Posted on

Gel pen drawings

Gel pen drawings by Cathy Durso

I was a little bit too excited recently when I received a set of 100(!) gel pens as a gift. These pens brought me right back to my childhood impulses of first: making a small mark with every single pen to see the colors, second: arranging the pens in their holder into rainbow color order, and third: making instinctual, scribbly drawings with them. I was thrilled when I realized that about 1/3 of them had shimmery ink and another 1/3 of them had sparkly ink! After a lot of playing around I made a series of drawings, with the goal of using as many different colors as possible while still making beautiful, cohesive drawings. These drawings are currently available in my shop.

Foreign Land 16

Foreign Land 10 (detail)

Foreign Land 3

Foreign Land 6

Foreign Land 4 (detail)

Click here to see all of the drawings!

Posted on

Commission for a Florida Condo

Florida
Florida
acrylic and thread on canvas
each panel 30 x 30 in
2017

I just finished up a commission to be displayed on the wall of a Florida condo. The finished work is a diptych, two canvases each measuring 30×30 inches. The stipulations for this work were that it use tropical, Florida-inspired colors, as well as that it take inspiration from the colors of a recently upholstered couch in the condo.

Florida (left-hand panel) by Cathy Durso

I wanted to use the colors in a way that gave the work a sense of narrative. The fact that it’s a diptych already makes the eye move in a narrative way, from one canvas to the next. I wanted to give a sense of time shifting from day to night. In the left-hand panel are daytime colors, which are interspersed with evening colors toward the bottom right-hand corner. There are some dark blue-greens in there as well, that might evoke a passing rain shower. Then, the right-hand panel has evening colors that change from the bright reds and oranges of a sunset to dark, dusky purple on the far right-hand side.

Florida (right-hand panel) by Cathy Durso

The circles are acrylic on canvas. They are sewn with thread onto the background canvas. They move across the canvases in a way that evokes the movement of the ocean, as if a wave is moving across the two canvases.

Florida (detail) by Cathy Durso

I like to use circle shapes as a way to focus the viewer’s attention. There is something about a circle that frames things in a way that can be very pleasing to the eye – I’ve always found circular windows on houses to be particularly beautiful. I found that the circles in this work evoked a sense of focusing on one aspect of a landscape at a time. The circles move across the canvas in a way that mimics the way our eyes work, in that they don’t travel smoothly as we look around, but rather, they hop from one point of focus to the next. The circles are also reminiscent of the way our eyes can be focused on one thing, and then when we shift our focus to another thing, everything around us has changed. This can happen when we ourselves our moving (walking, driving) or when the landscape itself is changing (the sun is setting, or clouds are rolling in). Our vision hops around to different parts of the landscape, and we take all these points of focus in to create our own sense of the experience.

Florida (detail) by Cathy Durso

I really enjoy the challenge of creating a piece of artwork for a specific space. If you are interested in commissioning a painting from me, there is more information about the process on my commissions page.

Posted on

Trying my hand at expressive writing

I had four pieces in a group show put together in honor of the National Parks’ Centennial this year. For the show, the artists were asked to write a brief narrative about each piece. I never thought I was much of a writer, though I did enjoy creative writing in elementary school. Since then, though, I’ve felt that self expression through writing wasn’t for me. But for this show, I decided to try to get a little evocative and write in an impressionistic way, which I felt fit with the impressionistic quality of my paintings.

Below are the works I contributed, along with the bit of writing I included.

Alpine

The mighty Atlantic crashing against a granite shoreline. An exhilarating hike on a perfect day up a mountain with a panoramic view of the ocean, and wild blueberries to snack on.

Alpine

Secret Viewpoint

A hike through unfamiliar terrain leads unexpectedly to a hole in the rock. We climb up to catch a glimpse of the incredible vista.

Secret Viewpoint

Campground Sunset

Camping amidst towering pines in summer, when the sun sets late and the smell of campfires is in the air, with looming mountains surrounding us. The forest in the evening is peaceful, comforting, serene.

Campground Sunset

Twilight

The sun is setting behind distant peaks and the Milky Way is already visible. The bison have crossed the plain and are settling in for the night. A little star gazing, then it’s time for us to settle in, too.

Twilight

Posted on

Open Spaces

I’m thrilled to announce that my newest body of work is now available.

"Open Spaces", a collection of mixed media paintings by Cathy Durso

“Open Spaces” is a collection of mixed media paintings on paper inspired by time spent outdoors. I have always loved spending time outside. From a young age, I was camping and hiking through the mountains of New England and upstate New York. My love of being in the forest, surrounded by mountains, has carried through and intensified since then.

Moving Through Forest 2“Moving Through Forest 2”

There’s nothing like the feeling of reaching the top of a peak, knowing that my own two legs carried me there. But it’s not just about reaching the top. It’s being in the forest, on the mountain. Breathing in the scent of pine; trampling over roots and rocks and dead leaves that have been trampled by many before me and will be trampled by many after me. It’s the history of the trail. It’s the silence of the forest. The color of the light; how it shifts throughout the day. The feeling of being surrounded by the elements of nature. Moving through it, powered by nothing but my own body, being one with it. In the forest I feel pure happiness. I feel at peace. I can breathe deeply.

Sunburst (detail)“Sunburst” (detail)

Since moving from Boston to Minneapolis last year, my experience of the outdoors has changed. If the forests and mountains of New England gave me peace, the vast plains of grass and farmland in the Midwest give me a slight sense of unease. It’s a landscape that is so foreign to me. In a vast prairie, even a single tree will bring me comfort. The lakes, however, are my saviors. They give me peace and ease to counter the discomfort of the prairie. Aside from allowing me to experience a landscape that is completely new to me, time spent in the Midwest has also made me realize just how much the landscape of the Northeast is home for me, just how much I connect with it.

Lakeside 1“Lakeside 1”

“Open Spaces” is my exploration of landscape and the elements of nature. Using acrylic, gouache, soft pastel, graphite, and oil pastel, I create compositions on paper that range from very obvious landscapes to complete abstraction. In addition to inspiration from my current surroundings in the Midwest, I bring in memories of past camping trips from different places throughout the U.S., as well as my longing for the landscapes of the Northeast, my home.

Four small works framedFour small works, framed

These works are all currently available for sale here.

Posted on

Small abstract landscapes

I’m calling these small works “abstract landscapes” even though they’re not all landscapes and they are varying degrees of abstract. In any case, they are inspired by nature – by rocks, water, forests, mountains – and I aim to express joy, exuberance, the feeling of deeply breathing in fresh air. Life, vitality. Memories of camping, hiking, splashing in a stream. The things that drive me.

Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

The three pieces below are on display through the end of 2016 at Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes, MN.

“Rushing River”
Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

“Distant Sunset”
Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso

“Alpine Sunrise”
Abstract landscapes by Cathy Durso