by Cathleen Windham
When I first began painting, about 2006, I was anxious to find my style and kept wondering where and what it was. I suppose I felt the need to push quickly beyond the beginner phase of painting because I got a late start in my artistic endeavors. I kept hearing from other artists, “It will come to you, you’ll find it, just keep painting.” So I did just that—-kept painting.
Most of my early work had been landscapes. Trees, rocks, water, skies and the like. I seemed to really struggle and fight with my paint. I couldn’t “see” values well, harmony seemed to escape me. Rarely did I seem to come out a victor.
But about 1 ½ years ago, I sketched out a scene from a photo I had taken in Denver of a delivery truck I had spotted while visiting my brother. I had driven around the block several times to catch that truck through my lens. Now there it was on my computer monitor. I recalled how the, shiny turquoise blue paint clashed against the gritty, cluttered alley as I started to block it in on my canvas. Within minutes, the truck and the alley it roamed down were coming to life! The values were right, the color harmony was coming together nicely and there had been no struggle in the field.
Thinking surely this was a fluke; I followed that painting with another urban type scene, this time in plein air. Same result—less struggle and pleasing results! Another successful “urban” painting followed that one! I began to pay more attention to potential painting locations around me, what I like to photograph, what scenes really inspired me.
But for some reason I felt a little guilty about not loving to paint “landscapes”.
And then one day out of the blue it hit me. There’s absolutely no artists law book that says “You MUST paint landscapes or all your brushes will explode in a ball of fire!” It was perfectly acceptable to paint urban streets and power lines, dumpsters in alleys, tires piled up in front of a decaying shop, or funky little stucco apartments with scrubby little shrubs.
And with that, the tilt toward urban began.
I continued to do city-scapes, and having always been fascinated with nocturnes, I began to experiment with painting the “dark”.
One night down on Holly Street, magic happened. Within an hour or so of painting, I had a nice nocturne coming together that represented the scene effectively, and beautifully. I literally did a little dance on the dark sidewalk that evening. That painting, “Evening Attire”, was the first painting I sold at Art & Invention Gallery in East Nashville.
Thus the journey to “Nine Nights of Nocturnes” began. So many people have never seen an artist work in plein air. I love painting this way in the city because more people are exposed to this method of painting and art. Couple that with the seemingly “magical” approach to painting the night, and you have something really special!
The locations where I’ll be painting for the “9 Nights” are little slices of life from this city I love so much. Having the enthusiasm and support of Red Arrow Gallery has propelled this project to reality! I’m so excited to share this project and the paintings with my onlookers and collectors!
Oh, and I do still occasionally wander out into an enticing green pasture full of chiggers and cow-patties. But I don’t leave feeling guilty if it’s just not in the cards for my canvas that day….
Cathleen will be set up for her first nocturne this Saturday on 5th & Church during First Saturday this weekend.