The Artist

 A Note From Catherine McClung
 

 

  Many of us consider ourselves blessed when our work coincides with our passion. My paintings are a record of my observations of nature. As you will find out, the beginnings of my art career were so humble, that I can only believe that God had a plan for my life far greater that I could have ever dreamed for myself.

Growing up in Toronto, Canada, my mother taught me all the names of the flowers in our modest backyard. It is also where I saw my first spectacular bird.. The bird with the brilliant yellow-orange feathers framed with black markings seemed to have an inner light. Although I was perhaps at preschool age, I remember that sighting of a Baltimore Oriole, as if it were yesterday.

My family moved to the United States when I was a teenager, and I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Throughout college I led an elementary age, summer program called "Nature Adventure". One summer, I taught arts and craft classes to adults and children at a local art supply store. I would decorate the windows with the crafts that I had made to encourage others to buy the art supplies. I placed in the store window the paintings of birds that I had done on barn wood and driftwood. My backyard bird feeder was my daily soap opera, and the birds that I observed there became the inspiration and reference I needed. So often people came into the store in an attempt to buy the paintings.

After my daughter was born, I was looking for a business that I could do at home to add to the family finances. I tried substitute teaching, but getting the 5AM phone call and hauling formula and supplies to a babysitter . . . I just thought there had to be a better way. Besides, I wanted to stay home with my daughter. I showed a friend bath puppets that I had designed to wash my baby. I was considering marketing them and I asked her what she thought. She said these few kind words, "if I could paint like you, that's what I would do". All my life I have been able to draw well but I never considered that I could possibly make a living at it.  

 

  After successfully selling my paintings of birds on barn wood, I decided that it would always be a craft, so I began painting watercolor paintings on watercolor paper. For the next 30 plus years I would teach myself to paint. Along the way I have published over 80 limited edition prints and many have sold out. I have also licensed my work for many commercial products including limited edition collector's plate for Lenox Collections. Eventually I was asked to design dinnerware for Lenox fine china. A pattern called "Winter Greetings" took off like a rocket. Each Christmas season thousands of collectors and nature lovers are
dining and decorating with this popular pattern. I would go on to design numerous other patterns including the latest one of fruit and blossoms, called "Orchard in Bloom".

In 2002, I was asked to create an ornament for the White House Christmas tree. Later I would recreate it for a segment broadcast on Home and Garden Television. Over the years I have been asked to design bird posters for the Department of Natural Resources of seven states. My illustrations for the children's book, "The Far Flung Adventures of Homer the Hummer" helped to tell the story of the amazing and perilous year in the life of a ruby-thoated hummingbird.

In 2005 we moved to west Michigan ,and I soon realized that I would spend the rest of my life painting my new neighbors. The areas woods, waters, and meadows have all the right ingredients to foster the next generation of birds. Walking everyday helps to center me on the natural world. Every time I step out the door or look out the window, I am
reminded of God's greatness.

In July 2013 I was honored to be featured on West Michigan Stories on Fox 17 News TV during the 6:00pm news hour. In case you missed it, here is a link to the video and additional information:
http://fox17online.com/2013/07/02/water-color-artist-paints-paper-and-china/#axzz2Xvpswdtw

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