From vibrant bunches of flowers blazing with colour to carefully etched and shadowed figures, Sydney artist Catherin Bennett captures the fluidity and raw beauty of life in every one of her pieces.
What draws you to figurative art and the human body?
I love figurative art because each and every human body is so different. It’s truly no wonder that trying to capture the human form has always been part of the art world.
As humans we’re so expressive – every face, every shape, every colour: there’s so much variation. Then there is the gesture/action of a pose. An artist who can capture these never runs out of material.
I love that each person I paint or draw also has a story. My ideal is to bring some element of this to each piece. Or, sometimes, it’s something that evolves as I’m painting. Even the name of the artwork just automatically comes to mind when I look at it.
I also love that every person who looks at one of my artworks has a unique interpretation of it. This is why I titled my upcoming exhibition ‘Imagine’, as all of us have dreams and emotions that can be expressed through colour, art, dance, sculpture, music, and many other forms. All we have to do is imagine it. I imagine through my art.
How do you choose a subject or muse?
Fortunately I live in a beautiful country, and have a selection of fantastic models through the various galleries and drawing clubs I’m part of. I also base my artworks on nature and what I see around me.
Sometimes I bring home a piece of bark or flowers that have fallen to the ground so I can capture nature’s true colours. I then have a selection of my drawings or photos I’ve taken that I can base my artworks on. And I love researching the Old Masters of art history for inspiration.
How has your style evolved over the years?
I selected the strong black backgrounds in some of my pieces to really draw out the main subject – either the flowers, or the muscles of the human form. I find the colours in nature so incredible and, as an artist, to mix a colour in your palette is a true pleasure. This is why I love oil painting so much, and the unpredictability of how watercolours mix and move around is so much fun.
When I start the journey to create a piece or a collection, I usually draw from the colours around me – the ‘Seasons Collection’ of subjects was selected specifically based on this. I’m also finding recently that the human form and the emotion I wish to convey will also determine the colours I select: gentle, strong, moody, expressive, demure, and so on.
Let’s talk about body positivity and self-acceptance. Why is it so important for us to prioritise these things in our daily life?
I was approached by a person recently via my Instagram feed who wanted to start modelling for me. One of their comments was: “But I’m not that fit right now – do I have to get fit?” Straight away my response was: “Artists don’t look at if you’re fit, fat or fabulous. We look at each human form as the most amazing natural creation, and hope that as an artist we can convey this on canvas. Every body is beautiful.”
Self-love is a tough one. I think many of us struggle with it, but if each day we can look outside and feel part of nature’s beauty and remember that we are also a form of natural beauty ourselves – no matter what form we take – we can be better for it.
How has your art impacted your own story of personal growth?
Art has always been part of my story. Growing up with artists in the family and a natural propensity towards it has always been one way for me to express myself. I’m a very driven person and I’ve found in recent years that art has been something I can influence as I create.
The journey of creation certainly has many challenges, though. Sometimes I’m working on a piece and love it, then hate it, then love it again – go through ups and downs of “there’s so many other great artists out there, what am I doing?” So self-love and a belief in myself has been part of my journey. Recognising again that we are all unique, and what I have to offer the world is valuable too.
How important is representation in art when it comes to showcasing various body types, sizes and colours?
Critical! We come in all shapes and sizes. I don’t limit myself to one human type. I believe the art world is one place we don’t put limits. It’s up to our imagination. I have a piece I’ve called ‘Non-binary’ that I look forward to showing for the first time in December.
More art – more colours, more experimentation. I currently have a commission underway, so that’s very exciting, and I would love to do more. My vision is to soon open a small gallery where people can visit my studio and artspace.
Catherin’s original artworks can be purchased from her website. A percentage of every sale is donated to Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon initiative. cx2art.com
See Catherin’s upcoming exhibition at White Rhino Artspace in St Leonards, NSW, from 1-12 December 2021 (Dates subject to change due to COVID-19 restrictions). whiterhinoartspace.com.au