Local artist Cathy fee finds plenty of joy and inspiration via painting, and her vibrant works, currently on display at The Hub through the end of January, reflect that.
“Painting pulls me in and takes me away from being limited by my multiple sclerosis,” she explains in her artist’s statement. “It’s almost like I want to take myself back to childhood where everything was about freedom.
“I’ve expanded my repertoire of images that include florals, vegetables, birth trees and mountain scenes. This show is about sharing my work with anyone interested in looking.”
Looking back, Fee, who is originally from Cranbrook, B.C., said she wasn’t overly interested in artistic pursuits as a youngster.
“My mom’s sister was very talented, but I couldn’t draw anything,” she recalled with a smile. “The first thing I ever drew was supposed to be a bumble bee, but it looked like a mad hornet. But my mom framed it!”
At the time, she was more into music, playing both the bugle and snare drums.
Fee lived in Calgary for 12 years after she graduated from high school, and worked for CP Rail. Still, art really wasn’t part of the picture.
“My hobby was riding motorbikes,” she said, which provided her with an exhilarating sense of freedom.
But her life would change when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989.
Symptoms prior to that included a tendency to fall, she recalled. “One day, I was just really uncomfortable and I had reduced feeling in my feet.
“I didn’t really know what it was, so I was scared,” she said, reflecting on that period when doctors were zeroing in on what was causing her symptoms.
As to her artistic gift, it didn’t really start to surface until after both her parents had passed away.
“I went through a serious depression, and I spiralled. I needed something.”
She took a painting class and from there, she just kept going with it. Today, she paints with acrylic and her works reflect both a bold vibrancy in terms of colour, and a delicate sense of design as well.
Flowers are a particular love, and she paints them with a sensitive and compelling touch. “So far it’s been mostly flowers, but I’m really starting to get into abstract (styles).”
She found painting also seemed to come quite naturally to her.
“I find it gives me an escape,” she said of what continues to fuel her striking sense of creativity. “It’s like being free like when I would be on a motorbike. When you ride, there is nothing else that matters. You are just free.
“For somebody that is disabled, it’s like you have no disabilities.”
Painting, for Fee, even provides that feeling of an adrenaline rush. It’s exhilarating. And the hours fly by when she’s painting, as she takes her time. If she doesn’t like the direction a given painting is going, she will simply stop and really re-consider how it’s taking shape.
“It’s not apparent right away sometimes. It’s not apparent instantly – sometimes it takes a day or two.”
Meanwhile, Chaos to Calm, which features 17 pieces, is her first exhibit and she recalls initially feeling quite nervous at the prospect.
But it’s been a meaningful experience to be able to share her works with a broader audience.
“I was pretty nervous, thinking people weren’t going to come. But they came.”
These days, Fee paints every day. She has to.
“I can’t not paint. It’s better than any therapy or any medication. I even had to start setting alarms to know when to go for lunch! The time just flies by.”
For more about The Hub, check out www.hubpdd.com.