A life-long art-lover, Cat Mahin made her professional debut at the silver anniversary of the 2017 Chatham Studio Tour. Her painting “My Father’s Watch” won 2nd place. She opened her Critters & Colors Studio in Briar Chapel for the first public exhibit of her unique paintings and printed accessories in 2017.
Cat juxtaposes natural images with everyday objects in colorful abstractions that excite the imagination. “I start with a critter in mind and just let my imagination run. In some cases, I will magnify the bark of a tree, a leaf or twig and use this as my subject matter. I actually don’t know how I get the ideas, but it all seems to fall into place. I use watercolor on Aquabord, a clay covered substrate that enhances the intensity of the colors. I like Aquabord because it allows me to apply several layers of watercolor without curling or buckling, as often happens with paper. ”
Her paintings are meticulous, and each one takes weeks or even months to complete. “I am a little OCD, so I carefully work on every detail in each painting.” Many of her pieces contain personal memories, such as one Dali-like creation with her father’s pocket watch sharing space with a porcupine.
Cat has only seriously painted for about five years. Although she has always loved art, work and family responsibilities took priority. She worked as a secretary and then as a human resources manager in a New York law firm. All the time, she took various art classes. “I studied oil painting with Ruth Reininghaus, a well-known artist in New York City, and worked in stained glass for many years,” she notes. “When I retired my husband and I moved to North Carolina, and that is where my dream of creating and using my imagination began.”
Cat began the Nature Illustration program at the NC Botanical Garden. “I loved it but quickly decided that I wanted to direct my creations to more than just the subject of nature.” She began to study in a salon coached by well-known nature-inspired artist and Chatham Artists Guild member, Emma Skurnick. “Here, I honed the skills and concepts that are now my signature.”
Cat now has developed an impressive body of unique paintings and has translated them into a collection of printed accessories, such as tote bags, scarves and pillows. Her work ranges in price from $35 to over $1000.
Her vision is “to create individual designs for those people who don’t want the ordinary and to see my artwork on walls, wallpaper and textiles.”
“I am confident in my talent. If the right people see it, they will find something of real value. I love what I do.”