Catherine DeYoung enamels because it allows her to leave behind artistic artifacts that reflect the time and place in which she lives- New Orleans. She enamels in New Orleans because of the numerous costume holidays and rich culture from food to celebrating. Enameling is the ancient art of melting thin layers of glass onto copper, fine silver, 18k gold, and iron. The first enamels date back to Egypt over 4000 years ago. Transparent enamels are enchanting permanent watercolors, while opaque colors are bold and graphic. Catherine’s enamel colors are inspired by the vibrant hued houses in New Orleans and by the glitter and sparkle of the Muses parade. New Orleans has seeped into her soul and filters out through her hands and into her work, play, and dreams.
We sat down with Catherine and asked her 10 questions.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I have a serious phobia of suede. I really don’t even like saying the word.
Describe your art in three words.
Feminine, detailed, and durable.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, or in your neighborhood, specifically influences your work?
The colors of the houses, the plants, flowers, insects, and people are all sources of inspiration for me. Details in a flowers petal, the dots and shades of brown, green, red and orange on a cicada and the color of my neighbor’s eyes are what I try to recreate with enamel.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I start by thinking very hard about my topic; I think about it for weeks, sometimes months. Then I imagine the piece of artwork that I want to make that expresses how I feel about my topic. I create a piece of artwork with very few sketches that come out how I imagined it. I always accept happy accidents or details that my hands think of and my mind was unaware of. My hands have a mind of their own. Some pieces I work on for years. Each of my more elaborate works has its time and place for being finished and can’t be rushed.
Where do you draw inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the beautiful details that are all around me in New Orleans.
Who are your artistic influences, or gurus?
I have always loved the paintings of Marsden Hartley. I also have been heavily influenced by design from the Art Nouveau era, in particular the works of Alphonse Mucha. I idolize the enamelist Kenneth Bates. He was the godfather of modern American enameling; I have a deep connection with him.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
I think the music of Billie Holiday goes well with my work. I love the velvety richness in her voice. Her vivid visual lyrics have influenced many facets of my life.
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
You will find me on my porch with my neighbors, my husband, my children and my cats; only some of us drinking wine.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
I love the morning time; I have energy and a fresh clean mind.