After heartbreaking loss, Fi Knox found refuge in art and discovered a new mission.
Years ago, Fi Knox discovered the therapeutic effects of art for a broken heart. Now as a retiree, who devoted decades to working in the bustling medical industry, Fi directs her energy toward creating art with a unique purpose. Her special project, called Misty’s Art for Animals, connects people and benefits animals in need around the world. In an interview, the generous-hearted artist shared the journey that led to her deeply meaningful work.
Where do you live, and how does your environment influence your art?
I live in Scotland, UK. Although I live in the city, it’s only a 15-minute drive to be in lovely countryside. I walk for a couple of hours on the hills daily with my four dogs. This nature fix is absolutely key to feeling in tune with myself. I’m retired, so the dogs and I do this daily, rain, shine, or snow. Nature is, for me, where I find emotional peace, perspective, and sanity in what seems to be an increasingly agitated and troubled world.
When did you start painting, and how have you developed your skills?
I guess I always drew as a kid. Then I went to med school, and for the next 35 years there wasn’t much time for hobbies.
I started therapy a year after becoming widowed, and during the years of deep exploration I discovered that I could make clay figures which, although barely recognizable as figures, were to me a clear way of expressing emotions that were buried so deep that I had forgotten they were there. That was 30 years ago. Since then I have explored sculpture, drawing, and most recently painting, but always fundamentally as a way to explore and express emotion.
I was very deeply influenced by Meriel Gold, who gave amazing classes called Drawn Home, which were about just that: finding one’s way back to the truth of who we really are, not the facade we wear.
Online classes have been a huge source of learning to explore my creativity. I am a complete fan of Ardith Goodwin, an amazing artist and teacher who lives in Mobile, Alabama. I am hugely indebted to her and the group of students who gather for her online classes.
What’s your special connection with animals that motivates your charitable work on their behalf?
I once had a serious bout of depression. I’m normally an optimist, a glass-half-full person, and this floored me. I was off work for seven months and in a very bad place indeed. It was a dog who unexpectedly arrived in my life that gave me a reason to get up in the morning, to be happy again. That’s the short version, but I’ve been trying to give back to animals ever since.
Where did the “Misty” come from in “Misty’s Art for Animals”?
Misty was the first dog I got from a rescue organization. She was already an old lady with lots of health issues, but what a darling she was. After she died, I missed her so much that I took my paints out and painted her portrait, and that was the beginning of drawing and painting animals.
I was at the time trying to raise funds for an animal sanctuary, and I wondered whether people would exchange donations for art if I started a Facebook page. It seemed fitting to name the page after Misty.
Since then, Misty’s page has raised thousands for small organizations who are doing a great job on a small budget. I sell art through galleries from time to time for myself, but 100% of sales from Misty’s page go directly to the rescue, not to me.
What are the greatest challenges and rewards of your work?
Well, I’m not sure there are challenges. I get to draw and paint every day, and at least some of it does some good. The reward is really in the process of drawing and painting. The magic of seeing an image appear gets me every time.
Aside from art, what are your everyday inspirations?
My inspirations are primarily my four rescue poodles and the long walks we take every day. There is so much more communication happening between animals than we notice when we are busy with everyday life.
Retirement is great. I get to slow down, be quiet, and notice so much more. I love classical music, I love my wood-burning stove in winter. My life has gone from ridiculously busy to very simple. It might have made me crazy with boredom when I was young, but now it suits me perfectly.
Some humans inspire me—the ones who have reached the conclusion that love and kindness are really the only things that matter.
What’s one truth you’ve learned as an artist?
Well, that’s tricky. The one truth I would hold to is that love is what matters. Did I discover this through art? No, not really. I think maybe art for me is about finding the essence or truth of something. I love decoration as much as anybody, but I like to be able to see clearly what is the essence underneath that. Maybe that is what art is currently trying to teach me.
How can readers go about purchasing your work to benefit an animal welfare organization?
All a person has to do is post or message on Misty’s page. I like to “meet” the customer there so that I can be sure they are getting what they want. I sometimes do commissioned portraits of pets too. Dogs and cats are the usual subjects, but I get more unusual requests too. I think a turtle was the most unusual so far.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Hmm…thinking…haha! There is life after 60…don’t panic!
You can keep up with Misty’s Art for Animals and support Fi’s charitable work via Facebook!