Everyone’s journey in life takes a few twists and turns, especially those who choose to pursue art. Take Cathy Sheeter, who grew up in a family that encouraged her creativity from a very young age. In fact, one of her earliest memories consists of her holding crayons. Cathy’s mom even made a point to draw coloring books for her to play with.
As she grew up, Cathy was fascinated with nature and animals. Although she felt pulled toward art, she decided to earn a degree in animal sciences. She figured she could work in genetics but was left feeling disappointed when she realized most of her days would be spent in a lab as opposed to out in the field. All the while as she tried to navigate her career, creating art remained a passion.
“Throughout my time in college I would continue to do my art recreationally, making money doing pet portraits for classmates and entering my work into county fairs,” she says. “In college, I focused on pencil drawing, but after college, I went back to scratchboard.”
Her interest in this medium was revived after seeing a scratchboard exhibition in a museum setting –– and it was then she knew art was her true calling. Cathy was also happy to find that her passions –– art and animals –– were more aligned than she’d originally realized.
Scratchboard, which is created out of thousands of lines and scratch marks, is a wonderful medium to capture the intricacies of any subject, but particularly the animals Cathy admires, including bears, horses and birds. Today, her works are so eye-catching that most people who pass it will pause before taking a step closer to see how such a rendering is even possible.
All scratchboards consist of three layers. Cathy uses a brand that has masonite at the bottom, white kaolin clay in the middle and a final layer of dark ink. When she begins a piece, she turns to sharp tools to scratch in shapes and textures, including sandpaper, tattoo needles, Exacto knives, steel wool and fiberglass brushes. When these remove the dark ink, the white layer underneath becomes exposed, allowing her to capture sharp details in her subject matter.
“Because the white is clay, it’s also absorbent,” Cathy says. “I can then come back over the top of my scratches with colored inks and tint the scratches with those colored inks. This enables me to do either black and white or colored works.”
While the medium of scratchboard gives Cathy creative freedom, it’s her love of nature that truly unleashes her creative energy. Living in Colorado means she can spend ample time exploring, whether it’s birding in her favorite spots in Rocky Mountain National Park or scouting and taking pictures of new and undiscovered places.
“I’m out in nature as much as I can be gathering reference for my artwork,” she says. “Nature is everywhere, from a dandelion growing up through a crack in the sidewalk to being out in nature where it feels like no one is around for thousands of miles.”
Cathy’s discoveries are our delights, and her studio at the Celebration of Fine Art is often filled with visitors who share her wonder of nature and sincere love of animals. Now in her second year at the show, Cathy’s following only continues to grow.
“I’m one of the relative newbies to this family,” Cathy says. “I appreciate the genuine interest of the people who talk with me and get to know my medium and understand my inspiration.”
See more of Cathy’s story here: