Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Monday, March 21, 2011

in the atelier…with cathie joy young

In the ate­lier today is painter Cathie Joy Young, whose work first came to my atten­tion via Twit­ter. In perus­ing her port­fo­lio online, I found I really had to stop and study each piece to try and inter­pret the mean­ing. The sto­ries are not under­stood at first glance. It's intrigu­ing that Cathie her­self feels the sto­ries are not hers, but rather bor­rowed.  The col­ors are rich, the abstract fig­ures always con­vey­ing emo­tion. With the artist as the con­duit for these visions, the viewer is invited to dive in and explore.

In her own words, here is Cathie Joy Young:

"Shall the Meek?" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Shall the Meek?" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

1)   What path led you to your life as an artist?

My Dad was a painter. When my brother and I were very young both par­ents encour­aged us to draw and later to paint. My Dad painted in oils and his stu­dio was in our home so I was around it all the time.

When I was about 12 my Dad started show­ing my work along­side his own at casual out­door art shows. It was all rep­re­sen­ta­tional work. I sold occa­sion­ally and that was inspir­ing. When I would get too cre­ative – as in work from my imag­i­na­tion instead of from ref­er­ence it was frowned upon because I was actu­ally mak­ing good pocket money doing water color roses and pen and ink horses. I did not take art classes in high school and was not active with art again until I decided to apply to art school. I fig­ured I needed to go to col­lege and I really did not want to have to deal with required under­grad­u­ate classes like math and sci­ence so I thought  a pri­vate art col­lege was the way to go. I got accepted to the Pacific NW Col­lege of Art in Port­land, OR, and intended on major­ing in Graphic Design. Half way through my first year I changed my major to paint­ing. After grad­u­a­tion I worked in restau­rants and painted at home and would show occa­sion­ally. Even­tu­ally I got art-related jobs so that I could make a liv­ing that way. I worked at a stag­ing and prop com­pany called Stage Right. I free-lanced at dec­o­ra­tive paint­ing jobs and then I con­tracted to McMe­namin’s and did mural work in their var­i­ous hotels, the­aters and pubs.  After leav­ing that job there were a few years when I did not paint at all, and then in 2005 I started all over again in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way.

Since then I’ve been show­ing my work at var­i­ous gal­leries and shows in the US and sell­ing my work inter­na­tion­ally online.

"Inside Miracle" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Inside Mir­a­cle" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

2)   Please describe three sources of inspi­ra­tion for your art.

My inspi­ra­tion comes from painters I came across while I was in art school years ago and from authors I read going back as far as child­hood. The visual artists I most admire are Odil­lon Redon, Marc Cha­gall, Ivan Gen­er­alic, El Greco, and many of the Expres­sion­ists as well as medieval painters. The writ­ers who have helped shape the way I think are Her­mann Hesse, Aldous Hux­ley, John Galswor­thy, Thomas Hardy, Doris Less­ing, Tove Jans­son, and George McDon­ald. Besides the listed artists and writ­ers I am also inspired by the act of paint­ing. What I mean by this is that the very action of pro­duc­ing inter­est­ing imagery keeps me going.

"Egyptian Faience" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Egypt­ian Faïence" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

3)   What was the last item you brought home from a trip? Where did you go, and why that item?

I was recently in Hawaii and I brought home shells, coral, and inter­est­ing small rocks that I found at the beach. I really like rocks and shells and I always try to bring home a rock from wher­ever I go. I stayed away from bring­ing home a lava rock though because my Hawai­ian friend told me I would be cursed if I did. I don’t like to take chances with curses!

"Unexpected Clues" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Unex­pected Clues" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

4)   Please fill in the blank: If I was not an artist, I’d be:

A writer of books.

"Opening Sky" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Open­ing Sky" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

5)   What advice do you have for peo­ple who are afraid to buy art?

The pur­chase of Art has a dif­fer­ent and more endur­ing value than say the lat­est Iphone. The lat­ter will be out­dated in a few months and need to be replaced in a cou­ple of years. A piece of art is age­less and time­less and if you really love it, you always will.

"Astro Coo" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Astro Coo" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

I hope you've enjoyed get­ting to know Cathie a lit­tle bet­ter! Please visit her web­site to see more of her work. You can also email her at or shop online here. Please leave a note and let me know what you think of these fas­ci­nat­ing pieces!

Tags: , , , , ,


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

tuesday musings: green decorating

Imag­ine if you will a room, not overly large, rec­tan­gu­lar in shape.  Now add into this space five win­dows, three door­ways, six built-in book­cases and one fire­place.  This sounds like a room with quite a lot going on, doesn’t it? As some of my read­ers may remem­ber from an ear­lier post, I was con­tem­plat­ing paint­ing my home office all one color, in high gloss. Yes, this is the room in ques­tion, and yes, I finally did it.

