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Artist Interview: Cathy McMurray

July 14th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Cathy McMurray is an artist, photographer, art lover and blogger (Habit of Art) from Portland, Oregon. At one point she had a fabulous art and design shop called Olio and also worked in arts education for a number of years. You may remember her from the Brooklyn Meets Portland series in which Cathy and I interviewed well-known artists from our respective cities.

Cathy and I became blog buddies through a shared love of Portland artist, Jill Bliss. Over the last year since the inception of both Art Hound and Habit of Art, Cathy and I have stayed in touch and encouraged each other’s endeavors.

What’s been really fascinating for me has been watching Cathy pick her art back up in a serious way. There are many consistent themes in Cathy’s work such as the natural elements and her graphic but organic visual language, but her work has progressed as she has honed her voice and found ways to incorporate her art with her crafting interests… So I asked Cathy to share some thoughts on her journey so far.

.Tell us about your journey getting back into art?

I have always wanted to work full-time on my art, and when my store closed last fall, I thought it was the right time to go for it. The past year has definitely been a journey of self-discovery.  At first, I felt very “rusty,” and I knew that it would take some time to grow into my style.  There were many days that I would sit at my desk with artist’s block.  Drawing in my sketchbook always helps. Sometimes I take a break altogether and work on other projects, whether it’s photography, sewing, or working on my blog.

Eureka, available on etsy

You’ve recently started translating some of your drawings and paintings into embroidery. Why embroidery?

In the last fifteen years, I’ve actually spent more time learning traditional crafts like hand quilting and crocheting than drawing and painting.  I enjoy working in different mediums and have only recently begun to combine various disciplines in my work.  I first started using embroidery after I figured out how to print my drawings on fabric.  I like how it adds another layer of interest to the designs.

How has your art progressed in the year since you took it back up?

The first part of the year was spent experimenting with different materials and creating a lot of new compositions. Lately, I’ve been spending more time building upon ideas.  I’m now ready to start focusing on a series rather than individual pieces. I’m hoping that the embroidered drawings will become my first series. I’m currently in the process of creating new designs.

What has it been like to make art and blog about it?
As an artist who works from home, I can be easily distracted from working on my art. The blog is an accountability tool for me.  When I started the blog, I said that I would post new work every week, and so far, I’ve kept that promise.  And, I love the fact that I can get an immediate response from readers to my work!  I’ve actually changed direction on a piece because of feedback that I’ve received on my blog.

(Fill in the blank) In three years I’d like to be…

…published in an art book.  Honestly, I haven’t put much thought into this; I just think it would be fun to see my work in a book.  One day, I’d like to work on a children’s book, but that’s more than three years out!

I’d also like to have a studio space separate from my home.  I actually love working at home, but I’d like more space to sprawl out, especially when working on large sewing projects. My dream is to build a zero-carbon art studio in our backyard.

Thanks, Cathy! By the way, I’m digging your clear frames!