What do you do to overcome a "block"?
Take long walks in beautiful places or visit my favorite cliff in Jamestown, RI that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
How do you know something is "finished"?
Is it easy to walk away?
I step away when the subject has developed its own personality. There are instances when I'll go back and rework a piece after the paper has relaxed a little, to enhance the contrast or detail. At some point the paper tells me it's had enough, or a deadline has arrived.
“Green Sea Turtle”
was commissioned to benefit Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge after
BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
For the past nine years it's been mostly outdoor shows. It's a lot of hard work, but I've gained a following and have repeat customers, which is very rewarding. Last year there were almost a dozen gallery and museum exhibits. This year I've scaled way back.
Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?
I was recently elected a member of the Art League of Rhode Island. They have exhibit opportunities in some nice galleries including The Providence Art Club. Then there are the outdoor shows: Wickford Art Festival for 2-days in July and 3-days at the Scituate Art Festival in October. What I like to call "camping with my prized possessions."
What are you currently working on?
In order to revamp my web site, I spent most of this winter teaching myself computer programming. I'll be working on some smaller pieces soon, getting back in the groove after a long, cold New England winter.
What are your plans for the future?
Planning on staying-the-course and maintaining a good selection of art. But I'm really itching to do some 3-dimensional work. There's a piece of seasoned wood with a thick vine growing around it that's caught my eye: Perhaps a good candidate for a relief carving and pyrography mixture.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
My first art director told me two things. 1) Everything you learn belongs to you forever. 2) When asked to do something, even if you don't know how, say yes anyway. In the time between you saying yes and actually doing it, go learn.
What advice would you give new artists?
Some artists just want to get into "the zone," therefore sales aren't a big deal. But if you want to sell your art, my golden rule is: If they can't see it, they can't buy it. Make the commitment to build a collection and do a show. Or arrange to exhibit a few pieces somewhere, even a coffee shop or library. Once you have a direction or deadline it'll motivate you.
Have you done any courses to help you?
I'm almost completely self-taught, learned from working on the job, except for some drawing classes at the RI School of Design. Ironically, when my high school wouldn't let me take the commercial art program I quit and became a studio apprentice. While my peers were at the prom, I was at my drafting table drawing, building a career that's lasted four decades.
What do you do to market your work?
By far, most sales happen at the outdoor shows, where you meet people face-to-face. Customers buy the artist as much as the art. They love to hear the how and why of a piece, see that gleam of inspiration in your eye. Sometimes the art find its owner. When a person has that glazed look and just keeps staring - that's usually a sale in-the-making. I also offer prints, which is a nice option if that's what a customer can afford.
Do you use social networking in your day-to-day life?
My web site and pages on Fine Art America, plus Pinterest, all gets a lot of traffic. I'm not really into the whole Twitter scene, but I am on Facebook now. Luckily folks link to me through their sites and blogs. Plus I communicate with other pyrographers from around the world, and have written articles about this medium.
Are you available for commissions?
Yes, I do commissions. Portraits especially make me step-up the game, because they have to be spo-on. Trying to bring their memories and impressions to your art is always interesting. Most clients have faith in me, which I deeply appreciate.
Have you got hobbies?
What little time I have for leisure is spent cooking, gardening and caring for my fish (when they're not frozen under the pond). Living in a rural area, friends nearby often have bonfires where great musicians gather. Fireside with a star-lit night is our favorite relaxation time.
Where are you based?
My husband Leon and I live in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, deep in the woods near the Connecticut border, where there's abundant wildlife, especially Barred Owls.
Question & Answer Session with Artist Cate McCauley
Reprinted from Angel Arts Magazine - England (Apr 2013)
Fine Art America Interview