When and why did you start creating art?

Art and creativity have been my companions since childhood.

The pivotal moment arrived when my family relocated to the south of France for a four-year stint amid the 2009 recession.

There, I was mesmerised by the luminous quality of light, which alongside the region’s art galleries and vibrant artist community, fulled my inspiration.

Immersing myself in the art scene, I participated in plein air painting sessions in the picturesque locales of Villfranch-sure-Mer and Saint- Paul-de-Vence, enriching my artistic journey.

Can you explain your creative process?

My passion for the outdoors deeply influences my artistic process.

I begin with plein air sketching, immersing myself in the landscape, which along with photographs of wildlife, serves as the foundation for my paintings.

The essence of nature and the serene beauty of the Burren countryside influences my work. Surrounded by the diverse sounds and scents of flora and fauna, my creativity flourishes.

As I paint, my mind and brush merge, transporting me to a state of bliss and spiritual fulfillment unmatched by any other experience.

What inspires you?

As an artist specialising in wildlife, farm animals, and landscapes, I find immense joy in exploring the natural beauty in the surrounding of my village Kinvara, through nature walks.

My affection for farm animals stems from my childhood experiences on my grandmother's farm, where tasks such as collecting eggs, herding cows to the milking parlor and feeding the livestock were part of my daily life.

Nowadays, these cherished memories guide my creative process, as I revisit these locations with my sketchpad and camera in hand, seeking inspiration for my artwork.

In my studio, the synthesis of these experiences fuels the evolution of my paintings from initial concept to final creation.

The journey of learning and growing as an artist is something I deeply cherish. Engaging with fellow artists, exchanging ideas and nurturing our shared passions are essential aspects of my creative life.

I am especially grateful for the guidance and inspiration provided by my mentor and friend Mary Roberts of 'Art for Fun', who plays a pivotal role in my artistic development.

Surrounding myself with a community of artists is crucial for maintaining my creativity and inspiration.

As the adage goes, practice leads to perfection and through continuous creation, I refine my unique style. I am committed to expanding my artistic repertoire, exploring new subjects and techniques.

Participating in the plein air workshop hosted by Kinvara Area Visual Arts was a fantastic experience.

Engaging with artists who bring diverse styles and perspectives to the table encourages me to experiment with different color palettes and brushstrokes.

These workshops not only invigorate my passion for painting but also equip me with new insights and techniques that enhance my work. With each learning experience, my skills, confidence and understanding of art's ever-changing landscape grow, enriching my sense of fulfillment as an artist.

My artistic endeavours are centred around commissioned work, which I find deeply rewarding.

The journey from conceptualising an idea and imbuing it with emotion to witnessing the emergence of a painting is a process I truly cherish.

Currently, my artwork is mostly created for friends, family and acquaintances. I consider it a great honour and privilege to be entrusted with bringing to life the visions that others imagine.

What has been your most memorable piece to create?

I recently finished a commission piece for my friend Annmarie and this is a piece which holds profound significance for her. She shared with me a heartfelt testimonial, saying: “For many, the Cliffs of Moher are a symbol of Ireland’s rugged beauty a natural wonder that attracts gazes from around the world.

"For me, they are infinitely more – they are a final resting place, a sanctuary where I wish my ashes to mingle with the wind, the sea and the stone.

"This painting created by my beautiful talented friend of the Cliffs is a testament to my soul’s eternal bond with the majestic landscape.”

What is your biggest achievement?

My proudest accomplishment lies in the capacity to produce artworks that reflect various phases of my life.

Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, embarking on a challenging journey for both myself and my family.

Fortuitously, painting became my solace, providing me with a means of escape during this difficult period. Through the liberation offered by each brushstroke, I discovered the opportunity to heal, allowing me the space and time necessary for recovery.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing an artistic career?

Stay true to yourself, that’s what makes any artist unique. A good quote: “Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colours flowers so does art colour life” – John Lubbock.

Or as Andy Warhol said: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if its good or bad, whether they love or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Can you tell me about your experience with truffle farming so far?

We're at the beginning of our journey with a truffle farm project, driven by a commitment to sustainable agriculture and the desire to minimize our carbon footprint.

Trees play a critical role in this endeavor, which is why truffle farming appealed to us as a means to combat global warming while also aspiring to earn a livelihood in the future. Truffle cultivation is environmentally friendly, relying on natural processes that preserve biodiversity.

We anticipate the joy of harvesting our first truffles within the next four years.To cultivate truffles, we inoculate the roots of young trees with truffle spores.

We've opted for hazel trees, which thrive in the Burren, and our calcareous soil meets the optimal conditions for truffle farming. Truffles, part of the 'Ascomycola' fungi family, function similarly to mushrooms but grow underground. Their primary role is spore dispersal, facilitating the growth of new truffles. The successful growth of truffles hinges on a delicate balance of suitable weather, soil properties, and a touch of fortune.

Even if truffles elude us, we'll still benefit from the hazelnuts. Truffles are sought after for their unique aroma, described as earthy and musky, making them prized ingredients in high-end cuisine. Their rarity and seasonal nature contribute to their status as a luxury item.

Historically, pigs were employed to unearth truffles, though their tendency to eat the finds made them less than ideal for the task. Nowadays, dogs, more amenable to trading truffles for treats, are the foragers of choice.

In places like France, challenges such as extreme heat and drought have impacted black truffle cultivation. This adversity underscores our belief in the Burren as an ideal setting for our truffle farming venture.

Catherine is taking part in Incognito, Ireland’s biggest online art sale, in which art buyers have absolutely no idea who the artists behind the artworks are until after the sale.

In aid of the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation, every original postcard-size artwork costs €65.

The collection can be viewed at www.incognito.ie with the sale taking place on Wednesday 24 April.

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