Marjorie Sarnat has been delighting collectors for years with her mixed media art, designer collectibles, and textile designs. Recently, while coloring her Kleo Kats series, she realized others might also enjoy coloring in her cats.
Dover agreed. Since April, her book Creative Cats (in Dover’s Creative Haven series) has been flying off the shelves and getting rave reviews.
Any color can become the basis of a beautiful color story.
– Marjorie Sarnat
Marjorie agreed to answer some questions for Coloring Books for Adults, giving us a peek into the life of a full time, award-winning artist.
Q: What inspired you to start creating art for coloring books?
Marjorie: I had painted a series of cats, called Kleo Kats™, in acrylics. The cats are covered in a profusion of flowers and patterns. I enjoyed painting these, and one day thought, “these would be fun for others to color in, too.” So I created line art adapted from the paintings and sent a few sketches to Dover.
Jason Schneider agreed that my cat styling would make a good coloring book. Now I continue to develop this style for other coloring book subjects as well.
Q: How long have you been drawing?
Marjorie: Ever since I was old enough to grasp a crayon.
Q: Do you work entirely digitally, or do you prefer pen and paper when creating?
Marjorie: I prefer the intimacy of working hands-on with pen and paper.
Q: Do you make/sell other kinds of art?
Marjorie: Yes, I have a body of mixed media fine art called Hidden Treasures™, which I sell through local galleries and online. My background also includes designing textiles, giftware products, and paper dolls.
Q: When coloring your own art, what is your favorite medium?
Marjorie: For coloring my own pages I use markers for filling large areas, then shade and detail over the marker ground with a variety of colored pencils. I often use gouache to adjust colors and add accents.
Q: Do you enjoy relaxing with coloring books by other artists? If so, do you have a favorite artist or book?
Marjorie: I have not colored other artists’ books, but do admire the work of Marty Noble.
Q: What color or colors do you most love to work with?
Marjorie: Every color is my favorite. Any color can become the basis of a beautiful color story.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your art. Do you have a favorite piece that you created?
Marjorie: My coloring book art is inspired by the subject itself, to which I apply surface patterns and floating imagery. I take a cue from the subject, such as a cat, and think of the things cats might enjoy in reality or imagination. I use that imagery—flowers, fish, gumballs, etc. decoratively rather than realistically. Because I love nostalgia so much, I often include references to bygone eras. Most of all, I love lyrical, swirling line work and intricate patterns for colorists to enjoy.
In the Creative Cats Coloring Book, among my favorite pages are the cat with the robot, the cat with rag dolls, and two cuddling cats covered in paisley.
For fine art, besides the Kleo Kats series, I continue to evolve as a mixed media artist in the Hidden Treasures series. I embed bits of found treasure and vintage glass in layers of texture, color, and imagery. I usually work in acrylics on canvas. I have a few favorites, which tend to be those with hidden messages.
Q: Other than creating coloring book art, what interesting hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
Marjorie: I’ve written three books on art and two books on creativity in education. I have a fine art website www.sarnatart.com and blog, Art Studio Secrets. I have another website for fostering creative thinking in kids – www.jrimagination.com – with a blog, Raising a Creative Genius.
I avidly collect illustrated books, magazines, and ephemera from the late 1800s through 1930s, and delight in all things nostalgic.
I have two creative adult children (a daughter and a son) and a designer husband. We often enjoy artistic activities together.
Q: Have you had any memorable responses to your art work from collectors?
Marjorie: Thom Beers, CEO of Fremantle Media, USA, bought a number of pieces for himself and one as a gift for his friend, Ryan Seacrest. Carlos Khantzis, who designs interiors for commercial spaces, bought three large pieces, and several other people have collected multiples of my artworks.
There are people around the world who collect the giftware I had designed for The San Francisco Music Box Co., Enesco, and other companies. I actually have a fan club in Ukraine who collect the many porcelain bells (now retired) I designed.
Q: If you had to choose one superpower, what would it be?
Marjorie: I’d love to have the ability to “speed sleep” so I’d have more time each day to do the things I love.
Q: Who is your favorite artist?
Marjorie: I have many favorites, such as Klimt, Rembrandt, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko, Van Gogh, Mary Cassat, Mariam Wosk, Jan Brett, Margaret Ely Webb, Ellen Clapsaddle, ancient artists, folk artists, primitive artists – I love wonderful art of any genre, culture, or era.
Q: Is there some person, place or thing that inspires you when you are creating your art?
Marjorie: It varies with each piece I create, but I’m especially attracted to textures, patterns, and interactions of colors. I find inspiration in natural materials, great works of art, ancient artifacts, printed fabrics, retro imagery; anything from anywhere can spark an idea.
Check out Marjorie’s coloring books on Amazon: