Images and ideas tend to float around in Catherine Booker Jones’ mind long before any paint hits the canvas. Her artistic process escapes categorization, and almost anything can become inspiration for this abstract artist. Known to compose her thoughts through collecting clippings of inspiration — a process she has dubbed “storylining” — Catherine’s artwork is equal parts minimalistic and layered. With an emphasis on shape and color, Catherine breaks boundaries and tests the limits of traditional art, and while her work is currently represented by several galleries across the nation, she claims Birmingham as home and joins a talented group of growing Magic City artists. We sat down with Catherine to talk inspiration and her thoughts on the city’s emerging arts scene.
How did you fall in love with art?
I can’t really pinpoint a specific time or moment where it all clicked. I’ve always had an urge to create and have dabbled in many different mediums since I was little. It’s consistently been an innate quality that has evolved throughout my life.
How would you describe your work?
My work is modern, focusing on color and shape. I’ve always had an appreciation for the unexpected, and I try and communicate that through the majority of my pieces. I am always trying new techniques and ideas, though, as that keeps it exciting and pushes me to exercise creative “muscles” that I’ve never tapped into.
Describe your process.
Before we had our daughter this past December, my process was very streamlined. I would roll around ideas in my head and write them down. Sometimes, I would analyze the colors and compositions for weeks at a time before I ever sat down to paint them. Most of the details were worked out by the time I got to the canvas, leaving a small margin for organic evolution. Now, post-baby, I’m finding that I have to communicate my ideas in other ways before I paint them. There are more steps involved before I get to the actual “work.” I incorporate many small studies and basically put anything on the wall that is inspiring me at the moment. I like to call it “storylining” as it allows me to get everything out and edit down to focus on a collective body of work, while still leaving room for an organic process once I sit down to paint. The change has been really fun!
What’s it like being an artist in Birmingham?
When I started painting about three years ago, I didn’t know many other local artists, but now there are so many more artists to connect with, and that’s my favorite part — tapping into the creative community and strengthening that presence.
Tell us about some of your favorite projects.
That’s a tricky one. I have multiple favorite projects, all for different reasons, but in general, I like projects that challenge me. Whether I’m asked to use a color palette I’m not used to, or whether I individually develop a new concept that forces me to explore it thoroughly, I always walk away from the experience a better artist with knowledge that I didn’t have before.
What inspires your work?
Just about everything. Color, light, texture, fashion, interiors, past experiences — I could go on and on.
When you’re not working, what’s your favorite way to unwind?
As of late, I love having a Saturday with my husband and daughter. Going to brunch, working in the yard, just kind of piddling around, maybe taking a nap!
How do you think Birmingham’s art scene is evolving?
I’m seeing more color incorporated into the palettes. Birmingham has always felt more neutral to me, but color is popping through, and I’m a big fan of that!
Who is your role model?
The women in my family.
Why do you think it’s important that people invest in local art?
From a practical standpoint, it supports the local economy, but more importantly, I think having a piece by an artist in your community can have a more personal feel to it because you’re living life alongside of them, in a sense.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m an only child.
What is your best piece of advice?
Always, always be true to yourself in everything you do. There’s only one you!
What are three things you can’t live without with the exception of faith, family and friends?
My bathtub, feather pillows on our bed and any kind of gummy candy
Thank you, Catherine! Explore Catherine’s works and keep up with her new releases on her website, catherinejonesstudio.com.
Thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for today’s beautiful photography of Catherine.
Meet more amazing Birmingham women in our FACES archives. Prepare to be inspired!