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  • Writer's pictureCathy Carey

My Inspirations

I was recently contacted to join Patience Brewster’s efforts to showcase artists and write about myself as an artist, and do a post about my inspirations. As it happens I have been taking a course through Xanadu gallery called “Art Business Academy” and I recently wrote a piece about my inspirations and ongoing goals. Here are some answers to their questions and at the end my Art Statement. For more information on Patience Brewster check her blog here:

1. As a child, do you recall a significant moment when you felt truly affected or inspired by any particular artwork or artist?

I went to elementary school outside Washington DC, and several times a year we trooped through the Smithsonian Museums and the National Gallery of Art, I loved it! But it was frustrating because we always went past the beautiful Impressionist paintings to the religious  Renaissance paintings. I was so drawn to the colorful images made with invigorating brushstrokes, and we never stopped and looked! I especially loved this painting, Mary Cassatt’s 1878 painting “Little Girl in a Blue Armchair”. I adored it, especially the dog, and wanted to go over and study it, and have that painting live inside my eyes! I wanted to be in that room, and feel the beautiful thick turquoise blue paint. I loved art, and really noticed art and artists, and the other thing about this painting that stood out for me was that Mary Cassatt was a woman, so this painting kind of clicked “Oh hey, I can be an artist!” I eventually became more a devotee of Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse than just Cassatt, but that painting set my feet on a path I am always attracted to – vivid color – vigorous brush strokes.

Painting by Cathy Carey 2015©

Traveler by Cathy Carey 2015©

2. As an artist, what do you hope to convey with your work?

I feel it is my mission in life to bring happiness and joy through my art to as many people as I can. I add something of my soul to every painting, so that when someone looks at my paintings long after I’m dead, some enmeshed part of my spirit is gazing back, saying “be of good cheer”. I am communicating with my work that we are all connected through beauty and love.

Painting by Cathy Carey 2015©

Resplendent by Cathy Carey 2015©

3. What memorable responses have you had to your work?

One of the nicest notes I received from collectors was this:

“We love your artwork – as evidenced by our many purchases. Your creative use of vibrant colors, along with your choice of subjects, has made your paintings among our most valued possessions. Our collection includes watercolor, oils and pastels. Each piece has its own personality and unique placement in our home. Some of our paintings show detailed aspects of nature while others include panoramic views. Our pastels include amazing aspects of Venice and its canals and eye catching colors of the funky homes along Meyer Street in Tucson (named for my husband’s great-grandfather). In our busy world, your artwork is a beautiful reminder to slow down and view and feel the beauty around us. Thank you for helping to make our house a lovely, warm and welcoming home.”

Painting by Cathy Carey 2015©

Somebody New to Love by Cathy Carey 2015©

4. What is your dream project?

I love working on large paintings, and I’d love to be in a gallery show where I could do several larger painting 30 x 40 up to 48 x 60! I am currently working on a series of Sonoran desert scenes that would be amazingly fun to do large!

5. What artists, of any medium, do you admire? (Famous or not!)

My early inspirations were Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse. Gustav Klimt is also an artist whose work I like. Current artists like Janet Fish and Jim Vogel are fantastic and I love seeing their work in person when I can.

Cathy Carey Artist Statement

Painting by Cathy Carey 2015©

Desert Night Music by Cathy Carey 2015©

I am best described as a Contemporary Expressive Colorist, whose favorite part about painting is using color to create emotional meaning and visual depth. In choosing what to paint or how to paint it, I want my pictures to be more than the reality of description, and I strive to fill viewers with a sense of joy. Inspired by Matisse, my goal is to paint what it feels like, not what it looks like. I love to listen to all different kinds of music as I paint – it helps me to show how the movement and interaction of colors and shapes feels like the rhythm and pulse of music and dancers.

Painting by Cathy Carey 2015©

Quail Family by Cathy Carey 2015©

An interesting question I am often asked is, “where do your ideas come from?” To that I respond, from everything around me and the world I live in. I paint the things I see and feel everyday – even when it looks made up,  it is based in reality. I try to find a story within a scene that is engaging. I look for wonderful possibilities of color and for ways to use exciting shapes and textures.

