Interview with the artist - Heidi from Fur and Feathers Art

Today I want to introduce you to Heidi. Her shop name Fur and Feathers Art caught my attention right away, how could it not?
Let's jump right in now.
Tell us a little about who you are and where you come from.

Hello, I am Heidi Kunkel. I am an animal and bird artist. I am originally from Alaska and grew up in Wyoming before moving to Oregon in the early 90s.  I am the youngest of 5 kids.  1st half of my childhood, we grew up in a big A Frame style house my dad had designed. Great memories of playing in the street, shooting hoops in the driveway, tons of friends, school yard, ice skating, roller skating, etc.
Our family (and cat) would travel often in our Winnie (Winnebago). We traveled all around Alaska. All from glaciers to clam digging. We even traveled to the lower 48 visiting family as well. Wyoming was nice too. Grew up in a motel my folks owned. Lived in Jackson Hole. Overall, I am blessed with my upbringing. My parents have been married for 50 years! How many can say that?
In my spare time I volunteer at our local cultural center. I help teach drawing and painting to kids of all ages.

What's your craft/art and how did you get to do it in the first place?
I am a pencil artist. I use anything from black graphite to color pencils. I describe my work as black and white lifelike illustration with dashes of color.  I pretty much began drawing when I was very little. My dad would let us use the back of his architect paper. My first drawings were of sea life, and mostly Alaskan animals. Pretty much looking at encyclopedias.  In Junior High I was really into horses and anything about them. I seriously considered a career, even riding them.  I drew plenty horses with jockeys. By the time I was teenager, MTV was big and I saw the band Heart and one of their videos. BAM. Bye horses, enter rock music. I saw beauty in the Wilson Sisters and drew Heart all the time. I began to discover other music and drew other artists (mostly woman singers, guitarists). I used to draw bands and send the art to them. I made it into a few fanzines back then as well. As I did more portrait work I did try and sell some watercolor postcards of mine. Since we lived in a mountain range, the Tetons would sell more than music drawings.  When I was in high school I always took art and painting classes and to be honest, us students had a fantastic art teacher. Craig Fleuter. I found out recently, he had passed away. I was very sad. He was always encouraging. I always remember. “ Don’t be afraid of the paint!” When I was a senior, submitted some of my portrait work for a scholarship. Learned to make slides of my work. I got the first art scholarship offered from our local Lion’s Club. At that time I was also working part time in an Art Gallery for an artist, Penni Anne Cross. Really behind the scenes of handling valuable prints, packaging, shipping them. Good Times! The people I worked for were wonderful. I eventually became their babysitter. lol 
I didn’t want to attend college right away, but my friend (RIP this year) at the time was going to visit a college in the state that was supposed to have a really good art program. I wanted to study Graphic Design and do something in the music business. I only spent one semester at the college, came home and took night courses in Fine Art. Found my calling in Fine Art. I learned so much. I have a bit of a background in figure study and watercolor painting. Strange, people see illustration in my art now. Since I switched to animals and birds, people ask me more for portraits. lol

I think this is one of the most asked questions – where does your inspiration come from?

Hmm. Now? Music and Nature. All kinds of music lifts me up. I listen to music sometimes when I draw. You go into a flow. I’ve said “ pencil in right hand on paper, with left fist pumping in the air.” That is me. 
Nature is all around us. I take it all in. The birds singing, the wind blowing through the trees. Shadows of trees on the ground make great patterns. Cloud formations.  Looking out my back window.
Beauty in the not so beautiful things, tiny things. Spirituality.  I like to take in a few different religions. They keep me grounded and at peace. What can I say? I am a daydreamer.

What is the story behind your shop name? In your case I am also curious if you have animals of your own?

I was trying to think of something more creative and recognizable. I draw animals and I draw birds. Furry friends. Feathered Friends. I grew up with cats, but back in the late 90s our last cat, Rocky had diabetes and was sick for a long time. We made the decision to have him put to sleep. He was such a sweet kitty. He was an orange tabby.  He was like a leech, but a snuggle bunny. My mom decided no more pets. With Rocky it was difficult. Honestly, my dad and I would not mind a pet. I miss all our kitties. I do have surrogate pets. I sometimes house sit for my older brother and his wife. They have 4 dogs and a cat! Auntie Heidi is here!!

