Catherine wants viewers to see their surroundings from a different perspective and to feel the shapes as light hits the form and describes it, to see colors they might not expect. Minnesota winters are a subject that she enjoys painting because they are all about form and light and color. The shapes created by the snow and wind catch the light and create shadows that contain surprising color and are abstract in nature. To accomplish her goal, she focuses on more intimate views of the landscape. Many of her landscapes have a high horizon line, thus focusing attention on the foreground and the details that might be passed over. Light changes over the course of a day and from season to season. She explores those changes and uses light to create a mood. Focusing on color, form and light and their relationships between these ideas is all a part of what Catherine tries to do in each of her paintings.
Catherine starts most of her paintings with a poured watercolor wash over the entire sheet. The paper is toned with a wash of three primary colors, letting these colors mix freely on the paper. This creates a wonderful color transition across the page, helping to create movement for the eye. Before the wash is poured, the whites are saved by keeping those portions of the paper dry, or by using masking fluid. The color is poured, and this sets the mood for the entire painting, with this first wash of color shining through all of the eventual layers. The initial wash becomes the mid-value range of color. When this wash is dry, the dark values are added for contrast and the painting is finished with the detail. The colors that are used are chosen specifically for each painting and typically only 3-4 colors are used in a painting. This creates beautiful color harmony and bright, clean color.
Catherine Hearding is a self-taught artist with more than 40 years of experience in watercolor. She has a BA degree in zoology and botany from the U of Montana (1974). She works from her home studio in Lake Elmo, MN, and teaches classes and workshops in basic watercolor technique, color theory and composition.