A Recent Interview with Adele, the Artist Behind Whimbletails™
Adele is the creator of Whimbletails™, a collection of whimsical yet highly realistic animal and botanical art. The Whimbletails™ company offers multi-category line of products incorporating her paintings, with such items as art prints, stationery, home decor, collectibles, and a variety of gifts.
Q. First things first. Tell us about where Whimbletails™ art is created and the Whimbletails™ Workshop itself.
A. The Studio and Workshop are located in a century-old stone dairy barn surrounded by ancient apricot trees, overgrown sunflower beds, and long-vanished flower gardens grown wild. The barn is set on a hill, overlooking fields full of wildlife that run down to a rocky, tree-lined riverbed. My studio must have once been used for milk storage – I can’t keep the two resident cats out!
Q. Where did the idea for Whimbletails™ - cute animals behaving like humans - come from?
A. Like most artists at the beginning of their careers, I was casting about for my own style and inspiration. One day, I came across some Medici Society postcards featuring the “dressed animal” art of Margaret Tempest, Molly Brett, Racey Helps, and others. I was absolutely thunderstruck that here were elaborately detailed, finished paintings - not just simple watercolor illustrations – of animals having human adventures. I knew immediately that it was something that I wanted to do, but of course, I had ideas that I had to be “serious.” So it was a number of years and a lot of other artistic paths taken before I decided to give my Whimbletails™ concept a try. And I’ve never looked back!
Q. Where does the cute name come from?
A. The words, “whimsy”; “thimble” to imply small; and “tails” to suggest not only nature’s creatures, but also tales, as in stories.
Q. Whimbletails™ has a very different look from any other children’s animal art out there, past or present. What makes it different from, say, Beatrix Potter’s ”Peter Rabbit” or the work by other animal character illustrators, like the artists published by the Medici Society?
A. Several things. First off, no little human clothes allowed! A mama mouse might be wearing a skirt, but it will be made from flower petals. A frog can have a hat, but it will be a found object, like a bottle cap. Also, while I am not a naturalist like Potter was, I think my experience as a professional scientific illustrator is quite evident. As you can see, I use bright, realistic colors and more defined edges, with a great deal of detail. I do occasionally indulge in a little “artistic license” - especially when it comes to insects! – but it seems no matter how hard I try to “stick to the facts,” my animals come out looking quite cute. However, for the most part, the Whimbletails™ world is all very real to me, and I often feel as though I’m not really making this stuff up!
Q. So you’re a trained artist…
A. Yes, I’ve shown in a number of galleries and three museums, including the Smithsonian. I have a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, specializing in Painting, and a Certification from Harvard University in scientific illustration, archaeology to be exact. These skills combined make for paintings that are painterly yet scientifically observed. Add to that my lifelong, romantic belief in the possibilities of the unknown, and you get Whimbletails™!
Q. Tell us a little more about the company itself.
A. Actually, Whimbletails™ started off very small and very hands-on, just myself and my husband and business partner, Gene Dunne, producing and marketing everything ourselves. But as the company and our customer base grew, it became more and more difficult to do everything ourselves. We eventually decided to turn most of the maufacturing end over to Zazzle, taking advantage of their extensive on-demand manufacturing technology. We feel blessed by Whimbletails™ acceptance in the marketplace, and by having the opportunity to share it with the many wonderful people we’ve met along the way.