Meet Myrtill…

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There is a cactus, named Whortleberry, that I am obsessed with. It is a large cactus, over 10′ tall that has such intriguing small dark burgundy clustered buds. From those tiny clustered buds come the most graceful 1″ in diameter translucent white flowers. Unless you look directly at this cactus you would never notice the buds or flowers. Last  year I took a photo of it while on a neighborhood walk and then searched the botanical gardens here to find the one large specimen they had. It’s the first one that blooms in Spring and I’m surprised how few people stop and look at it.

I have been working on this painting for months in an attempt to capture just what a magical cactus it is!

Myrtill
18″ x 36″
Oil on Canvas

Everything heats up in March!

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The temperatures are not the only thing heating up in Arizona this time of year. Tens of thousands of people trying to forget about old man winter head here seeking out the sun.

The golf courses are buzzing, fans cheering at baseball games, and the cacti are just pining for the opportunity to burst open. In Chicago this was my favorite time of year and it remains the same here as well.

As the days get longer here, we are given the gift of more time to look into the skies and witness the sunlight as it plays on the clouds and mountains; until it’s tired of playing and then it lights the sky on fire as it goes to bed after the long day.

The colors in those evening skies will soon be popping up all over the desert and I cannot wait. Until then, wishing you all a speedy floral filled March!


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SOLD!
Sunday Hijinx was recently sold to John and Beverly, who were my very first art collector…at age 4  😍  when I was creating work at Jack and Jill preschool. Mom and Dad needed to replace prints that they had in their kitchen after buying some neutral furniture. Their terra cotta accent wall and verdant green quartz counters screamed for this to be in their kitchen. Thrilled to be able to visit it often in their beautiful home. Thank you for the continual encouragement and support!


Strelitzia 12 Website

SOLD!
Strelitzia III was recently sold at the Desert Foothills Library show for the Sonoran Arts League’s Art in Public Places. Thank you to David and Deborah for being the newest purchaser of my artwork. It’s always the most exciting day when a piece of what I love to do gets purchased. The show runs until March 21st at The Desert Foothills Library,  38443 N Schoolhouse Rd., Cave Creek, Arizona


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Meet Loladenium…she is 20″ x 20″ oil on canvas. I continue to find my way through the desert palette and finding my expressive voice with the new flora and fauna. My inspiration for her are these amazing plants here called Adeniums, or Desert Roses. They feature a large bulbous caudex, half exposed above the soil, that retains enough water to supply the plant during drought seasons. In total view it looks much like a bonsai plant as the branches are minimal in leaves, pushing all its energy to the tips where the leaves and flowers populate. This one in particular is a double bloomer. They are often grown in pots and produce the most stunning tropical blooms.

 

Are you ready for the Super Bloom?

SUPER BLOOM?

According to LA Magazine there is an excellent chance that California will experience it’s second Super Bloom since 2017 with the previous one being  in 2008. These rare wildflower carpeted fields are often caused by a thoroughly wet winter. In Arizona, we are already seeing proof of this on Lone Mountain where my studio space is located. Daily hikes up the mountain have revealed wild poppies, Gravel Ghost, Notchleaf Phacelia, and Brittlebush already in full bloom (see photos below). The white Gravel Ghost flower gets it’s name because the stems are so very thin that from a distance it appears the flowers are floating above the ground. For a botanical artist, all this early color is providing exciting inspiration and raised hope that it will carry over for our blossoming cacti as well! Hoping you will check out the article link and plan a visit to California or the Arizona desert to see this amazing event yourself. You just need to make sure you pack your allergy meds! 🙂


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SOLD! 

Agavamericana is a recent painting that sold before it was completed. Such an amazing compliment to an artist when a collector can envision the completion of a piece of work and share in the excitement for the completion of it as much as I am.

Carolyn has been a collector of my artwork since I was located in St. Charles on Cedar Avenue. She originally purchased a painting of mine when her daughter had indicated how perfect it would look in her new home in Texas. Shortly after that, Carolyn commissioned a piece as a wedding gift to her daughter that featured her daughter’s wedding bouquet flowers. Now, Carolyn has purchased this piece to hang in her own home! I am thrilled to see it there and honored to have such a supportive collector of my artwork that will last a lifetime.

Christmas, Commissions, and Designers…oh my!


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I LOVE COMMISSION WORK!

What an exciting Christmas I had this year. In October, I was approached by Tom to create this beautiful painting for his amazing wife, Cathy, for Christmas! At least once a year I am asked to make a commissioned piece of art as a gift. Tom sent me the dimensions of the space he wanted the piece to be hung on and he sent me photos of the room and decor so that we could make a painting that Cathy would absolutely love! It’s such an honor to be a small part of a loving couple’s celebration, whether it be Christmas, a birthday, or an anniversary. The process took approximately two months and arrived safe and sound. My favorite part…the photo that they sent me, revealing it’s final destination hung amongst their Christmas decorations! Thank you Tom and Cathy!

