Category Archives: Inspiration

Let art inspire a room makeover- The story of a purple vase

Ever buy something and then get home and realise it doesn’t go anywhere?

You know how it is, you find something you adore and perhaps spend more than you ought, only to find it doesn’t quite fit in with what you’ve already got. Don’t Panic, all may not be lost! Let the art inspire a room makeover.

©2009 Cathy Read - Mine's a red - 35x25cm Mixed Media on paper
©2009 Cathy Read – Mine’s a red – 35x25cm Mixed Media on paper

Let art inspire a room and you create something new and exciting.

Let me tell you about a gentleman I encountered at an Art Fair a few years ago. We were discussing how people often buy art so that it fits in a room. He agreed then recalled an impulse buy he’d made a few years earlier. A purple vase, a particularly beautiful purple vase he couldn’t resist. He bought it and took it home and as soon as he started to unwrap it he began to regret his impulsiveness. It clashed with the room. It was modern, the rest of the decor was more classic. The colours jarred. He was almost resigned to hiding it away in a cupboard but he looked at it again and was seduced by its beauty. It was an expensive piece.

Maybe he could make this work?

The room was overdue for painting and he was already planning to redecorate in a more neutral colour.

So, after clearing the room, he painted it as planned. Then, choosing one of the colours in the vase, he got matching paint and created a feature wall. Next he looked at the furniture he had and only brought in pieces back into the room that he knew would work with the new scheme. He was surprised to find that some of the furniture he’d had in the room worked well once he’d separated them from the pieces which obviously clashed.

He bought some soft furnishings to fit and finally was able to display his new vase in pride of place. The room was transformed and is now his favourite place to be when he’s home. Previously he used the room only when necessary but never lingered once he’d finished his paperwork. Now he wanted to stay in there and enjoy the ambience.

Advantages when you let art inspire a room.

  1. You will probably end up with something more adventurous that you would have without it.
  2. You know you like the art. Consider what most appeals to you about the piece? You don’t have to mirror just the colours, you can also use textures and materials, such as stone, to reflect the art in other areas of the room
  3. If you like the colours in the art, you will like the colours of the room, although you may need to be careful to get the right balance. There is a whole world of colour theory out there. If you’re not sure seek professional advice from an Interior designer, Who will probably suggest you find pieces you love to help them with the process. If you choose a colour go for one or two at most. Feature walls are a great way to add some colour without overdoing it.
  4. If you like the bright colours in the painting, but don’t want everything bright in the room, remember white and neutral colours won’t clash with anything and will lend an air of sophistication.
  5. You can always use the colour in soft furnishings so they can be easily changed if you can’t live with them.
  6. You might not need to do as much as you initially think. You may well already have many of the things you need to make a new room work. We are often drawn to similar things. Chances are there will be things in other items you own that work with the new piece.

Got any stories of art inspired transformations?

I’d love to hear them!





Gallery: inspiration outside and in?

Do you enjoy visiting a Gallery?

And if you do, what inspires you most, the art…

Or the building?

“Look at lots of art” is the most common Art advice I’m given. Well, besides “keep practicing”!

And it’s true, Artists gain inspiration from visiting Art Galleries. Most frequently this comes from the art they see.

But galleries can be exhibits in their own right.

Take Victorian galleries:

Giant edifices, celebrating the skills of their time.Grand and imposing with a mindboggling degree of decoration.

Contemporary galleries may favour simplicity.

Aiming for a Neutral space, a white box in which the art is allowed to speak for itself. The epitomy of the minimalist ethos.

While others shout “look at me!” to the visitor.

Like The Lowry, in my painting below. Their contemporary architecture attracts a different type of attention. You either love it or hate it. Designed to be noticed and elicit a reaction. It’s bold in its design and internal use of colour, certainly attracted my attention.

©2011- Cathy Read - The Lowry - Mixed Media - 30 x 40 cm
©2011- Cathy Read – The Lowry – Mixed Media – 30 x 40 cm


Whether it’s to your taste or not is a different matter?

Distinctive in it’s canalside location. It’s a landmark and location that the locals should take pride in. The Fountain of Inspiration can be hard to find. I’m all for anything which adds to my Source.

Then there are the Converted spaces

Like the Tate Modern with its vast engine hall dwarfing all but the most impressive of sculptures.

And there are other Galleries out there to inspire you in themselves as well as with the art. I know I haven’t begun to scratch the surface.

So next time you’re in a gallery, look at the architecture as well as the art, you may surprise yourself.

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What can the Olympics teach artists?

Olympians and Artists have more in common than you might think.

I’m not a sports fan but with the Olympics fever gripping the UK. I’m forced to notice sport.

Buoyed along by the fervour and sense of National pride, I’ve even watched parts. The opening ceremony and parts of events.

©2010 Cathy Read - The heart of a nation- Dimensions 28x38 cm - mixed media on paper

The enthusiasm is infectious.

But more than that you are witnessing people at the pinnacle of their careers.

But you don’t just wake up one morning as a Gold medalist!

