I was almost relieved to discover in 2004 that I was an artist. It helped me understand my self so much better. My mom is such a big influence in my life and had been painting and selling her work for about 10 years at the time. I was living with my husband and three children in New Orleans. My mom and I would talk all the time about her art work and I would find myself trying to tell her what to paint. I had never painted before in my life. I had always played sports in school and never elected to be in any art classes, never took any in college.
We took a trip to Memphis, TN to visit with my parents that summer. I decided I would use all of my mom's stash of art supplies and try my hand at painting. I painted five paintings in three days and my mom took them down to a gallery where she was selling her work. To my surprise four of them sold in a little over a month, so I decided maybe I should start painting.
I grew up in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Received a degree in marketing from Mississippi State University. My husband and I moved to Oxford, MS in 1992 where my three children were born. We moved to New Orleans in 1999 until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Our home was flooded and we moved to Memphis, TN.
People ask me what inspires me in painting. I think that I do have that inate thing artists need which is a sense of color. That, I believe, is God given. My paintings are about layering. I am inspired by modernism but i could never create that perfectionistic, precise version of modern art. My best paintings emerge with mistakes beneath, peeking out from under the surface. I am inspired by all things interesting and un-boring. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in a small town in Mississippi. You get to know the characters of your place and they seep into your make-up. Moving to New Orleans awakened all my senses to color in every realm of life. If New Orleans is anything, it could never be considered boring. There, I got to know so many talented people. I fell in love with jazz and zydeco music. The food. There is no need to describe it unless you have never experienced it. Mardi Gras, the architecture, the old live oak trees, meeting several people who walk around with huge parrots on their shoulder. The old lady who rides around uptown on a bike with a basket on the front in vaudville looking makeup. Nobody even pays attention to the guy walking on Magazine Street in a red tutu because there are so many characters. So, I have to say that just living in New Orleans inspired me tremendously. Interesting people inspire me. My children inspire me because they are so funny and keep my life from being anything but dull. My husband is inspiring to me because he is such a fun, and passionate person. Truly my best friend. He supports me and puts up with all the reasons why I was relieved to find out I was an artist (I have a life time of good excuses now).
My work really began to take off after Katrina which was such amazing providence for all sorts of reasons. It gave me something to lose myself in during such a traumatic time in my life. It helped our family make it through the financial chaos of rebuilding our flooded home.
We live in midtown Memphis now which has been a soft landing place for us. Midtown is the part of Memphis that is most like New Orleans where I can see different types of people, different kinds of houses, struggle even. It resonates with me most.
As an artist, I feel like I am on a journey of discovery. I hope to continue painting with acrylics and oil pastels, but would love to some day try oils as well as many different forms of sculpture. I am fascinated by shape and balance which is what drives me now in much of my work.
Cathy Lancaster's work highlighted in a home tour on EDDIE ROSS STYLE BLOG
. See how Cathy's work adds to this beautiful home.