Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Carlton.
Catherine, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
In the early 80’s I was waitressing for a few years when I decided I wanted to do something different. I opened the yellow pages (yes, an actual book) and went through the alphabet looking for something that stood out. I got to “signs” and thought that might be fun since I love lettering. I called a sign company and told them I had no experience in sign making but wanted to learn. They hired me to make patterns for the signs to be sandblasted and I learned about the industry. Eventually, I moved to another bigger/better company as a sign designer (again, with no experience, but got on the job training).
One day a guy came to the shop and HAND PAINTED a sign we had prepared for him. I was so impressed. When he finished, he went to the front office and was paid, then drove off. I said… “THAT is what I want to do”. So, I quit my job, practiced every day until the wee hours of the morning learning how to use the brushes and hand letter signs. I took any job I could and learned more about each project. That was 35 years ago. I have been fortunate ever since to work with designers and travel throughout much of the United States hand painting signs, murals, and/or decorative finishes in restaurants, as well as hotels, schools, business’ and residences.
I began doing fine art when all commercial projects came to a halt from the last recession. Having spent years collaborating with designers and clients to create art with a particular look or idea to fit the space, I found it daunting to know what I wanted to paint for myself when faced with a blank canvas. What emerged was a series of painting that represented much of the changes I had gone through during a difficult time. I learned encaustics and did some public art and sculptures. In the past three years, my business has been thriving again and I have not spent much time doing fine art for pleasure, however, I feel that is about to change and I am excited to see where that creative path will take me.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I design and hand letter signs and artwork for business’, mostly restaurants. I have recently been painting a lot on brick and lettering chalkboards. I enjoy being a part of the design process on a project, however, I often paint an existing logo or artwork on a project. I mostly use acrylic paints, depending on the surface…. i.e, concrete stain for floors, wood stain or enamel oils for windows etc. I am impressed with well-designed and beautifully painted signs on storefronts or display boards. I feel as though a business takes pride in presenting their store to the public when there is a good sign and including hand painted wall art adds an organic nature to space.
In a world filled with everything digitally produced, painting by hand is a lost art, and I am proud to have the skill to be able to do it. I hope people appreciate the craft of a thoughtfully designed sign and notice the interior of a space when surrounded by artfully painted walls. My fine art is in a variety of mediums and styles, always exploring new techniques and ideas. Currently, they are not in any gallery or such, except on my website. I do take commissions, however. 😉
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
As most artists would say, be persistent and prolific in your painting. Trust that your creative voice is worth being heard, seen and enjoyed by others as much as you enjoy making it. I wish I had been as prolific in fine art as I had been with sign art, but it’s never too late to start, and now is the time.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Locally, I painted all of the signs and large chalk wall at Brooklyn Girl Eatery in Mission Hills, the brick walls at Pizza Nova in Point Loma and Newport Beach, BJ’s Restaurant in La Jolla and a double helix DNA sculpture at the Wolfstein Sculpture Garden at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla. Most of my work is out of the area, but I would love to have more local clients…. lettering chalkboards, designing and painting signs and murals etc.
- Address: 1404 31st Street San Diego, CA. 92102
- Website: WWW.CATHERINECARLTONARTS.COM
- Phone: 7603900324
- Email: CARLTONSTUDIO@MAC.COM
- Instagram: CATHERINECARLTON_ARTS
- Facebook: CARLTON ARTS