Buying original artwork is a really caring gift and it shows someone how truly important they are to you.


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I LOVE WORKING WITH INTERIOR DESIGNERS!

Another thing I truly enjoy is working with Interior Designers. A friend and collector of my artwork, Pam, reached out during the holidays because she spotted this photo while working with a local designer back in Illinois. She sent me the photo because she thought it looked so much like my artwork. That’s because IT WAS! I love meeting designers at their projects towards the end to help add the final touches to a beautifully decorated and constructed space. Plus it’s a great way for the clients to see the completed space while making an informative decision about the artwork.

A great bonus was having my artwork recognized outside of my studio space and across the country. I love that!


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Strelitzia – I have finished all sixteen in this series. Whew…what fun that was! You can see them all HERE.  Each is 12″ x 12″ framed in espresso wood.

Looking forward to starting on those Mexican Fence Post cactus paintings. Stay tuned!

Wishing you all a new year of love, laughter, success, and sunshine!

Cheers!  – Catie

Stretching these wings…

What a journey it has been…

I am thrilled to be posting this news! It has been quite a journey to get me back to the studio. As we are all aware, some of the greatest artists in history as well as today, have to put down their brushes and tools to make other important contributions. I am no different. I was fortunate enough to work in a job that I adored with people that I miss every day to help support my family during our transition to the desert. However, even while working a great job, the studio never stopped calling me. I would steal any time I could in my creative space, even if just to meditate and dream. During that time I wanted to reach out to you but mostly felt ashamed that I had nothing creative to share.

During the past few years I have expressed myself creatively in photography. Social Media can be an amazing lifeline in order to keep tethered to a world of expressionism. I utilized my free time visiting with family, hiking in the desert, discovering wildlife, and inhaling the beauty of the Sonoran Desert that I live in. I’m grateful to own a camera that also happens to make cell phone calls. 🙂

Gratefully, I have been given the opportunity to return to my studio. I have a wonderful casita on the other side of our courtyard that has been converted to my studio and gallery. I have been going back through my photographs over the past few years and compiling a body of work that I am excited to complete and share.

Your support during this left brain period has been greatly appreciated! Looking forward to sharing the interesting wildlife that is often seen in my yard as well as the stunning beauty of the Sonoran Desert with you. I have discovered that Scottsdale and Phoenix are amazing places for art and hope to share that with you as well.

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Strelitzia is the name for this exciting new series of work. I came across a large swath of bird of paradise blooms set against a cornflower blue sky a few months ago. My previous palette has been focused on a red/green compliment; however here in the desert the skies feature so many different shades of blue that it’s quite difficult to ignore. The blue against the fire orange petals popping through the bud like popcorn captured my heart and attention. This series will feature 16+ pieces in all, each 12″ x 12″. This first one will be included in the Sonoran Arts League’s Small Works show starting December 1st. As I paint them, I find that each one has it’s own personality that comes through. They currently look like a wall of family portraits and it makes me smile. Upon completion of the series, they will each be framed in dark wood and affordable enough to collect multiples of them to fit your space perfectly!

Sonoran skills…

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…it is gold and rust and sandy with a little pink and both warm and cool greens. The light vacillates between super bright sunlight to hazy upper clouds soft light to orange kissing sunset light. You can see grey in the oddest locations and in shadows browns of the Midwest become blacks in the desert. As an artist, it’s a brand new palette and I’m loving the challenge.

The flowers, while not as varied as other places, are exclamation points to all the greenery. The bright papery bougainvillea can be seen from very far away while the Peruvian apple cacti require an early morning viewing before they close up just after sunrise.

The thing that surprises me the very most here in the desert? How green it is all year long. It may not be green that we walk upon or lay on or roll around on….but instead the green reaches up to the sun. In that it teaches us to sway when things get windy, be planted where you are, bloom all year long, and always reach for the sky!

I am excited to focus on a new body of work while I also return to my beloved dahlias that I am not finished with. Oh, and I’m so happy to still be doing commission work and donated paintings for great causes!

Cheers!

Live ‘out loud’…

These three little words have consumed my mind of late. What does it mean to live ‘out loud’? For me, I believe it involves living one’s true self and shining as you do it.

Now previously and still, I am a firm believer that each of us has a particular path that our life’s journey happens on. Many other people’s paths will interchange with ours for a little while or a long while. Someone’s path may run parallel with ours while others run perpendicular. Some paths we come across may bring us gifts and others we may leave something behind from our path in order to help someone else out. Sometimes we abandon our path all together because life asks something more from us. Regardless of where we stand today, the path of who we are is still there waiting for us to simply recall where it is. The funny thing is when you relocate it, you most often didn’t even know you were off it.

When I moved to Arizona I was excited about my envisioned path to artistic stardom! I was going to come here to the great Southwest, try to summon my beloved Georgia O’Keeffe, and sit in my studio to create a fascinating body of work that would go to galleries and get gobbled up by new collectors. I had done everything I needed to do to prepare for this big artistic moment! I had come out to the desert for years gathering resources of cactus blooms and funky agave portraits. My brightly colored artwork was going to make a big splash here and finally I was going to artistically belong.

“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – Robert Burns

The only thing that occurred in my big vision is that I moved to Arizona. I have a job doing financial work for a company I love but never even knew existed. Every artist grieves when they have to get a ‘real job’ because it always seems a step further away from our dreams. I try and get into my studio once a week to keep these creative juices from drying up. For some time, I must admit I was existing in the shadows of embarrassment that I was no longer who I wanted to be, but instead was being who I needed to be. I was emotionally drained of who I thought I wanted to be because to try and be an artist who doesn’t make artwork is about the most heartbreaking thing for me to go through.

One of my survival tools to endure this great change is that I try to practice appreciating the details of my experiences. This practice allows me to be still and absorb all that is around me. In the stillness of being, that’s when the good stuff happens. Have you ever walked into a coffee shop that, upon entering, feeds your soul and makes you feel like you have spent a lifetime there already; or met someone that unknowingly reconnects the bonds of who you are with their gentle words or a soul seeing glance, or opened yourself to the colors of a radiant sunset allowing your brain and soul to reconnect in the silence? It’s important to pay attention to these lightning rod moments, for they lead us back to our true paths.

Through this newfound stillness, I have recently been fortunate enough to recognize unique moments when something or someone becomes the key to opening my awareness or becomes the bridge that helps me get back to my true path. I have recently experienced this bridge which has reconnected me with an amazing version of myself that was put away a lifetime ago. Through this connection, I have been able to refamiliarize myself with my young soul that was bold, fearless, light in spirit, and full of curiosity. Thanks to this bridge, I have a sense of belonging that I have not had in the past 21 months here and even longer in life along with the sense that I am back on my true path. I am still tenderly and slowly walking on my path, not having felt it for a long while, and discovering more about myself every day.

For me personally, my path is where the small things lie. My path is not a quick one, instead it is one of discovery and learning. My path is listening to the small details that surround us in nature, acknowledging the vibrations from the things we often don’t see, and sharing my passionate appreciation of it all. On my path; colors are richer, breezes feel sharper, birds fly faster, and I want to dance slower. I have also noticed on my path I walk a little taller, smile a little easier, and hug a little harder. It’s as if all these great parts of me were strewn along the path when I walked off it, but I am grateful to reconnect with them.

I believe in this reflection, for me, living life “out loud” is celebrating every nuance that surrounds me in a moment and realizing how I was meant to be right here, right now.

E-commerce -vs- Local Shopping

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Today I did something I have never wanted to do. I like to buy all my art supplies at local businesses…like Dick Blick or Utrecht to support these business who also serve art students. I do this because I remember needing something right away right away in school to work on a piece and I was always so grateful to be able to run to Utrect or Dick Blick or even Michael’s to pick it up. The stores would be gloriously stocked with anything you could ever want and most often you’d buy something cool while gathering a necessity. If Utrect or Blick stores were too far and it was an ART EMERGENCY (they exist!!), I would go to Michaels. Today I needed a tube of Windsor & Newton Quinacridone paint for a commissioned painting.  When I perused online, Utrect/Blick was going to cost me $30 for a small tube! Crazy high cost! So…I check Michaels and learned that they had it cheaper, however they don’t carry professional grade supplies in all their stores any longer.  If I purchased it online I would have to pay $10 to get it relatively quickly…like within 10 days. So…while I fidgeted in my seat (because of my desire to support local) I checked out Amazon…ding! Not only did I get it cheaper, but they will ship it free to receive it by tomorrow. I feel like I may have just sold a piece of my soul to the online devil and I feel really bad to do this…but businesses and e-commerce, I hope, will figure out a better solution. Some places, like Home Depot, will let you snag something online from their store and pick it up down the street relatively quickly and I wish more stores would do that. Perhaps someday I will be able to seek out smaller art supply stores that may be of assistance. Sigh….I am just happy to be able to get my paint by tomorrow.

Never miss an opportunity to teach…

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Sometimes while heading off on one field trip, I buzz by something that catches my eye. Often, I continue driving on my way as I contemplate whether or not I missed something that I will regret later.

Last week I was driving down Bell Road in the Woodridge area of Phoenix and I passed these large fabulous grey-green colored tree canopies that had the most crazy pink/peach clouds of fluff in them. It was hard to make out the tree blossoms at 45mph. As I continued on my way west, those distinct colors gnawed at me. Quickly I made a u-turn and headed back…knowing I would hate myself if I didn’t go back.

I quickly parked my car at a curbside, grabbed my camera, and skipped my way along the sidewalk of the very busy street. As I approached the tree my eyes widened in disbelief. I had never seen anything like these flower clusters raining down in pendulous bunches. I only had time to snap a few images and make sure to record the location for follow-up when I had the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to this horticultural goddess!

I counted the minutes for the next two days until my schedule opened enough for the time to get back to her. I ran back with a full camera battery and plenty of memory card space. During my time away, I also had done some research to initially discover it was a Eucalyptus tree. Days later I discovered it was now called a Red Gum – Corymbia ficifolia (formerly Eucalyptus ficifolia) to be specific. And there are actually FOUR trees in the parkway along Bell Road!

I pointed my eager camera up into the canopy and began snapping from every possible angle! Just then a very tall young guy came walking up. Have you ever realized when someone sees you looking up they tend to also look up? Anyway, this guy starts looking up and asks me if I am making art. I holster my camera and begin to rattle off all that I have recently learned about this tree and how rare it is to see them here in the desert in bloom. As I continued on, my new buddy’s wide open eyes now resemble mine and he actually seems a wee bit taller. In our conversation he shares that he grew up right around the corner and has passed these trees almost every day for years. In all that time, he admits, he never noticed these ping pong ball sized blooms nor has he paid attention to these trees. He thanked me for teaching him something new! I noticed a little skip in his step when he walked away and it reminded me how great it feels to discover and learn!

A large part of my art is to show and share things that most of us would just pass by and never really see. Some of the things I interpret and paint…and others I chronicle in photos. Receiving the confirmation from a stranger is the best feeling of all.

Posted while on a creative adventure!

The same difference + why blogs are good for the authors…

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Well, we moved…hmmm…moved seems too inadequate a word to describe relocating yourself and all your life’s belongings to the other side of the country that no longer resembles anything from before.  I guess that’s what happens when you take a Midwest girl and plunk her down in the desert.  It has been 63 profound days in Scottsdale, Arizona, yet feels like a year away from home. How long do you suppose before a new place becomes “home”? Thankfully, my past reflections can help me determine that answer.

When I first created this blog, I never had any clue how important it would be…to myself. As a kid (or adult) I never journaled or had a diary…I had a great memory instead. But what I never realized about those memories, is how affected they can be by emotional location (where your emotions are at the time of remembering). For that, this blog has become an invaluable tool to myself. I can look back and feel just where my emotional location was at various moments in my life over these past years.

We’ve done this before; relocated back in 2010 from the Chicago area to the Milwaukee area for only 15 months. While I was less than 2 hours from home, it still felt a world away. On a dark emotional day (perhaps homesick) I wrote a blog post comparing being an artist to “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Kundera.  In reading that post again…this is the message that I try to carry with me wherever I am…

Being an artist is also about sharing a particular view of the world.  I believe we look at common things with an uncommon eye.  We feel emotional impulses from objects, ideas, inspirations.  I don’t believe that just because we happen to have a job as a counselor, waitress, customer service rep, or assistant that we lose our ability to see and feel the world as we artists do. 

Yes, we live this particular life only once.  However, we do live for a lifetime in which we create a lifetime of artwork.  For some that may be 10,000 pieces of artwork and for others it may mean 3.  The important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself while surviving your life, embrace your artistic self in all that do (art and non-art related), and do something creative each day even if it’s cooking something different or taking a photograph with your smart phone.

There is an unbearable lightness or likeness of being an artist, but the defining moment is how you choose to allow it to define you.

So, these days while the sun is shining upon my face here in the desert and I am feeling unrooted, I look back at this and find a way to be kinder to myself and remember that artwork is created over a lifetime and in many different ways.  I also find in these reflections a confirmation of my subject matter and what flowers continue to teach me. For example, cacti (when removed from their connected “siblings”) must harden off a bit before you can put them back into the ground to grow. So, here I am rediscovering my new home, and in that I look forward to growing!

As a side note:  I am so grateful to be living close to and sharing time with my parents again; it has been 20 years since they had left the Midwest. My hubby, Dan, and I have been enjoying getting to know Scottsdale and finding our new studio location! I am equally grateful for my amazing friends who have reached out to me with their love and positive rays of sunshine. When I am feeling “unrooted” I tend to close up, but those who have reached a hand to me….you have made these 63 days profound and I thank you.