Portrait of an Artist: Cath Hughes

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      It wasn’t long after earning her fine art degree in her home country of England that Cath Hughes decided to switch lanes to art education.

      However, since her move to North Vancouver a few years ago, her creative spirit has been revitalized by B.C.’s coastal landscapes and is currently making a name for herself in Vancouver’s extensive art scene.

      Hughes' oil paintings are entwined with her new life in Canada; however they are not entirely about her—they are about the people she encounters while experiencing nature.

      “I enjoy watching from an outsider's standpoint—observing the observers,” she says.

      In particular, “I’m interested in different aspects of people looking out at viewpoints—with a different focus at different times. I’ve only started incorporating figures into my work since moving to the West Coast. I like capturing people hiking, walking, or playing—often unified with the landscape. I’m interested in people experiencing their natural surroundings, or watching how people behave—how they experience nature.”

      Hughes is also attracted to the materiality of paint: “My works are figurative, as well as abstract, but it’s more about getting the marks on the surface and painting with fluidity.”

      Her work hasn’t always concentrated on natural backdrops: “It was a lifestyle shift. When I lived in East London, my subject matter was very urban. I touched on urban landscapes that reflected the history of dilapidated buildings. Moving to the West Coast, I’ve found myself spending a lot more time outside. My subject matter is a clear reflection of a lifestyle shift and how I’ve been enriched by it.”

      Environmental influences and consequences now make up a large portion of Hughes' lifestyle. While she’s not focusing on her paintings, she relishes in readings about the ‘nature cure’ and how it can be advantageous to one’s health. “The study of nature deficit in children and adults is also very influential to me. I am always inspired by one’s engagement with a new landscape and the impacts of these experiences,” she explains.

      A glimpse into what Hughes is currently working on: “A series with the motif of figures within an image ‘slipping out of sight’—the idea of trying to hold onto a person while they are disappearing behind the scenes.” 

      She’s also just started to gather ideas with the theme of a collection of water and the water’s edge. “I may tie this study into my recent exploration of different colour palettes and record how a specific colour combination can affect someone’s mood,” she says.

      While Hughes isn’t searching for the next hue in her colour palette, she is working closely with local art groups. Her next exhibition that she is currently working towards is with the North Vancouver Arts Council. When she’s not focused on her craft, she’s uncovering the natural wonders of the North Shore—“I’m open to seeing what’s much further beyond,” she says.

      View Hughes's work for rent and sale on ArtsALLY.com or connect with her on Twitter at @cathhughes1.