Once upon a colo­nial time, rooms were mostly painted one color, before the advent of “white-trim-and-colored-walls” as an Amer­i­can design mantra. Recently pre­mier shel­ter mag­a­zines have shown more and more rooms with­out (gasp!) white trim – beau­ti­ful rooms with walls and trim all wrapped up in one rich shade.  Libraries, offices, liv­ing spaces with tra­di­tional or eclec­tic décor — I will admit I was both intrigued and a tad envious.

My office, with its white wood­work, tiny sliv­ers of painted wall and numer­ous por­tals, was a visu­ally dis­tract­ing expe­ri­ence. But the view out the win­dows is lovely and green. Ah, inspi­ra­tion!  Could I erase the line between indoors and out, set­ting my desk in the yard, at least virtually?

Out came my fan decks, search­ing for the per­fect green. But this one is too yel­low, this too blue, this too gray — I felt like Goldilocks.  I decided to use the custom-blended olive green (in Ben­jamin Moore's Aura, nat­u­rally) pre­vi­ously rel­e­gated to those tiny bits of wall — a color I loved, but never had enough of. Green dec­o­rat­ing, with the color green — two favorites rolled into one task.

Down came the five enor­mous bal­loon shades left by the pre­vi­ous owner. Even design­ers need an incen­tive to replace what were clearly cus­tom, albeit weighty and grand­moth­erly, win­dow treat­ments. (Those win­dow treat­ments I hap­pily donated to a fel­low designer's tag sale to raise funds for Komen CT). The influx of light was astounding.

Some­times paint­ing a room sim­ply means mov­ing all the fur­ni­ture into the cen­ter and cov­er­ing it with a tarp.  But is my case, every­thing was already in the cen­ter of the room.  The desk had been nigh impos­si­ble to get through the nar­row door­way, so it was stay­ing. And if it was stay­ing, I was stay­ing too, with files and com­put­ers and projects, oh my!

And those six, over­stuffed book­cases?  All needed to be emp­tied, onto the floor of this not overly large room. Stacks and stacks to be nav­i­gated around, sorted through and even­tu­ally re-shelved.  Surely I can endure the dis­rup­tion for a week? A lit­tle voice in my head is won­der­ing if there really is any­thing wrong with white book­cases and trim. Hun­dreds of books made their way to the town library. Part­ing is such sweet sorrow.

But I car­ried on – and the result is truly… lush.  That’s the best way to describe my home office’s new aura (no pun intended), like sit­ting in a rain for­est.  Those of you who thrive in all-white spaces may shud­der, but this room now embraces me in glo­ri­ous, warm, con­tem­pla­tive color. The new, spare Roman shades, in Quadrille’s Conga Line (moss & aqua on tint) trimmed with Robert Allen’s Cabin Weave (surf), add a funky vibe with­out being cliché. It feels so like work­ing out­side, I’m tempted to swat the mosquitoes.

cabin weave Robert Allen

cabin weave from Robert Allen in surf

Roman shades in Quadrille's Conga Line

roman shades against rich mossy trim

Sorry, can’t show the rest of the room with­out blow­ing the mys­tique that design­ers live in pris­tine spaces. It’s a work­ing home office that looks like total dis­ar­ray – and not in an art­ful, dressed-for-a-magazine way!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Monday, January 24, 2011

in the atelier…with Russ Potak

Art inspires me and artists amaze me. The abil­ity to cre­ate beauty from such raw mate­ri­als can­not fail to impress. Every built envi­ron­ment ben­e­fits from the addi­tion of art in any of its forms. ‘In the Ate­lier’ is a new blog fea­ture spot­light­ing artists I have met in the real or vir­tual worlds. They have gra­ciously agreed to answer a series of ques­tions I hope will help read­ers under­stand more about their art.

Today’s fea­tured artist is Russ Potak. His work, to me, rep­re­sents quin­tes­sen­tial New Eng­land. His brush strokes add lively energy to his sub­jects, and while still real­is­tic, his paint­ings bor­der on the impres­sion­is­tic. I espe­cially love the rich colors!

1) What path led you to your life as an artist?

The path that led me to be an artist was already paved when I was 5. I just kept doing what came nat­u­rally to me, like walk­ing, speak­ing, eat­ing,  and breath­ing.  I never con­sciously acknowl­edged that I was an artist. I just com­mu­ni­cated in a visual way. It wasn't until I had to put a tag on it, for edu­ca­tional pur­poses, that it became a "thing".

2) Please describe three sources of inspi­ra­tion for your art.

