What could be better than having your coffee mug personalized with a painting of your pet? Karen Donleavy first started when she was twelve and was dispatched to a progressive school in Devon where the kids spend most of their time trying to capture their escaped guinea pigs or making pottery in the Art department. An artist hailing from the Isle of Man, Donleavy has been hand making these creations after attending art schools in London and Ireland when she moved to Los Angeles.
She had always put animals on her work and according to her, “…it was an English tradition to use these motifs.” In the beginning of her pottery business Donleavy was heavily influenced by South American Indian designs. When she began painting cats and things really started to take off, so much that she had to hire people to keep up with the demand. And even though business started picking up the quality of the work never went down; the pottery is still high-fired hand-thrown porcelain.
Donleavy’s designs have become very popular and have been ordered by some top celebrities. Julie Andrews bought an entire dinnerware set with a different animal on each place setting. Jill Ireland has been collecting it for years and Donleavy says that one of her pot throwers would spot her “fat cat cups” in the Charles Bronson movies. Even Lauren Bacaul put in an order for her grand children.
For a long time Donleavy only painted cats on her pieces until she adopted a three-year-old King Charles Spaniel mix, Maxine. That’s when she started doing dogs and it just expanded into painting more and more. Now people even commission Donleavy to do their individual pets on the pottery.
By demand she is even doing Trophies for dog shows and pottery with totems. For the last eight years Karen Donleavy has maintained her business in Idaho where some very talented local artists assist her. They continue to maintain high quality hand made products. For more information visit: www.karendonleavy.com.