Interviews & Podcasts

Interview with Patty Vadalia

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Let’s get to know Patty Vadalia

Do you remember the first thing that you drew and if so what was it?

The first drawing I vividly remember was of a pink ceramic cat. My Mom gave me some blank paper, which was a treat in itself, and some crayons. I sat at the picnic table in our backyard to draw. It was summer and I think I was 6 or 7 years old. I would probably not even remember it except that Mom thought it was very good. She was always my biggest fan.

Do you have any formal art training or are you self taught?

I have had plenty of formal training. I attended my first art school in Boston, MA in 1970. After bouncing around through other art schools I finally got my BA in Illustration from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 15 years later. Since then I have been self taught as far as digital art and any computer programs I use.

What are your favorite things/topics to draw/illustrate?

As far as any of the art I have done, I have had many favorite topics (passions) over the years. I kind of bounce around here, too. I’m like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to subject matter.

Where do you create your drawings? Can you describe what your workspace looks like?

I finally have what I consider to be the perfect studio for me. It is on the northeast corner of our small home with 2 nice windows. The one I sit at (and am sitting at right now) faces the beautiful quiet small lake we live on. It is actually a large pond where no motors are allowed. I usually observe kayakers and people fishing daily while I am working. It is quite wonderful.

What is your drawing process like? Do you prefer to finish a drawing in one sitting, work on it over a number of sittings or do you switch between drawings that you are working on? Or do you do something else?

I rarely finish a drawing in one sitting. I redraw and redraw. When I was a painter (oils and acrylics) I would just keep keep forging ahead, but with the kind of drawing I am doing these days there’s a lot of back and forth. I like to start most sketches on a tracing pad in pencil. Then I can trace and trace until get the sketch right. From there I scan the image, move it into a digital drawing program (currently liking procreate on my ipad) and work on it some more. After that I move it over to photoshop, clean it up and then take it to Illustrator. It takes awhile to finish a drawing, but I am finicky about line quality. Rather obsessive about it actually.

Inspired by Blue Willow china for her first coloring book

Blue Willow inspiration – jewelery, swag and coloring book

Do you listen to music while you illustrate, if so, what are your musical tastes?

I just realized I do not have any music on at the moment. I think it is quiet most of the time. I have started to listen to classical on the radio in the morning when the music is nice and calm, but by mid afternoon it really gets ramped up and starts to make me crazy. Then I’ll switch to a country or bluegrass station.

Patty Valalia's cat

Everyone needs an office helper!

Does your workspace/environment influence your art work at all?

Totally. I cannot work unless my studio is clean. Actually I have to have my whole house clean in order to concentrate. I’m not sure that answers your question, but as I look out my window at the cardinals at the bird feeder I think that this space puts me in a nice frame of mind.

You have published a coloring book/s please tell us what drew you to the coloring book market and a bit about your book and your inspiration for it

I have always been drawn to line in art and patterns. My sister says says that I spent most of my life trying to run away from line (that is, outlining) and I have finally come home to it. She’s right. I love line art, and that is what eventually led to this coloring book. This book was inspired by the patterns in Blue Willow china and the story behind it. I have been making jewelry with broken china for years. To me, all china, old and new, while it is commercially produced, is a form of art. When I look china patterns I always think about the artists who created the designs.

The drawings for this book did not start out as coloring pages. My mother had become ill and I spent a lot of time at her bedside. This is where I decided to recreate the Blue Willow story in my own style. Later on I was approached by a publisher looking for coloring book drawings. I sent her some samples of these drawings and off we went!

Note:  You can see my review of  Patty’s Blue Willow – A Coloring Book Story here.

What do you look forward to doing in the next 6 months in the coloring world?

I am planning/researching/writing my next coloring book which I will begin after the holidays. The subject is a surprise, but it will be fun to create and fun to color. I will be taking a different approach, maybe a different drawing style, not sure yet. I like change. I am also producing several other coloring products ~ coasters, cards, stickers and bookmarks.

What was the feeling like when you first seen your art work published in a coloring book?


What did it feel like to see your art work colored in by someone else?

Even more fantastic!  Like holding hands with my best friend. Really.

Do you color as well illustrate/draw/publish books?

I have been so busy with creating this first coloring book that I have not had that much time to color. I look at what other coloring book artists are doing as much as possible, but I have been chained to my drawing table for over a year getting this first book done. It is the hardest work I have ever done, very steep learning curve for me.
I am going on vacation very soon, and yes, I will be coloring!

It can be very difficult managing day to day life as well as publishing a coloring book. Can you tell us about your daily routine and how you manage your time?

I always start the day by making my bed. (Have you read, Make Your Bed, he’s right on). At 7:00 am, after coffee, I leave the house and meet 2 friends and we walk three miles. I come home, have breakfast with my husband, throw a load of laundry in, pick up the house, answer emails, check out FB, etc. About 10:30 I am usually ready to get to work. I work couple hours, take a break, and go back to it.

I am trying to stick to a 6 hour day now, drawing is so intense. When I get stuck, usually on a computer issue, I stop and sweep. I have solved more problems by stepping away for awhile than I ever did by struggling.

I have recently taken up fishing with a glass of wine in the evening.

Publishing can be a creative and a chaotic experience with a lot of learning curves along the way. Tell us the best and worst experiences that you have had creating your coloring book

The best experience was holding the finished book in my hands for the first time.
The worst experience happened about midway when I had to redo everything because we changed the paper size. I sent the revised drawings to the publisher and the proofs came back all digitized and blurry. I was terrified that I had not done them correctly and all was lost. It was Friday evening, the office was closed and I agonized and beat myself up over the entire weekend until Monday when I found out it was a minor booboo on their end and all was well.

What is your favorite treat/reward for a job well done?

Ice cream!

Connect with Patty Vadalia

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Where to buy Blue Willow – A Coloring Book Story



Happy coloring x


About the author


I'm Lea and I love everything to do with coloring! If it is a coloring book, a poster or even a bookmark that you can color in, I'm all over it. Of course, a girl has to have some pencils, markers, gelly rolls, pastels and what not to make those pictures pretty and I love those as well.

Whilst my coloring style lacks skill, I am enthusiastic and focused on enjoying the moment and having fun.

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