My special talent is that I am a problem solver, and I sure know how to create lot of problems artistically! My creativity is sparked when I am  uncomfortable with something and have to figure out how to fix it so that everything will be OK again. Consequently I am very adventurous with color and composition, knowing that each new obstacle in front of me will have an amazing solution if I can only figure it out.  My father was an electrical engineer, who worked for NASA, sending the first men into space and to the moon using a slide-rule. I must have gotten this creative problem solving aspect of my nature from him!

Painting by Cathy Carey 2015©

Love by Cathy Carey 2015©

The natural world of animals and landscapes are my favorite subject matter.  I think about my environment and the animals that share my world and I want to show them in a joyful integrated space. I love the feeling I get when I’m surrounded by nature. I’m fascinated by organic shapes, inspired by the feel of the wind and intrigued by how movement makes light dance in patterns of warm and cool. The night sky draws me in and the idea that looking at the light of stars is looking back in time thrills me. In order to express these emotions and ideas, I use brush-stroke marks to show the lines of energy I feel coming off  living shapes, spreading and combining throughout all aspects of nature.

Emotionally, the focus of my current work is to capture a joyful sense of reality by representing the color and drama of a place through gesture and brush stroke, color and composition.  I want all the elements to work together to become something that has more feeling and meaning than all the pieces separately. Intellectually, I am interested in the way we change our environment and the way our behavior affects each other through interaction and observation.  I want to show how things are related to the space they occupy.

Learning and research are exciting to me. I like to discover and integrate new things into my life and my paintings.  I often find new subjects through travel; visiting museums, galleries and reading art history books. I do a lot of drawing and painting in watercolor sketchbooks. One of my favorite places of inspiration continues to be the garden I created at my home in Escondido, CA. I was inspired by a visit to Monet’s garden in Giverny to create an outdoor area to paint.  The garden  is high on a hill overlooking a lake, surrounded by mountains and inland valleys, and has many wonderful animal visitors with an ever changing display of beautiful stories.

Painting by Cathy Carey 2015©

Summer Wind by Cathy Carey 2015©

When I am inspired by a place, I take photos, paint on location, and keep journals. I do lots of drawings in a technique called blind contour, which  leads to wonderful distortions but also to surprisingly coherent images. I am increasingly intrigued by how my blind contour drawings capture a scene and have come to rely on them when building a composition. I collect everything I have into the studio, and study it to see what stories will emerge. Due to my many years as a graphic designer, I have expert skills  using the computer to scan in my drawings and  create my compositions.  This enables me to change sizes and proportions effortlessly and layer different drawings together. Once I have the exact image I want, I use a projector to get the drawings proportionally scaled up to the size of my canvas, without losing any of the natural feel of the original blind contour drawings. I paint my drawings onto museum quality linen canvases that are coated first in gold gesso. Using broken brush-strokes to build up my paint over many layers, allows the gold to shine through. The gold makes a wonderful warm glow surrounding the other colors, and also acts as a unique color.

My sense of composition came from observing Monet’s paintings, where I began using opposing diagonals to energize my compositions. In order to lead the viewers eye through my painting, I create these diagonal lines using a trail of a similar color, or using an actual line on an object or group of objects that move in a straight or perhaps curving diagonal, like an “S”. I also use brush-strokes in the shape of an “S” to activate the space.

Other artists and collectors ask me how I get such rich color. My secret is that I pair opposites to create a pulse within the space. I pair patterned and flat decorative space with atmospheric perspective to contrast the sense of space in the painting.  By using opposites in temperature, value and saturation next to each other, I energize the colors to sing in their own spotlight. Inspired by Van Gogh, my brush-strokes are another way I energize an area. When I’m painting I imagine I’m writing in a  language, and make strokes that resemble letters – sometimes I use actual words as hidden messages in a painting.

Couple of Quail 24x20 Oil Painting by Cathy Carey ©2015

Couple of Quail 24×20 Oil Painting by Cathy Carey ©2015

Art is a communication.  I like to tell stories with my paintings to capture the imagination of the viewer.  My continuing goal is to continue to dig deeper into my psyche and soul to uncover universal truths about what it means to be human and alive at this time of world history. The underlying story I want to tell is that all matter vibrates with the energy of consciousness, and we are all connected through beauty and love. I feel it is my mission in life to bring joy to as many people as I can, through my art.

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