Evolving a style - From Caricatures to Abstracts

Where did it all begin?

Last time I shared a brief history, but where did the art come from? Well, after struggling with a young family and the Occupational Therapy practice, I decided to put OT on the backburner Dec 2006. At that stage my youngest was 20 months old and I intended returning when he was at school. For a while I enjoyed the freedom and time to explore whatever interested me. By April 2008 I’d realised I didn’t want to return to OT, despite how much fun this looks.

Cathy Read at Balance Write Therapy Grooup promo image
Cathy Read at Balance Write

I wanted an Art career!

It was as simple as that and it all actually happened right on April 1st. Maybe I was deciding to be an April Fool? Part of the process was actually telling people. I did feel a fool voicing the idea, but I knew that if I didn’t tell anyone – it wouldn’t happen.

Life has a funny way of leading you down rabbit holes, if you let it. When I became an artist I had no idea what to expect. Even calling myself an artist was alien. The first thing any artist has to do is accept what they are. Sure, my skills were extremely rusty and I had no illusions, but I did have a plan. A very vague and nebulous one. It was this: to earn a living creating portraits and caricatures. I couldn’t think of myself as an artist back then. No grand ideas and schemes, just
a steady little job, all low key like.

And so I set about practicing, found books and attended courses. Caricaturing and cartoons are the poor relation in the art world. There’s a perception that, because they appear simple, they are easy to do. Far from it. Simple lines are extremely difficult as every shake and nuance are recorded. The key to good caricatures is practice, lots of it, through reams of paper. It’s a good discipline and kept me busy. I
could get a likeness but I soon realised that the best caricature artists are good performers and you needed models. This is also true with portraits.

That’s not me, I have to focus on the art or entertaining, but not both at the same time. It took me a while to realise this but I knew there was a path that would work for me. I just had to find it. This Ewan McGregor painting was created during my “Caricature Phase”.

Caricature of Ewan McGregor as Jedi Knight
Caricature of Ewan McGregor as Jedi Knight by Cathy Read

Discovering Abstracts

Abstract flowers painting - ©2008 Cathy Read
Abstract flowers - ©2008 Cathy Read - 29.7x21cm - Watercolour, india ink, mica powder on Bristol board.

The abstract style began in September 2008 as I experimented with masking fluid, using a colour shaper to apply it. The result was quite promising and Abstract Flowers, was the first of many in this style.

Although pleased with the result, I wasn’t happy with the masking fluid application method. While deliberating, I wondered if the ruling pen in my childhood maths set would work. It did. Then I saw the compasses and thought “Oooh, Circles!”. The circle abstracts were born. Here is Order in Chaos, an early circle abstract.

I’ve since learnt that ruling pens are a recommended tool, but I never knew prior to that moment.

Next Time, you’ll hear how my architecture art developed from here. I promise, we’re getting there. Sometimes, {$name}, the route to finding the right path is a long one. Have you ever found that?

©2009 Cathy Read - Order in chaos - 35x25cm Mixed Media on paper
Order in chaos - ©2009 Cathy Read - 35x25cm Watercolour and acrylic ink on paper
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