work can be seen at www.juliekitzes.com, or on Instagram at @juliekitzes. My book has it’s own Instagram where you can get behind the scenes peeks and tidbits from the book, and you can follow along with that one at @butwithcats. I’m always open to commissions and do a lot of pet portraits, so people can feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] for more info or even just to say hi!
In addition to pet portraits, Julie works on a wide variety of diverse projects, including but not limited to children’s literature to custom tattoos to hand-painted needlepoint canvases!
Know a cat lover? Share Julie’s adult coloring book – Cats Being Dicks.
Julie also maintains a blog, where she explores her experience with mental health and wellness and how it interacts with and influences her art. Her post on ADHD is particularly accessible, honest, and enlightening. Julie is currently working on a book project.
Thanks for sharing, Julie!