Cathy Smale is in her first year as a Fellow with Digswell Arts at The Fenners Building, Letchworth Garden City.
- How would you describe your current practice (e.g. materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
Busy! I have so many ideas and images running around my mind, I get inspired so easily, and just want to paint everything. I suppose really though, it’s my approach to painting that is fairly unique. I have a recognisable style which is applied to various different subjects, layers of paint built up over the initial drawing, using a palette knife to create texture and pattern.
- What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops etc)?
It’s all about Open Studios at the moment. September is fast approaching and it’s usually around this time of year that I start panicking about having enough work to show.
It’s an event that’s held in studios across the county, organised by Herts Visual Arts. This year, I’m using the exhibition room at Fenners, with another artist Amy Wilson. She uses looms, and does a lot of bespoke designer weaving, quite different to my paintings! I’m also organising with the other artists at Fenners to have an Open Day in conjunction with this, where all the studios will be open to visitors. Hopefully a busy and exciting week, intriguing enough to entice lots of visitors!
The Open Day will be on Saturday, September 5th, and then Amy and I will continue showing and demonstrating our work all week, finishing on Sunday, September 13th.
- What are your plans for the coming year?
The plan has always been to paint a larger body of work, so I’ll continue with that, aiming to create some masterpieces. Then I need to approach some new galleries, and organise a solo show. But mostly it’s about producing more work and enjoying my studio time with Digswell Arts.
I’m also involved in several local projects, including the Rhythms of the World Festival, and planning is already underway to build on the success of this year’s “Art Park”, and really strengthen the visual arts side of the festival.
- What is the question you get asked most about your work and how do you answer it?
“What do you paint?” That’s usually the first one, and Landscapes is the answer. All sorts of landscapes; woodlands, seasides, towns, fields… Sometimes it’s about describing the patterns and repetitions, colours or seasons, and other times the larger details, like the landmarks of a city.
- 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 is possible has been truly inspiring.
After studying Art (and Maths) at University, I just painted in the evenings and had a “real job” during the day. Then someone encouraged me to approach a gallery, and I sold my first painting. Over time I sold more, went part time, painted in my garage two days a week, and now I’m a full time artist. I get to paint all day every day, and it’s amazing!
- Which artist do you most admire and why?
Too many to mention, and not just the celebrity 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 allows 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, I enjoy the occasional cup of tea and chat, sharing artistic concerns and ambitions.