Creatives – In the Studio with Cathie Parmelee
In this series on The Southern C, readers get to “meet” many of the interesting and creative Southern entrepreneurs we know online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits. These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Take a peek into their day to day life, find out what they are working on, discover their “a-ha” moment and gain insight into what motivates and inspires their work and lives.
The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions. We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region. According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious”, and this is one thing we are happy to spread.
This week I am excited to take a peek into the world and processes of one of my favorite artists, Cathie Parmelee. I have long been a fan and have enjoyed following her artistic endeavors through the years. A fourth-generation native and lifelong resident of St.Simons Island, GA, Cathie is a prolific storyteller whose bold color, with added texture and shine, paints the stories she experiences in her dreams. Painting under multiple signatures— Cathie Parmelee, Dixie Love, Lizzie, Lovie and My Sister Sally— each alias offers a unique style and personality. Her works are in numerous private and corporate collections throughout the U.S.and her work has graced the covers of cookbooks and magazines.
DESCRIBE YOUR ART AND PROCESS:
I AM A STORYTELLER. OVER THE YEARS I’VE DEVELOPED AN ARRAY OF STYLES AND PERSONALITIES IN MY WORK TO TELL MY STORIES. I PAINT UNDER MULTIPLE SIGNATURES/ALIASES . THE APPROACH TO THE CANVAS IS DICTATED BY WHAT STYLES I’M WORKING ON AT THE TIME.
EVERY PIECE STARTS WITH LOTS OF SKETCHES, MAYBE A SMALL PASTEL OR BLACK AND WHITE PAINTING OR I SIMPLY PAINT IT ALLA PRIMA (ALL AT ONCE). I JUST START THROWING PAINT ON THE CANVAS. I DON’T FUNCTION WELL WITH ANY ONE SET OF RULES.
DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY “IN THE STUDIO”:
A STUDIO DAY STARTS VERY EARLY. I USUALLY HAVE 5 TO 6 PAINTINGS I AM WORKING ON AT ONE TIME. I BREAK AROUND 11:00AM FOR A QUICK LUNCH THEN I PHOTOGRAPH THE PAINTINGS I’VE WORKED ON AND DO A CRITICAL CRITIQUE. I MAKE MY CORRECTIONS AND BY 1:30PM, I TAKE ANOTHER ROUND OF PHOTOS AND CRITIQUES… BY 2:00PM I CALL IT A DAY.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP ?
THOSE THAT KNOW ME WELL WOULD TELL YOU I’LL NEVER GROW UP. I HAVE TO AGREE BUT IF I DO I WANT TO BE CINDERELLA.
HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND INFLUENCED YOUR WORK:
I’VE AWAYS KNOWN I WAS A PAINTER, I WAS BORN THAT WAY…IT WAS NOT A CHOICE. IT CAME ALONG WITH THE BROWN EYES, FAIR SKIN, AND FRECKLES. I COME FROM A FAMILY OF CREATIVES – MY GREAT GRAND MOTHER WAS A PAINTER AND A WINDSOR NEWTON DISTRIBUTOR OF THEIR PAINT AND BRUSHES. MY MOTHER LET US PAINT AND COLOR ON THE WALLS OF OUR HOME GROWING UP…EVERYONE I WAS SURROUNDED BY WAS A CREATIVE.
MY A-HA MOMENT CAME WHEN I WAS WATCHING AN INTERVIEW WITH GEORGIA O’KEEFFE ON TELEVISION. I WAS AWED BY THIS FAMOUS WOMAN PAINTER. IT WAS RARE TO SEE A PAINTER ON TELEVISION… LET ALONE A FEMALE. SHE WAS SO STRONG. AS I LISTENED TO HER I KEPT THINKING SHE SPEAKS THE SAME LAUNGE AS ME. SHE IS DIFFERENT LIKE ME.
IT WAS THE LATE 60’S, SHE DID NOT LOOK LIKE ANY OF THE WOMEN I WAS AROUND. JUST SEEING HER IN HER STUDIO WITH CANVASES THE SIZE OF A WALL, SIMPLY DRESSED, NO MAKE, UP GREY HAIR PILED ON TOP OF HER HEAD. I FELT AS IF I WAS LOOKING AT MYSELF AT THE AGE OF 80. SOMETHING JUST CLICKED IN ME BY SEEING HER ON TV. IT VALIDATED ME. AT ONCE IT WAS OK TO THINK OUT OF THE COLOR BOX. SINCE THAT DAY I BECAME CONFIDENT ABOUT MY ART WORK. SHE GAVE ME SUPER POWERS.
FAVORITE BIZ TOOL:
MY GUT AND GOOSE BUMPS.
I LOVE SO MANY! IT CHANGES WEEKLY.
FAVORITE BUSINESS BOOK:
DO THE WORK BY STEVE PRESSFIELD
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
FROM MY DREAMS …I LITERALLY DREAM IN CARTOONS WITH SOUND TRACKS.
ON THE RARE DAY OFF – WHAT DO YOU DO TO UNWIND?
UNWINDING FOR ME IS DIFFICULT. I CAN DO IT IF I CHANGE MY LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE.
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE:
1. BUILD A TEAM OF PEOPLE THAT ARE EXPERTS ON WHAT YOU ARE NOT. THE CATCH IS TO TAKE THEIR ADVICE!
2. DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORS BACK YARD, TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN AND YOUR GARDEN WILL GROW.
3. HIRE TRACI LONG DeFORGE. SHE IS MY BUSINESS STRATEGIST AND SHE OFFERS INSIGHT ON THE BUSINESS SIDE OF MY ART BUSINESS. EVEN BETTER…SHE TAKES CARE OF STEPS 1 AND 2 FOR ME. THAT’S MY FAVORITE PART!
BOOK – THE BIBLE OR ANYTHING WRITTEN BY SAMUEL CLEMENS
MOVIE – ANY MOVIE WITH AUDREY HEPBURN OR DORIS DAY
SONG – BE THOU MY VISION –AN OLD HYMN
DRINK – HOT TEA OR VERY COLD CHAMPAGNE
INDULGENCE – CHANEL BATH POWER
Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors.
This series – “In the Studio With” – offers her the perfect opportunity to do so! For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below: