Reflections from Nature
Brisbane based artist, Catherine Carolan explores her themes using a range of textures, patterns and colours. Her work is whimsical, abstracted and beams a feeling of happiness. You can see her beach-side influences echo in her art; something she refers to as an "endless source of inspiration".
How long have you been creative and what do you specialise/experiment in? ~ I have been creative for as long as I can remember. As a child I taught myself to draw people from copying comic books. In my teens I painted my favourite celebrities and pop stars. While I was doing my Illustration degree in London I began experimenting with screen-printing, both on paper and fabric. Nowadays I paint with acrylics. I love it because it’s quick, versatile and fast drying. I tend to rework and recycle my paintings a lot. I like the fact that I have more control with the medium of paint than I did with the more mechanical process of screenprinting. I can take my time to focus on the colours and the mark making. If I’m anxious or worried I find it very relaxing to just go with the flow and get into the zone where my subconscious can take over. It’s probably the reason I’m painting more abstracts now.
You’re based in Brisbane and spent many years working and studying in London at Westminster University what were your experiences during that time and have those experiences changed the way you look at art? ~ I love to learn about history and in London I was surrounded by it. The British Museum was my second home and the art and mythology of the ancient world was a huge inspiration. My screen prints focused on the representation of women and the goddess in mythology and the ancient language of pattern, motif and symbols. My paintings today explore many of the same themes as my screen prints did, they are colourful and multi-layered with lots of detail and reflect the organic and sculptural shapes and patterns within nature.
Where do you get your inspiration from? ~ I see inspiration all around me whenever I am close to nature. I grew up in a small Queensland town beside the beach and I’m a beach girl at heart. The beach, the ocean and all forms of marine life have always been an endless source of inspiration. Birds and fish are favourite subjects of mine to paint because of their variety of colour, pattern and texture. I’m forever staring at the trees, leaves and flowers, ripples on the water or the clouds in the sky.
What are your artistic goals for the next 12 months? ~ To reach out to a wider audience through competitions and group exhibitions and to get enough work together for a solo exhibition.
How did you become an Aspirant artist and what opportunities has it afforded you? ~ Aspire Gallery has been great. They hold lots of group exhibitions throughout the year so I make sure I enter as many as possible. It gets me out of the house and back into the art world where I’m meeting some amazing people. I’ve sold quite a few paintings through Aspire Gallery which has been a huge confidence boost. The Aspirant artists recently had our first group exhibition “Regeneration” which was fantastic.
What does success mean to you? ~ To have a happy, healthy family and to be able to paint full time and support myself through my art. It also means no more artist blocks and being totally satisfied with every finished piece! I know this is totally unrealistic but I’m a bit of a perfectionist.
You have illustrated a children’s book, how did you find this opportunity and would you illustrate more books in the future? ~ On my return to Australia nearly 15 years ago, I was soon busy at home with three children under five. Somehow I found the time to be creative and painted the things my children loved, lots of mermaids, fairies and animals. Gradually I built up a small portfolio of work and sent it out to various children’s book publishers. Unfortunately this was around the time of the stock market crash and the finished book never made it to print. But I learned a lot and gained some valuable experience.
While I wouldn’t rule out writing and illustrating my own children’s book in the future, right now I’m loving the direction my work is taking and enjoying the opportunity to experiment and learn new things.
What are your other interests? ~ Long walks with my kids and the dog, yoga, history, particularly women’s history and feminism, science and nature and how to protect the environment. I love to read and want to learn as much as I can. I would also love to travel more but with twins on the autistic spectrum it can be difficult. I travel in my imagination instead.
How do you work on promoting your brand? ~ I try to keep my Instagram and Facebook pages up-to-date and take every opportunity to get my work exhibited, but self promotion is something I need to work on. I’m hoping to develop my own website and maybe find gallery representation in the near future.