The talented Isa Catto of Art Wall's dining room is joining us today for an artist's interview. Isa is a painter and mixed-media artist who lives in Woody Creek, Colorado with her husband and two little ones. She received her BA from Williams College and studied at Parsons School of Design in New York. Folks, Meet Isa:
(AW) Describe your aesthetic.
(IC) Organic symbolist! Of course I use this phase tongue in cheek because labels are too tidy and most people tend to drift off when I explain in DETAIL all the sources that inspire me. Frankly, I would drift off too. I love gardens, the natural world, the land of the dreamy dreams, textiles and patterns in all corners.
(AW) Can you take us through your process? How do you get from inspiration to completion?
(IC) With mixed media, I let the materials guide me--I will pick several images and patterns and layer them down and collage over them, rip them up, until I have the balance I want. As the piece unfolds, it guides me through a narrative. It is an entirely intuitive process. With watercolor, I am inspired by a theme or mythology or poetry --it is a more structured approach than my collages.
(AW) You teach art workshops, can you tell us what unique challenges and rewards come from working as an art teacher?
(IC) I teach watercolor workshops. The biggest hurdle is convincing everyone/anyone that we are all creative. The second biggest hurdle is undoing the damage from an art teacher that destroyed someone's confidence at an early age.
(AW) Two part question: 1) What do you most enjoy about the business side of what you do? 2)What do you least enjoy about it?
(IC) It delights me when someone loves, and pays for, a piece of my work. I'm not entirely comfortable with money as an affirmation of talent or skill, because it is a poor indicator in so many cases, but we live in a commodity based society so I cannot pretend that it isn't nice to have monetary compensation. When people ask me how long I worked on a piece I respond--a lifetime (I cribbed this from another artist)--which is a nice way of letting buyers know that it is impossible to put an hourly rate on atristic work. I dislike marketing my work and hearing that my work is derivative/decorative/too whimsical/too serious, what have you. Fortunately, I care much less about criticism as I grow older.
(AW) What's a teeny tiny thing that makes you happy?
(IC) Hearing my kids belly laugh together. It is completely contagious.
Isa, thank you so much for allowing us to get to know you a bit today. I loved your remark (whether lifted or not) about your pieces taking a lifetime.
Isa has a general website, an Etsy shop, and will be teaching an upcoming workshop at Anderson Ranch Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. If you're feeling chartiable, 50% of the proceeds from the sale of prints in Isa's Etsy shop will be donated to the Global Fund for Children in honor of her later mother, Jessica Hobby Catto, and her late mother-in-law, Iris Azian Shaw.