We had the good fortune of connecting with Catherine Gauché and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Catherine, why did you pursue a creative career?
I can’t go very long without drawing or painting. Without a tactile way to express myself I feel something is very wrong or missing. I pursued an artistic career because, for me, there is no other option, unless placed in a very dire situation (touch wood).
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Collaborative Children’s Portraits take up 95% of my painting time. These are the result of an experimental art project I did with her eldest daughter, Eva when she was four years old. I’d always liked the idea of creating a mom-daughter artwork together, so that’s what we tried. Eva painted the background of her canvas. She could use any colors she liked and paint whatever she liked. I encouraged her to not think about it too much and make her first mark as soon as possible so that her brushstrokes would be as natural as possible, and a reflection of her four year old self. Her painting was expressive with a wide range of brushstrokes and vibrant colors of pinks, teal and neons (which do glow under fluorescent light)and she finished off with a few small hearts before signing her name. Next was my turn and I painted her portrait over, trying my best not to compromise the unique mark that she had left on the canvas. The result was an artwork and memory truly special to the both of us. Eva is eight years old now, and I get such a happy, nostalgic sense of her at that age when I look at her portrait. Our experiment led me to wonder if there could be other parents who’d like their children to be involved in collaborative portraits with me. After an inquiry post on Facebook, and 300 commission inquiries over 24 hours, the rest is history. It’s hard to explain the amount of joy it brings me to create these collaborations with children and to see the joy it brings families. My hope is that each painting reflects an essence of that child at that time of their life, their brushstrokes, their favorite colors, their face, their personality. It took me a long time to find ‘my thing’ in this big crazy world of art and I tried my hand at many things, Graphic Design, Illustration, Children’s Decor Art, Gallery Work and even face painting for birthday parties. I thought of giving up many times and get ‘real job’ but so glad I never did. I will be very happy if I can paint portraits until I’m a very, very old lady.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my bestie from Cape Town, South Africa came to visit we could have such a grand time in Houston! Firstly we’d stay in the Omni in the Galleria. I love this hotel because it’s central, affordable, comfortable, has a great pool and a shuttle to get you to your favorite places. We’ll do some window shopping in Highland Village, have some fabulous meals and drinks in the River Oaks District, specifically the lobster bisque at Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette and a Moscow Mule at Bosscat Kitchen & Libations. We’ll go to the Heights to browse thrift stores, take a walk in the Arboretum and visit the Museum of Fine Arts. Of course we’ll have to visit my art studio and have the best coffee in town at Bean Here Coffee Lab & Studios in Arcola!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In March, I moved out of my art studio, due to the pandemic, and started working from home, sharing an office space with my hubby, who’s in oil and gas. As much as I love his company and the coziness of our home, I know from experience that working from home is not a good fit for me. Deon and I have polar opposite occupations and work habits; I make way too much mess and need lot of light and space, he’s very tidy and likes to keep the curtains drawn to avoid glare on his screens, and he types a lot (I’m not sure why but the sound of typing doesn’t help me get into the creative zone). A few months before the start of the pandemic I had plans to move into a new studio, which I’d been so excited about. It was to be my first real commercial space. Previously I was working out of a friend’s garage and before that from the same shared home office. But now, who was to know what would happen? Many of my clients grew worried with the looming financial strains on the economy and cancelled the painting commissions they had booked. The portraits I paint are collaborations with children. Kids paint an expressive painting on canvas with my help either at their home or in my studio, then I paint their portrait over what now becomes the background. Some parents were concerned about the safety of collaborating, now that social distancing was becoming a reality. As my schedule emptied more and more, I found out that my new studio space would be ready for move in soon! This did not seem like a good time to commit, but after seeing the space, which was halfway built I knew I couldn’t let up on an amazing opportunity. I’ve had my little studio inside Bean Here Coffee Lab & Studio since June, and it has been the best thing for my business! Bean Here Coffee Lab is a large industrial style roastery, coffee shop and event space with a couple of cool studios, and a commercial kitchen available for hire by the hour. My own studio is right next to the coffee bar, so I get a steady flow of comforting coffee aromas and friendly faces while I paint. Coffee shop owner, Mike Ouano, had asked me what I needed in my studio and my answer was natural light, so during the buildout he made sure my studio got plenty of windows. It is now officially the brightest, lightest room in the entire building, an absolute treat for a painter. He has also set aside a separate area in the loft of the coffee shop as a teaching space, where I offer socially distanced art lessons. Despite a pandemic and a hard year, my schedule has filled up again and I’m teaching three + lessons a week. Many have found a renewed interest and respect for the benefits of art, especially for children who’ve been dealing with the isolation of online schooling. I don’t know if I would have been perceptive enough to this new demand in creative endeavors if I’d been tucked away from the world. The atmosphere at Bean Here Coffee Lab & Studios, teaching eager students in a safe environment, good light, company and wonderful smells of a coffee have been so good for my creativity. And did I mention my artwork is printed on their coffee cup sleeves?