You might wake up with the vision or dream but it’s only the first step of many. Long hours and punishing training regimes are necessary to become an elite athlete.

Working to achievable goals.

Steps along the path that bring them closer to their ultimate goal. There will be many, many failures along the way. But each goal achieved is a step in the right direction.

And the same is true of an artist.

You may wake up with a dream of what you want to be. But it takes time and training to get there. you need to make steady steps in the right direction. Learning techniques, developing your style. Gaining experience exhibiting and talking about your work. Developing practices. Researching the right opportunities for you. And the list goes on…

Above all you need to develop a positive mental attitude.

To visualise success and focus on your ultimate goal! Fighting past the failures. And there will be many otherwise you’re not taking any risks and risks are necessary for any artist to grow.

So are you inspired by the Olympics?

What will be your “GOLD”?

Can Olympic flames inspire dreams in the disinterested?

Dreams are important…  Vital even.

Nothing was ever achieve that wasn’t someone’s dream!

It’s a sobering thought.

The screen you’re reading this on, the building you’re in, even the chair you’re sitting on.

All were once an idea in somebody’s head.

Today I watched the Olympic flame pass through Buckingham.

Olympic flame passing through Buckingham
Olympic flame passing through Buckingham

The Olympic games don’t interest me much but the flame is a potent symbol of hope and optimism.

Like a Dream, it’s ephemeral and intangible.

It’s fragile…

Easily extinguished

Yet Powerful!

With the potential to travel rapidly and ignite a fire in others.

(If you’ll excuse the old metaphor)

And any athlete will tell you you need to focus to achieve a dream.

To evaluate what you’re doing and need to do to achieve the dream.

Which is what I’m doing. With a spate of exhibitions over, I’m reviewing the situation.

No, the dream hasn’t changed, but I’m aware I need to focus my energies on specific goals

It’s one thing to have a dream, we all have dreams.

But aim to live that dream as well.

So how about you, does the Olympic flame ignite you goals?

Teamwork Lessons in a Music video?

Life’s hectic and sometimes we just need inspiring.

5 people play 1 guitar

Did I mention I’m organising a group Art exhibition in Oxford?

Well, there have been problems.

Nothing major but sometimes a volume of little issues can be overwhelming. And, as a friend, once advised me…

Getting artists to work together can be like herding cats!

They are a lovely bunch of people and it’s an honour to be working with them.

However, the creative personality lends itself to ideas and flights of fancy. And while that’s good…

It needs to be tempered with a healthy dose of practical application and discipline.

Otherwise the dreams will remain just that…


It’s also inevitable that with 11 people working together there will be differences of opinion.

Levels of self belief are another variable.

I could write a whole post on this, but in summary. You must believe what you produce is good. Otherwise, how can you expect to convince anyone else?

Personally, my self belief waxes and wanes.

When everything’s going well I can conquer the earth!

But on a bad day…

Well, everyone’s like that aren’t they?

So when the problems seem overwhelming, I like to look elsewhere for inspiration.

This week a friend introduced me to this video. It’s become an internet phenomenon. And reminds me that some things are really worth the effort.

Firstly I love the song, both original by Gotye and this cover by Walk off the Earth.

But, it’s the ingenuity of this video that really inspiring.

Working with other people on a project is awesome, especially with results like this!

How long did it take them to arrange and rehearse? I don’t know. There must have been some power play for who played/sang which part. After all, they have one instrument and 5 people!

They make it work by turning the restriction into a strength!

I find that very encouraging!

So, what’s inspired you to persevere this week?

Meanwhile, I’m off to harness some co-operative effort and discipline for Oxford…

How guitarist loses fingers but still becomes a legend! Artists don’t quit!

©2011 - Cathy Read - Spread of Influence - 15x21cm- Mixed media
©2011 - Cathy Read - Spread of Influence - 15x21cm- Mixed media

Do you ever struggle keeping on task?

Or want to quit?

This week everything seems to be keeping me away from my art. This is when I look for inspiration in the amazing stories of people who overcome adversity.

People who keep on doing what they love in spite of obstacles.

I’m a music lover…

And, the story of Tony Iommi is inspiring!

Tony Iommi

Tony’s band are Black Sabbath. And his career as the lead guitarist was taking off. So he quit his job in a factory to concentrate on playing full time.

On his very last day at work he had an accident. Losing the tips of 2 of his fingers.
Now unable to reach the strings to play chords, he could easily have stopped playing.

But he didn’t quit!

Restringing his guitar with lighter stings and making finger extensions so he could reach  the strings…

Tony carried on playing!

He’s is now considered one of the finest guitarists in the world!

Listen to him play  and you’ll see why!

It’s easy to give up when things get in the way.

To make excuses and we feel better… for a little while. But it’s important to remind ourselves that. If we really want to do something nothing should stop us.

Overcoming hurdles is the only way!

And the hurdles are usually in our minds. We have but one short life. Making our dreams reality is the only way to live it!

What about you, are you working towards your dream or still asleep?

Maybe you’ll inspire someone in the future too!

Now, I’m off to paint!