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Kathleen Noble: The Arts of Folsom and El Dorado Hills

Despite drawing, painting, making things, and learning all she could about art and the creative process since childhood, Kathleen Noble didn’t pursue her passion full-time until retiring in 2015—after over 40 years in human resources management. The diverse artist now paints, illustrates, and creates in a variety of processes—including people and pet portraits, watercolor landscapes, printmaking, bookbinding, and cyanotypes. “Enjoying art, in any form, helps us experience another’s unique interpretations and, hopefully, leads us to value differences,” Noble says. “Most of all, I think art helps us all appreciate life.” The artist’s next project is focused on creating a series of ink and watercolor paintings based on Aesop’s Fables, while learning all she can about illustrating, writing, and publishing children’s books. 

HLB: How did you find your true calling? 

KN: I didn’t focus on a creative life until I made my daughter a pendant with a tiny watercolor portrait of her little Havanese dog, Henry. She loved it and said everyone who saw it did, too. She asked why I wasn’t selling them and I thought, “Why not?” so I opened an online shop for my artwork and custom pet portraits and started working more seriously on my art process and techniques by taking workshops and joining arts organizations. Fast forward a couple of years, and I retired from my day job to do what I love full-time.

HLB: What are some of your biggest influences?  

KN: I love to experiment with all kinds of themes and styles, yet I’m really drawn to animals and the Golden Age of Illustration (1880s through 1920s) when artists such as Arthur Rackham, N.C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle made intricate ink and watercolor paintings for children’s books. Another inspiration is the urban sketcher movement, where artists get together in urban locations to sketch the local sights for a morning or afternoon. There are a few groups in Sacramento and the Bay Area that are a lot of fun.

HLB: Why is art so vital? 

KN: On the creative side, art offers individuals a chance to channel their emotions and energy into a form of expression. Creating is, in my opinion, the very best way to live in the moment—to really see, hear, feel, taste, and smell—whether you’re a gardener, chef, quilter, musician, dancer, painter, woodworker, etc.  

HLB: Do you have any favorite spots to feed your creativity?

KN: I’m a big fan of the American River Parkway, which is a short walk from my home. It refreshes me, provides unending photo ops for future paintings, and never fails to show me something new. Historic Sutter Street, also a short walk, is fun to sketch, and the Crocker Art Museum is yet another treasure. I volunteered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for several years and spent lots of time in San Francisco’s MOMA, de Young, and Legion of Honor, and I feel the Crocker really holds its own in the inspiration arena.

by Heather L. Becker