Cathy Carey / SELECTED ARTWORK / BIOGRAPHY / ARTIST STATEMENT / INTERVIEW / PAST EXHIBITIONS
Cathy Carey - Artist Statement
“My parents lived in Alexandria, VA, a few miles down the Potomac River from Mount Vernon. I spent my childhood roaming the shores of the Potomac, finding treasures along the banks and building forts in the woods of the area that was George Washington’s hunting grounds. My fondest memories are of playing with the neighbors’ dog, Sandy. The two of us would lie in the cool dirt under bushes in the summertime, and patrol the neighborhood visiting favorite fields and creeks, playing fetch and chase. She was my best friend and would walk me to the school bus stop every day and be waiting for me when I returned. The feeling of connection I felt with Sandy is part of every important relationship I have had ever since. When I was 6 years old in second grade, we were doing an art project where I was making a clown face with pastels. It was really colorful and I was working on it on the floor, at 22” x 30” as it was too big for a desk. When it came time to stop and have a spelling test, the teacher let me continue painting instead. I knew at that moment, painting is what I had to do. I remember when I was about 13 my Mom let me hang my paintings in The Rainbow Tree – a head shop out on Route One. The guy that ran the store really liked my paintings and told my Mom I had a great imagination and the best thing I could do would be to get formal training so nothing could hold back my ideas. The first day of Art Foundation at VCU, the teacher came around and had us show a piece from our portfolios. As he went around the class, he told each kid they had to loosen up. When he got to me, he paused and said, ‘Carey, you need to tighten up.’
Being an Art Director for a newspaper group was the best job I ever had. It was instant gratification! I would do a painting in the afternoon and see it in the paper the next day! It was also a good fit for my work habits. I like having lots of projects and pieces I’m working on, and they all feed off each other. Designing a logo was like figuring out a puzzle, and those years were a great boon to my skills and painting style.
At 10 years old I was badly injured in a car accident. It was during that experience that my artistic brain took over and I began to reinvent my world to be of my own imagining. In every way I could, I determined to choose my own thoughts in spite of the external influences. I felt that negative experience was like rocket fuel to my spirit, and I was able to lift off into the realm of infinite possibilities. I thought that if something that awful and unexpected could happen out of the blue, then an opposite and wonderful experience was just as possible. I began to dream the impossible dream of being able to share with the world my artistic vision.
Because of the PTSD I had from that accident it caused an autoimmune condition that kept me from working outside the home. I then I started my own company, Elements Graphic Design. Back in 1990 not many people were self-employed or had a computer, it was both very exciting and terrifying to launch myself onto the waters of financial insecurity. Luckily, I am a hard worker and I did well. It also still allowed me to paint, show my work and teach art classes, because my hours were my own. I could work on computer stuff in the middle of the night if I needed.
My husband and I travel to places I want to paint, and one of my journeys took me to Monet’s garden in Giverny. I took a great workshop where the students were able to go into the gardens with the gardeners before and after the tourists. I was able to paint alone in the garden. Once, at the foot of the famous Wisteria Bridge, I smelled cigarette smoke and while concentrating on my painting thought how horrible it was that one of the gardeners was ruining the ambiance by smoking. Later at the workshop communal dinner, I was telling my story and our host, who had been friends with the Monet family, said, ‘That was Monet. You were painting in his favorite spot and he was a chain smoker.’
My goal is to complete five large paintings a month as well as other smaller paintings and projects. I dedicate time to work in sketch books as well as making notes and writing my ideas down in journals. All this helps feed the creative furnace that is always burning bright inside me. I find that there is always another idea in my mind. Sometimes the problem is trying to figure out which way to go or what to do first. I love the feel of paint on canvas and paper, the feeling of mixing wet paint, watching the colors emerge as if by magic.
When I was just learning to walk, my Mom said that when she would be out of the room for a moment I would climb the cabinets in the kitchen and get out anything I could grab, liquids, coffee, flour, etc. and pour them all on the floor and mix it all together with my hands. This tactile feeling of creation has stayed with me. I also feel I have stories to tell, that something in my spirit wants to gather everyone around, and tell a tale. That way I find I have to make up parts, I’m not just copying something I saw, but rather reliving something I felt. I paint landscapes because I love the feeling I get when I’m surrounded by nature and I’m fascinated by organic shapes. I’m inspired by the feel of the wind and how the movement it makes causes the light to dance in patterns of warm and cool. I am drawn to the night sky and the idea that looking at the light of stars is looking back in time.
I love animals. Through knowing my dogs I came to realize and believe that all animals have the same feelings and moods as we do. They are soul spirits in different bodies. I noticed I was able to capture the ‘person-ality’ of animals by doing blind contour drawings. I would find a technique that resonated, I packed it into my style suitcase and kept doing it. I use a lot of blind contour drawings, meaning I don’t look at the paper while I’m drawing, so I’m often surprised by what I capture on the paper. I feel it is a more intuitive approach; I strip away my thoughts and swim deep into my feelings. Another part of my technique is to paint my canvas metallic gold before I begin. I layer colors, and allow them to show through by using broken brush strokes. I make sweeping gestural strokes, while listening to wonderful music to show the energy and emotion of life. I really see the rhythm of music as if it is a tangible thing, and I seek to capture that vision in my work. I listen to music of all kinds, compose the shapes, and dance my brush strokes to the tempo of music. 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 artwork long after I’m dead, some enmeshed part of my spirit is gazing back, saying, ‘be of good cheer.’ I am communicating through my work that we are all connected through beauty and love.”