This month we feature the very humble and inspiring Cathlyn for our April installment of our Featured Artist posts. Taking time out her busy single-mommy schedule she reflects on how creativity has shaped her life from a very early age and speaks some very true words about inspiration and keeping the flame of your passion burning strong – but don’t let me tell you, read all about it for yourself!
What started you in your career of art? What sparked your interest in creating art?
Creativity seems to be a way of life for me and it really helps to have parents or an environment that encourages this creativity from an early age. I believe creativity is rather contagious – it’s hard not to be drawn in when it’s constantly happening around you – so in this respect I have quite a lot to thank my parents for! They are both highly practical and creative in their own way, neither of them paint or make art in a traditional sense. My dad is really good at fixing things and really very talented with woodwork. I grew up seeing him happily at work in his workshop on the weekends. From this I learned to work with my hands and solve problems in a unique way. On the other side, my mom is a quilter so she sews a lot. She was (and still is) forever making things, and got us doing many crafty projects. When we were young she would do things like make us our own playdough, and often set us kids up painting with watercolours at the kitchen table. She encouraged our imagination a lot too…I think that is very significant.
I am incredibly grateful for all that I assimilated through their creative example! That foundation fed an inbuilt love for drawing and art, in general, that has been with me all my life. Creating has always fulfilled me. I hope that I can lay that kind of foundation for my kids too.
How would you describe your art?
Someone once described my work as “full of life” and I rather appreciated that. I’ve always been keen to express a worldview of hope despite the presence of hardship. I am very interested in light and contrasts in my work, and like to work in a fast, expressive manner especially when drawing. I can easily get caught up in details, and so try to practice working more freely.
I would personally describe my art as a journey. In many ways it is a journey of healing and discovery, but also as my freedom and my happy space.
What inspires you to create art?
The need to create. It literally builds up until you burst if you ignore it!
I may be answering this indirectly but I believe productivity inspires more productivity when it comes to art. Stopping can be quite detrimental. I find that the act of creating provides a huge sense of fulfillment. When I have gone through periods in the past where I had stopped creating art altogether, I felt I was missing something. There is an innate need at the core of who I am to creatively express myself in a consistent manner. I would be lost without doing that. That in itself, that deep-set desire, is what draws me to create. Inspiration definitely plays a big part. Whilst I can’t deny how awesome it is when inspiration hits, truthfully, I find inspiration to be a fickle friend!
Viewing art or being near others’ creativity is often a great source of inspiration to get going again because it stirs that need. Purpose also plays a huge role in being inspired to create. Where you set the value in your art can influence your will or ability to practice, and be inspired doing so. That’s something I’ve had to become more conscious of.
Do you have any formal training/education relating to art or are you self-taught?
Yes I do. Art was my favourite subject throughout school, and I’m so grateful for my high school art teacher’s input. After I matriculated I went on to study art as well. I moved to Cape Town to study at Ruth Prowse School of Art where I had a fantastic year before moving to UCT to study Fine Art at Michaelis. I majored in Printmaking, (which became a really big love of mine) and then eventually graduated with a First Class pass, and I am on the Deans Merit list.
Any plans/changes/exhibitions/projects/anything exciting on the horizon for the near future?
I am participating in the SASA Members’ 1 exhibition at Kirstenbosch later this month and I am definitely looking forward to being part of that.
I am very excited about the new series of skyscapes I’ve started, and to really getting stuck further into that this year, inbetween commissions.
There are always plenty of dreams which will hopefully become plans fulfilled in the near future!
Who are some of your favorite artists (local and/or international)?
I’ve always been inspired by Henri Matisse. I was lucky enough to see a Matisse/ Picasso exhibit in London many years ago. I also love the expressiveness of William Kentridge’s work. Incredible. I am passionate about ink, and I have always admired his sensibility.
What has been your best memory/experience related to your art?
Wow. There has got to be so many levels on which to answer this. I think something that I have found to be truly special, is the experience of seeing a client happy with their commissioned artwork. It’s something quite profound when the ideas and imagination of a client are drawn out and matched by an artist. I’m wondering how to explain the moment. It’s like a connection happens when you’ve successfully translated an idea into an artistic reality. The visible joy at being ‘gotten’ is quite priceless and well worth the possible difficulties of commissioned work.
What is your favorite medium/art form both to create and view/collect?
Painting is where my heart is at this point. It’s just so accessible as well! I currently work in Acrylic. A medium I love the versatility of. I settled on acrylic for the very practical reason that I have young children and I’m often working around them. I found other mediums interfered with their environment and posed too many health risks. I also mix ink and acrylic in my works sometimes.
I’ve previously worked in oils, and pastel (both chalk and oil). Pastel is an old love. What a beautiful medium.
Looking at prints or ink drawings is usually quite inspiring. I’m really quite passionate about their aesthetic.
Something quirky you may not know about my art (or artists who draw with ink) is that when I draw or paint with ink, I usually use sticks instead of a paintbrush or traditional tools. I often collect little twigs from places I walk- especially if I plan to paint something from that place. Then I use these twigs to draw with. It adds something quite special to the artwork, and to me they take on new value. I have a little collection of my favorites.
Where are you based? Why there?
I am based in Cape Town. Couldn’t feel more at home here. I moved here from Durbs to come and study and it had me hooked.
What other interests/hobbies do you have?
Writing, actually, is something I love. I read when I get enough time. I am a single mom of two precious children and they get most of my time. We do love being creative together.
Other than that, I really enjoy gardening, swimming and watching football.
What do you do in your spare time to relax and unwind?
I go and find green spaces! A walk in nature is my number one relaxer. Some sunshine, green grass and fresh air makes me a very happy person.
Add to that, good food, friends, music, wine and movies!