Artist Spotlight || Studio CB

Oh, do I have a treat for you.  I have the pleasure of spotlighting a fellow Squammie as part of the artist spotlight series.  One of the best experiences about Squam is meeting truly wonderful people you would not other wise meet.  Cathleen Bradley, known as CB, is a friend to one of my Squam cabin mates.  While we enjoyed a lot of laughs, and I purchased one of her amazing recycled pieces at the art fair, I didn't know the full scope of her work until I asked her to do the interview.  Her work and her mission are amazing and I can't wait for you to meet her.  Here is what was recently written about CB from her latest show.

image || Cathleen Bradley
Divergent thinking defines Cathleen E. Bradley’s mixed media art. It’s CB’s natural inclination to be curious, try new techniques and think of different ways to use objects.

“I love a creative challenge. My visual-kinesthetic approach to learning and expressing comes through loud and clear in this body of work. Each composition here holds two common threads: the physicality exerted in the process and the exploratory road-trip to visualize it. I layer, scrape, scratch, sand, tear, cut, burnish and rearrange ---all to give my thoughts imagery --- to give the stories in my mind tangible existence.

Painting came alive for me when I was introduced to a palette knife; a mode I could honestly relate to after years of manipulating clay, glass, fabric and wood. In my hands, discarded objects and vintage graphics and text get a second life as they take on new roles to play. Though my heart wonders about their origins, my mind twists their fate. Ultimately, my constructions and assemblages evoke feelings of familiar and mysterious histories.

Inspiration comes my way through listening to the news of the day or by coming in possession of a fabulous old implement that begs for a new life and provokes a quest. As the right side of my brain works over-time, I am continually drawn to combining mediums and trying new techniques. I often feel like I am just scratching the surface of a new way to express myself. “

CB’s work requests viewers to take a moment, look deeper and think twice. Do not just skim the surface; dive in.
Please welcome CB...

+ When you are not busy with art installations you teach art classes. What joy do you get out of teaching others art?

I completely enjoy encouraging creativity. I am all about divergent thinking ... stretching the right side of the brain, so to speak ... helping others to look at objects in a new way. No kit, just creative wit, is my m.o. in my home studio classroom. The notion repurposing is always present in my studio as well as my home. I also teach teens and tweens how to use tools ---such as hot glue guns, hand drills, pliers, irons, screwdrivers, etc. It is empowering; it builds self-confidence.

Also, my third grade teacher wanted to buy one of my art projects from me and also had me copy a poem (the first poem I ever wrote) on a large poster, which she then plastered on our classroom’s door. Those two acts made a dynamic impression on me, so now I am paying it forward. (Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, wherever you are.) 

images || Cathleen Bradley

+ In addition to teaching, you create and sell art. Tell us about what you create.

As a mixed-media artist, I am always working on various projects --in various mediums, simultaneously. (That might be the result of having ADD, which manifests in me as curiosity, creative energy and spontaneity. Good things for an artist!) Presently I construct assemblages made from salvaged implements, timber, leather and found objects. I also paint with acrylics, fuse plastic bags and sew. 

image || Cathleen Bradley

+ Your work includes materials that are recycled from all manner of places. Why do you love incorporating used materials in your art and where do you find your materials?

It’s almost as if vintage objects call out to me. Seriously, my pulse races and this strange excitement resonates within as I peruse through estate sales, flea markets, antique stores and old barns. I am probably best going alone as I hyper-focus and start visualizing. Patinas, vintage graphics and game pieces, hardware, jars of once- cherished ephemera catch my attention. I tend to visualize how objects might have been used and wonder about their origins. I have a respect for their history. It’s almost like the soul of an object gets resuscitated as a new use for it unfolds. Okay, I admit as a kid, I favored those old black and white cartoons where inanimate objects came to life and danced by the light of the moon. I do love old movies, jazz music, biographies, architecture and treasure hunts. Shake it all together and that’s my art.

image || Cathleen Bradley

+ Do you have a favorite piece? 

After a project is finished, it is my favorite until a new one takes its place ---- which can happen the next day or week.

+ How or where do you gather inspiration for a project? 

Inspiration comes from stories in the news (tsunami in Haiti), a salvaged object (diary found at a flea market), vintage illustrations (old Red Cross booklet), texts, photographs or personal experiences. In a painting, I might explore a new technique which lends itself to an emotional adventure, although most of my paintings are mixed media. 

image || Paige Gilbert Goldfarb

+ Is there a media you prefer to work with? 

It depends on what I am exploring at the moment. My circle of mediums keeps broadening and I don’t let go of one as I take on another. There is a connecting thread. Part of it is the physicality I put in to my work. I thrive on that, whether it be scrapping, sanding, chopping or tearing. Doodling with ink on paper, moves to sgraffito on clay, in paint or with thread in free-motion sewing. 

image || Cathleen Bradley

+ What has been your most interesting or challenging project? 

The challenges can be mental or physical. They can also keep me at bay for awhile. I don’t give up easily. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding that lemonade beyond the lemon. Last week it was a lampshade I had redesigned. After I fused a new cover and inverted it, I had to invent a way to fasten it to the harp. Hanging out in hardware store isles brings out the jigsaw puzzler in me. The blue timber lamp base, made from a century-old farming implement and rescued from a dilapidated barn snow pile, brought challenges, too. I wish I had a camera filming my grunting angst as I hulked over it, forcing its heavy rusted hardware free. I had to reach out for drill-press help and I learned that as wood ages, the grain tightens and it can even pull a 24” drill bit in the direction it wants. Gratefully, the lamp design I envisioned did not end up on the cutting room floor.

+ You followed your dreams started selling your art. Do you have a motto or advice for other artists just starting out? 

Take risks. Veer from plans. Keep learning.

+ What are you working on now? 

I want to go bigger with my 2D assemblage constructions. I would love to finish some tall lamps I have designed. I have a large gessoed and cradled MDF substrate calling my name every time I pass by. Do you notice a pattern here?

+ Do you have any other words of wisdom to offer?

”To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”—Thomas Edison


CB has plans for a website and online shop.  In the meantime, if you are not in her neighborhood, you can still purchase her pieces.  View the art to sell gallery and contact her for pricing and shipping information. 

contact - studioceb {at} comcast {dot} net