Cathy Smale is in her fifth and final year as a fellow with Digswell Arts, working full time from her studio at the Fenners Building in Letchworth Garden City.
How would you describe your current practice?
My paintings are usually very descriptive, illustrating the details and personality of a bird, describing a townscape or mapping out a landscape. I often work on many pieces at the same time, usually depicting a particular location and focusing on the details that interest me, or are unique to that place or time.
I have spent much of the last year working on private commissions, to specific briefs from clients that include their memorable places or events, combining conversations and photographs to paint unique and bespoke artworks.
What are you working on at the moment ?
I am currently between commissions, and relaxing by painting a new flock of little birds. I love painting these smaller canvases and focusing on the markings and characteristics of British wildlife.
But on the other side of my studio, is a larger canvas ready and beckoning, and I’m excited to start my next commissioned piece.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I only have two months remaining at the studios as my five year fellowship with Digswell Arts draws to a close. There is much tidying and clearing ahead, as I relocate my workspace, and inbetween times I hope to finish a few outstanding paintings and organise a final exhibition of my work – using the gallery space at the Fenners Studios to showcase my paintings and celebrate my time working here.
What is the question you get asked most about your work and how do you answer it?
People are often intrigued by the way that I work, both in planning the compositions and applying the paint. I have a fairly recognisable style of painting where layers of paint are built up over the initial drawings and research, with the outlines remaining amongst the textures and patterns neatly created by my palette knife.
What or who inspired you to be an artist and why?
I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I haven’t wanted to be an artist. But realising that it was possible has been truly inspiring. So it was probably that moment when I first approached a gallery, who then sold my first painting, which encouraged me to pursue a full time artistic career.
Which artist do you most admire and why?
Too many to mention, and not just the famous ones… Any artist who is dedicated to their craft and hardworking in their ambition.
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts Trust strengthened your practice as an artist?
Having a professional workspace has allowed me to concentrate and I’m able to work on larger pieces, have more works in progress, and be more disciplined about my working day. It’s great having other artists at work nearby too, sharing artistic concerns and ambitions.
I am very grateful for the opportunity of fellowship and studio with Digswell Arts, and hope to be as happy in my future workspaces.