Smile Politely

“Doodling very carefully” with local artist, Katie Funk

Katie Funk found her passion for art in a rather unique way. While studying engineering at Purdue University, she discovered that science wasn’t the route for her. “I was at Purdue and losing my mind because engineering is stressful. I couldn’t do any more math problems”, she said. The remedy? “My sister had this Mandala coloring book. I started coloring it and I liked it so much that I just kept going with it. I got to the end of the book and I couldn’t find anything else that I wanted to color.”

The word “Mandala” originates from the Indian language of Sanskrit, and is commonly translated to the word circle. It represents a wholeness and serves as a support for the meditating individual. “It is a spiritual act”, says Funk. “Painting and coloring is like meditating.”

(Pictured below, a piece displayed at the Boneyard Festival earlier this year)

Funk describes her work as having “radial symmetry”. Her creations begin with what she refers to as a slice, and the slice is ultimately duplicated, mirrored, and manually aligned to create the full 360 degree design. “It’s an organic process. I’m not doing anything other than doodling very carefully.”

A slice

The slice transformed into a full piece

Once the design is ready, the process of coloring it begins. Funk works with a variety of mediums, but never uses more than 10 colors in any given palette. The coloring is the longest part of the process, and Funk goes to great lengths to make sure her pieces are colored and balanced symmetrically. She says that friends have begged her to do them differently. “I can’t bring myself to do it”, she states. To do so would go against her vision.

(Pictured above, a work in progress. Below, a piece completed) 

Funk at work in her studio

Those who feel so inclined to go against the grain are in luck, however. Funk has created two different coloring books which she offers for sale on both her website and at many area events such as The Boneyard Arts Festival and A Taste of CU. The books, titled Color Me Zen and Color Me Zen – The Chillax Edition have been steady sellers for her at the events. She says her favorite part of the whole artistic process is attending local art shows and creating her pieces live. “You get more people involved when they see live art in an interactive show space”, she says.

One of Funk’s coloring books


Funk’s influences and inspirations come from those whom she is closest to. Local artists and friends provide her a constant flow of creative energy. She also relies heavily on the input provided by her husband, Jared. Funk says that Jared serves as a second set of eyes and often helps her with the balance and patterns in her work. As one can imagine, it isn’t always easy taking criticism from those we hold most dear. “It’s horrible, because he’s usually right”’ she states. “He has good aesthetics. He was more classically trained as an artist. I’m 100% amateur.” Jared’s response? “I always tell her she is one of the most naturally talented artists I have ever met. To do what she does without any training is pretty awesome.”

Katie and Jared

Currently, Funk has over 40 different designs, some of which she has yet to color. She keeps all of them on file in the event she feels like revisiting a specific piece. While she would welcome the opportunity to pursue her artistry full time, she realizes that for now she is where she needs to be. She will continue to put her work on exhibit at local shows, and she will continue to sell her coloring books to aspiring artists. She thinks that everyone should color, stating, “It’s good for the brain.”

To learn more about Funk’s artwork and her coloring books, visit her etsy shop

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