SEPTEMBER 2017 Art Exhibit

Cathy Coe

Artist Statement

For me art is a calling.  I have no choice, I have to do it. I came to it rather serendipitously after taking a spontaneous but divinely guided workshop with a friend.

The rest is history. I started in my kitchen, quickly converted my garage to a studio, and subsequently rented a series of studios in Novato and Sausalito. I enrolled in art classes, took more workshops, squeezed art making into every available minute I had in my busy schedule.  About five years ago, I signed up for a nine-month mentoring program with a remarkable artist and teacher, Nick Wilton. Nick not only helped me crystalize my visual vocabulary and point of view, he also gave me the cup of courage I needed to create a significant body of work (18 pieces!).

For several years, I focused my energy on printmaking. My printmaking experience made me a better painter and vice versa. I work on all kinds of surfaces with all kinds of materials. I often paint on boards so I can sand the surface to reveal previous layers. I love color—itis often my starting point. I spend a considerable amount of time mixing colors before I begin a painting.  Color excites me and gets my creative juices flowing.  I like to build up the surface of a painting. I find the layering process infinitely gratifying. I don’t get stuck on a certain part of a painting (which is the kiss of death, especially early in the process). In addition, I create a historical context, a backstory that gives the piece substance and weight. To create tension and interest, I juxtapose bold, heavily textured surfaces with smooth, quiet surfaces.

‘Happy accidents’ are especially interesting. When the paint drips, when I paint over something and what’s underneath shows through, a spontaneous shape or line. One of my biggest challenges as an artist is to end up with an overall visual experience that is, on one hand, coherent and compelling, and on the other, spontaneous, provocative, and imperfect.   Part of my process is to give myself over to the dialogue that comes up while I am painting. As I mix up paint and lay it down, I get a sense of direction. Thus begins an intimate dialogue with the painting. This dialogue between the artist and the work is, for me, the crux of the creative process. You must a good listener; you must be patient.  A writer by trade and avid reader, it’s not surprising that my work often takes on a narrative quality. I create lyrical places where viewers are encouraged to use their imaginations, to see something new, unique, and often very personal. When this happens—when different people have wildly different stories to tell about the same piece, I consider the work successful.

Ella Rose Cleaveland & Mercer Jackson

Mercer Jackson Artist Statement

I guess I have always been interested in art. I remember when a classmate and I painted a mural on the back wall of our fourth grade classroom.  And, in high school, I was intrigued by a Norman Rockwell painting on the Saturday Evening Post which featured a sad black Cocker Spaniel.  I bought three tiny tubes of oil paint, black, red and white, and one brush, and painted the dog on a piece of redwood left over from some remodeling.

But I was distracted by raising five children, moving frequently, and then; going back to school to get my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees when the youngest was in first grade.

I finally discovered the art world when I attended an art class at Fort Mason in San Francisco.  I still remember the teacher, Irene Halpern, who was an inspiration.  I eventually moved to Petaluma, and had another wonderful teacher, Wanda Robin, who taught classes at the Petaluma Senior Center.

I started doing animal portraits (after years of abstracts and then still lives) when a neighbor asked me to paint a picture of their cat, Felix.  That was the start of my love of animal portraits.  I did many paintings of my friends’ dogs and cats.  I always said that my pleasure in the doing of the painting and their pleasure in receiving it was all the reward I wanted.

So I have continued through the last years, with my love of painting animals. Sometimes they were ‘real’ animals who belonged to friends.  Other times, I went to the computer to find images of animals that appealed to  me.  I continue to paint animals, although my sight is failing, because it is such an engrossing and satisfying use of my time.

Ella Rose Cleaveland Artist Statement

When I was a small child, I’d spend many hours each day exploring the limits of my imagination. I drew monsters to hide from, built fortresses to defend, fashioned animal families to join me and my brother in play. Because there were no limits to my imagination, there were no limits to what I saw as as useful supplies: noodles, laundry, shoes, boxes- everything could be something else if it contributed to my playtime world.

As I grew, I began to use artistic media, such as watercolors, colored pencils, pastels and textiles as a way of expressing my ideas. My brother and I spent many afternoons playing outside, and when we were indoors, we read animal encyclopedias to learn more about what we loved. We also read about the mythologies of other cultures, which fascinated us, and made room for themselves in my mind.  My art brings together these two interests: my scientific understanding of animals, how they’re built and what animates them, and the fantastical creatures that stalked my mind and my playtime when I was a child not so long ago.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017  |  5:00-7:00pm  | Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley CA