BET U DIDNT KNOW: CATHY THE PAINTER
“When you are an artist, you cant just depend on that.” Cathy Merritt is a Toronto-based painter most of the time, and a caterer and massage therapist at other times.
Her studio and massage therapy room are located behind Honest Ed’s. When you walk into her studio, you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder. The walls are covered in Cathy’s paintings, each a different style than the other.
I found the tree series interesting. One piece from the series hangs in her studio. “That was an actual tree,” explains Cathy. “I pulled off the road and I said ‘oh my god’. He was still alive, this tree! And I saw all these things happening. He’s fighting death. You could see right through it. It’s falling apart, but there is still so much life left on this one branch. It was fighting to the end. I love it.”
Cathy’s training in art started at a young age. Her grandmother, an artist as well, would sit on the front porch and mix paints and teach Cathy. Cathy’s father, who also painted, motivated Cathy to get into art college. She went to OCAD (formerly known as OCA) back in the 1960s, as well as the University of Guelph. After her partner’s death, she stopped painting for a while. She got back into painting when she started taking classes at the Art Academy of Canada which specializes in renaissance. Around this time, at the age of 50, she went back to school for massage therapy.
She had been working at a sports clinic as a massage therapist, and enjoyed it. However, as she is getting older, massaging is beginning to get harder, and so she is getting back to painting. She loves doing her sky paintings, but she says that she needs portraits as well. Sometimes. after doing an intense portrait. she will do a sky painting to realign herself.
Cathy’s father’s presence is all around her studio. Along one wall sits a hand painted rocking chair. She recalls that when she was 16, he found it in a field, and brought it into his basement to paint. He would not let Cathy come down into the basement because he was busy doing the golf-leaf. All these years later, it sits perfectly preserved in her studio. On her table, sits a tool box that her father made, full of his tools.
I asked Cathy about her masterpiece…the one painting that she was most proud of. Unfortunately. it was not in the studio. However, she did express a fondness for this one piece that was sitting in a gallery when someone slashed it. Despite the diagonal slash, it still is a beautiful piece.
Cathy is often commissioned to do portraits. You can get in touch with her through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.