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A Rare Vintage

The Cat Whisperer

Diane Hoeptner

By: Nastasha Sartore


It wasn’t until a year ago that artist Diane Hoeptner began taking cats seriously. Before this, she only painted her cats as a “break” from her area of expertise, floral still life, a genre that has brought her considerable success. Employing a combination of colour pencil and watercolour, Hoeptner’s award-winning still lifes have been featured in public collections and reproduced as posters and cards for Editions Limited and American Greetings, respectively.

So what brought about Hoeptner’s change of focus? Well, in the midst of painting her own cats in between the usual floral arrangements, she began to notice that she could capture her cats’ distinct personalities. Entranced by the “new dimension” lent to her paintings, she began painting cats in earnest. Hoeptner says, for her, cats are “like animated sculpture,” inspiring whether caught in sunlight or in silhouette.

Hoeptner’s creative process generally begins with a search through her photo archives for one that she describes as “[begging] to be painted.” She then designs her painting around this photo, although sometimes she works backwards, beginning with an idea and then looking for some kind of reference material.

From here, Hoeptner focuses on creative elements like colour, gesture, and pattern. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Hoeptner constantly strives to improve her art and progress as a painter. Indeed, this is one of the many reasons she continues painting cats because, as she notes, capturing them in a way that “isn’t reduced to sentiment and cliché is a challenge.” Hoeptner and her husband have two cats, Layla and Coco, who provide the artist with creative inspiration in different ways. According to Hoeptner, Layla is “both princess and predator,” while Coco is much more cautious. “Living with cats is never dull,” says Hoeptner. “Our cats are an endless source of amusement and inspiration.”

Hoeptner posts new paintings almost daily on her blog (dianehoeptner.blogspot.com) and accepts commission inquiries.

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