Cathy Carey


CATHY CAREY- Download the CV file at the bottom to view BIO

Artist Statement

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.

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!

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.

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. 

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.