Tell us a fun thing about yourself.

I am a fun gal. I have a great sense of humor. Take the bad, make a joke. I am always making my friends and family laugh. I am a huge horror movie fan. Love to travel. I’ve been to Europe twice. People don’t first see Rock/Metal Girl. I have a tattoo on my upper right arm. Says Rocker on the top and below, a cat paw. When I was younger, considered being a rock singer. I still have old rock posters on my bedroom wall. Is that enough fun to say about myself? I am good at imitations too.  oh. I like to have conversations with animals. I imitate bird sounds and calls. I try and thank my feathered pals for their time.

Do you do other creative things, if yes, what?
I love photography. Love capturing nature’s beauty and all surroundings. I love to paint in acrylics. Right now I am enjoying clay. I am starting on making little decorative birdhouses.  I use to write poetry and lyrics.
Which one of your pieces is your absolute favorite? Which one was the hardest to make and why?

Oh My! Not sure!  If I HAD to pick one. My Male Anna’s Hummingbird sitting at a feeder. I took the actual photo and drew it. It was a super quick shot. He came so fast and I did sort of a back hand shot with the camera. It makes me smile... Hardest? Let’s say, the hardest was never finished. I painted this HUGE (almost as big as myself and I am almost 5 ft) canvas of  Stevie Nicks. She is sitting on a grand piano with a tambourine in her hand. I gave up and I was almost done too. 

Is there someone whom you admire and who inspires you?

I admire Rembrandt, Bruce Lee, Photographer Edward S. Curti.
My dad inspires me. He is an artist himself. He has designed homes for many many years. He still does everything by hand in this computer age. He has held onto his early art. He was a fine illustrator and painter. He(and mom) have always supported me and find new avenues for me and my art. Children inspire me. The ones I help teach. You can have the most awful day and they can make you smile. I see myself in some as they talk about life, their art. They can draw or paint the most simple piece and have a huge back story to it. LOL I have had a few come up to me after class and hugged me. It melts my heart.

Even though she is a different kind of artist. Singer Doro Pesch. I have loved her style and songs for years. She puts 100% into her music, her voice, her look. She loves her fans. She is like this tiny woman with a huge voice and when you hear her speak it is so soft and her accent is rich. I am of German descent (Alsace-Lorraine although there are also Austrian and Slovenian roots) and learned a little German from her songs. I met her in ’08. I cried.  She was unbelievably sweet!

I have been blessed to have met and known people throughout my life. I am surprised sometimes how and why I have met some. Some famous, some not. When it comes to inspiring, my friend Cherie has been wonderful. I met her through a rock magazine sending for her band’s demo. Her and I struck up a great sisterly friendship. Her husband is great as well. They have a band. HGMC HarleygirlMotorcycleClubband. Check them out! I can say there was a period I wasn’t drawing much and she was the one that told me to. “Do it.” She was one of my first commissions. They gave me opportunities with early band logos. I was a band secretary.

If you had free choice of just one supply you can use for your craft/art, what would you be dreaming of, no matter how expensive?

Hmm. Does an art studio count? (Absolutely! I know a lot of creative people who would love to have one!)

Do you sell online, if yes, where can we find you?

Yes, I do.
I can also be found on Fine Art America.
I have a photography site at Bird Photography by Heidi Kunkel.
My Facebook page is here.
Last but not least I am on Art Wanted.

Famous last words ;-) Is there anything else you want to tell the world out there now?

I want to thank Cat for offering this interview. It came at a great time and put a smile on my face.  I enjoy her work as well. Thank you! The same week I was asked to become part of our local Tuesday Market to be “Artist of the Week.” Art is looking UP.

I love customer orders. If anyone has any questions regarding that, or my art in particular, don’t hesitate to contact me.

We all get in “ruts” but never give up. Never stop learning. NEVER follow a trend. I have had people say I should do this, do that. NO I have worked hard to create my style. Why would I change? People now know my style of art and why they like it. DO it for YOU. I admit I am not great at accepting criticism, but don’t take it hard.  Volunteer! Network! You’ll never know what you can learn from other artists. Ask for advice.

Last. I found this quote: It is so true.  “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams.
Thank you, Heidi, for this interesting interview! I hope people will take the time to browse through your beautiful work!

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