Catherine Stirling enjoyed her dream job designing girls’ clothing for The Gap for more than a decade, but she discovered her true passion when she spent a week with her grandmother as a preteen. “She had all these paintings on the walls that were her copies of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings and abstract artwork, and I copied her copies,” recalls the White Plains mom of two. “After that, I bought art supplies whenever I could.”
As a teenager, Stirling painted her favorite album covers in watercolors. But as the years progressed, she found herself falling in and out of painting depending on what was going on in her life. Two babies and a career in fashion (she designed clothes at J.Crew and Liz Claiborne before Gap Inc.) dominated her time as an adult, but when her kids started needing her less, Stirling painted more.
While she always liked to “play with unexpected color and shape,” she really came into her own over the past five years. “I don’t know how this happened, but my style changed,” Stirling says. “I started gravitating toward geometrical patterns and symmetrical abstracts, and I’m kind of obsessed with them now.”
Most of her art is on watercolor paper, upon which she sketches freehand or linearly before dipping her brush into watercolor or gouache paint, which is similar to watercolor but opaque. Sometimes she works with metallic paints or an ink pen. Regardless of medium, Stirling draws inspiration from her fashion industry career, nature, and daily life. “Inspiration is everywhere,” she says.
Stirling believes her paintings can find a spot in any home. “It’s up to the homeowner if they want to share it with others as a focal point or keep it to themselves by displaying it in the bedroom,” she says.
Her work is for sale on Instagram (instagram.com/cqstirling) and via private commission.