I've always been inspired by just see­ing art. What peo­ple have done. Liv­ing artists and deceased ones. Muse­ums and art gal­leries have drawn my inter­est. I've always felt like I was home when I vis­ited them. The other thing that was a big inspi­ra­tion was life itself. The big pic­ture. The real deal. The ulti­mate cre­ation. And from it, these feel­ings and impres­sions formed that needed to be told, in the only way I knew how. To paint them. I con­sid­ered writ­ing them, but I felt they needed so much more than words alone.

I guess, paint­ing is my first lan­guage. Eng­lish my second.

3) What was the last item you brought home from a trip? Where did you go, and why that item?

The last item I brought home from a trip was a stick from the seashore. It was the coast of Maine. A mist rolled in. You could hear the fog horns in the dis­tance. The ocean was grey and mys­te­ri­ous and I walked along the sand and peb­bled shores. I came upon this stick, which was really more like the staff of Moses. It had washed up on the shore from the tide. It was well pre­served in salt and time, and had a whitish grey patina like the bone of a whale. That, to me, was a trea­sure of more wealth and sig­nif­i­cance than had I found a hun­dred bucks. I picked it up and strode off with it like I had owned it my whole life. All I needed was a peg leg and an eye patch to com­plete the ensemble.

4) Please fill in the blank: If I was not an artist, I’d be a__________.

If I was not an artist, I guess I would be a writer, a film pro­ducer, or some  other sim­i­lar thing that filled in the need to express myself. The cre­ative drive needs a vehi­cle. I would have found one, ..  some­where, some­how, to get to where I needed  to go in the cre­ative realm of things.

5) What advice do you have for peo­ple who are afraid to buy art?

My advise for peo­ple that are afraid to buy art is this. Buy small. Buy afford­able. Buy unpre­ten­tiously. Buy like you were spend­ing money for a good book, a movie, a con­cert, or  a fine meal. Its not some­thing that you have to have to get a co-signer for, or give up your first born. Just like it, buy it, and enjoy it.  Don't get too heavy with brood­ing mean­ings as to its exis­tence or feel that it has to answer the ques­tions of  the mean­ing of life. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Just con­sider it a pur­chase to pam­per the inner self. Kind of like that stick I was talk­ing about ear­lier. It felt good, and I liked  it, so I took own­er­ship of it. I'm the stew­ard of that stick. When you buy art, you're invest­ing in your­self. You become a stew­ard of that paint­ing. Its a win-win situation.

I hope you enjoyed learn­ing more about Russ and his work. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @russpotak or see more at:

Tags: , , , ,


Thursday, September 9, 2010

designer spaces & market places — blue tape is not my friend

Remod­el­ing, new construction, even sim­ple redec­o­rat­ing, every one of these is fraught with the unex­pected. As a designer, I've come to expect the unex­pected, and I work hard to ensure my clients are com­fort­ably insu­lated from the bumps in the road. For a show house event, I the designer am, for all intents, the client. And I really could use some shock absorbers!

My favorite painter unex­pect­edly got a nice big job at the other end of the state. So instead of work­ing on my show space, he's earn­ing a pay­check else­where, and I cer­tainly can't blame him.  No wor­ries, I said. I can do this. What the hell was I thinking?

I'm try­ing to cre­ate "noisy" walls, so chose black and white hor­i­zon­tal stripes in vary­ing widths. This seemed like an espe­cially great idea when some­one else was doing the paint­ing. But with scale plan of stripes in hand, I tack­led it on my own. What seemed like miles of blue tape went up on the lovely base of Far­row & Ball's Wim­borne White.

Where we started:

Start­ing to remove the cursed blue tape:

The tape is off. Looks okay, right?  Despite my best attempts to ensure a tight seal, the damned blue tape allowed plenty of lit­tle paint bleeds. And so I am in the process of man­u­ally retrac­ing each of those lines, top and bot­tom, with a thin brush to even out the edges. Blue tape is not my friend. Blue tape is a betrayer — it's siren call of per­fectly straight edges draws you in, but then smack! Real­ity is a bitch. Over­promise and unde­liver — that is blue tape's mantra.

Frankly, my free-hand method of re-lining may be a lit­tle wob­bly in places, but over­all it's an improve­ment. May the touch ups con­tinue, as tomor­row friends arrive to start post­ing on my Walls!

And yet another plug for Spaces & Places ben­e­fits two won­der­ful com­mu­nity char­i­ties in Hart­ford CT — Rebuild­ing Together Hart­ford and the Hart­ford Preser­va­tion Alliance. Please join us Sep­tem­ber 23rd for the open­ing night cock­tail party 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The main event will be open on Fri­day, Sep­tem­ber 24 through Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 25, from 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tick­ets are $50 for the open­ing night event and $25 for gen­eral admis­sion, and can be pur­chased by con­tact­ing or call­ing Rebuild­ing Together Hart­ford at 860.757.9425 or Hart­ford Preser­va­tion Alliance at 860.570.0331.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,