Artist: Wendy Ryan
Business: Catscratch Studio
Web site: www.wendyryanfolkart.com
Location: Ottawa, Canada
What do you create?
Paintings! I've always loved painting faces, people and animals. Over the years my style has changed, but I think I can safely say I'm a "Contemporary Folk Artist". Much of my work is spiritual, angels, the Madonna, mothers and children and of course Frida! I've been recently experimenting with gold leaf, texture and incorporating sparking little crystals into my work. I'm also expanding to include canvas prints of my work with an eye to the wholesale market place.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
I paint just about every day, I'm working pretty much from 7 am until 7 pm. I've claimed a vacant bedroom as my studio/office/print room/shipping and receiving. It's a second floor room, west facing, with lovely dappled light filtered through a maple tree.
Do you have another "day job"?
Art is thankfully my only job.
Where and what did you study?
I have an undergrad degree from the University of Western Ontario, but not in Art – although I did take both studio and art history credits.
What inspires you and what motivates you?
That's such a tough question. I'm inspired by both past and living artists, their work, their stories.
As for motivation, we have bills to pay, so I paint for a living!
When did you start doing this?
I've always loved to create, but circumstances didn't always allow the time and energy to pursue art full time. I'm lucky now.
What memories to you have of getting into art as a kid?
My first grade teacher made me work endlessly on a painting of "The Three Little Pigs" that was to be entered into the local fall fair. At her insistence, I did that painting over and over again, but I still didn't win a prize!
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
It was just time to return to painting full time. I had been working for the Federal Government for too many years, I was tired. I needed art in my life again. I've been painting full time for almost three years now.
How did you choose the name for your business?
I used to paint a lot of cats, and I sort of liked the little "bite" in the name, so even though I don't paint as many cats anymore, I've kept the name.
What do you love most about creating your art?
I love the luxury of doing what I know I do best... I feel so lucky. And I'm incredibly moved by the people who support my work... I'm amazed and inspired that my little gift touches people so deeply.
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
Well, I suppose the most fascinating natural place has got to be Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. That place where the boiling lava rolls into the ocean from the Kilauea volcano is beyond words. The hissing of the molten lava, the churning ocean, sulfur and ash in the air, completely unforgettable! But the sheer awesome beauty of the Vimy Memorial in France will remain with me forever. It's a place I hope to return to again. Haunting and sad yet hopeful...
A book you love:
The Wars by Timothy Findley
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Learn all you can about the business you're in and be ready to change and adapt. And be prepared to work day and night! And you better love what you're doing too!
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Oh wow! Days are too short...the business side of art, planning, marketing, networking, accounting etc, take endless hours. Competition from cheap reproductions makes it hard to earn a living.
What do you love to do in your free time?
What free time?? I love to travel when I can, which isn't very often. And risking sounding like a real Pollyanna, I truly love getting together with family and friends, meeting over enormous home made meals and just having fun!
What are you working on right now?
I'm just about finished a large Klimt-inspired Frida Kahlo commission, lots of gold and metallic detail.
What do you hope to achieve next?
I'm happy if I can continue to paint and pay the bills!