Artist: Cathy Nichols
Business: Cathy Nichols Art
Web sites: www.cathynichols.com and cathynichols.etsy.com
Location: New York, New York
What do you create?
Paintings and prints.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
If you had asked me this question 10 months ago, I would have replied that I paint in my spacious California studio... but now that I have a new baby, my painting quarters and schedule have become a bit more "flexible". I have a little studio in our apartment in Manhattan that I share with my four-month-old. I get to use our room when she's with the babysitter or when papa takes her on his lap to watch soccer. I create whenever I can – even if it's just sketching while the baby is taking a nap or running around Central Park with a camera for reference photos. I use my larger four-hour chunks of time to work on whole paintings.
Do you have another "day job" or did you leave one to pursue your art?
Right now my main job is painting, but I have had many day jobs in the past. I've been a college English teacher, and I still sometimes score GRE essays.
Where and what did you study?
I have a Master's degree in Literature from Colorado State University, but I have been studying art simultaneously since childhood. I studied life drawing for several years at The New York Art Students League and took painting classes at UCLA and OTIS in California.
What inspires you and what motivates you?
The interaction between nature and my memories really inspires me. Sometimes I look at a clump of trees, and it elicits a sense of longing that I really need to capture in paint. And, if I really think about it, it's the desire to preserve emotions – something invisible that always slips away – that motivates my artwork.
When did you start doing this?
I've been selling my artwork now for about seven years. I still remember the night I decided to become An Artist. I was about to fill out the forms for an internship with the LA Unified School District when I looked at the pile of paperwork in disgust and said, "Oh, Lord, I can't do this – I'm going to paint!" I had no idea how I was going to make a living, but I just started painting all the time and wonderful things began to happen.
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
Oh yes. I am an only child, and drawing was my main form of entertainment. I even paid for part of college by selling these very '80s glittery painted sweatshirts to all of my grandmother's friends. I still have a soft-spot for rhinestones.
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
About a year after I had declared myself "An Artist," I got a great opportunity to join the Ten Women Gallery art co-op in Venice, California. That's when I branched out with my marketing efforts and started selling prints and greeting cards in addition to original works.
How did you choose the name for your business?
Um... as you can see, I wasn't particularly creative in this respect. I just call it Cathy Nichols Art. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. :)
What do you love most about creating your work? I love the process of crystallizing a feeling or memory into a painting. That's very emotionally fulfilling. But creating harmony with color is also wonderful.
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
I have always had a certain fascination for Coney Island, New York. Rides like The Cyclone and The Wonder Wheel are so old that they embody the childhood of a different era. It's amazing to me that you can take a subway from a very modern, hip city and end up in a slice of 1929 set along the beach.
A book you love: I love Stephen Dunn's Collected Poems. In terms of fiction, my all time favorite novel is still Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I think I'm very romantic about geography. Sometimes I just fall in love with a place and have to be near it. This has lead to some interesting adventures.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I've done a lot of little paintings that I love, but it's the big picture – this whole happy creative life – that I'm most proud of allowing to bloom.
What advice would you give women starting their own business? Don't give up on your dream -- keep reshaping it and meeting new people that can help you. And talk yourself up! You never know who might be sitting next to you on the plane or in a coffee shop.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work? With the new baby, my biggest challenge by far is finding the time to actually work! Oh, if only I could be cloned...
What do you love to do in your free time?
Free time. Ahhhh..... sigh. Well, if I had free time, I would be swimming in the ocean and lounging in the dunes out on Fire Island (preferably with a picnic lunch and a bottle of white wine).
What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a series of Spring-colored paintings that incorporate fun-textured paper. I'm feeling very colorful.
What do you hope to achieve next?
I have an art show scheduled in Woodstock next Spring, So I am hoping to do some larger pieces. Lately, I've been thinking about interconnected smaller panels, too, that have a unified narrative.