World of Water Colours: A chat with artist Cait Osbourne

Artist Cait Osbourne surrounded by her works

Watercolour artist Cait Osbourne spoke to Limerick Voice about her colourful and creative world, and the importance of support small local artists

By Sadhbh Pearse

The Treaty City has always been known for its love of art whether it be music, the written word or a good old fashioned painting.
Through all of the well known musicians, poets and performers, we came across the talented painter Cait Osborne, originally from Northern Ireland. Cait is a Limerick based painter who focus’ primarily on water colour paintings and even performed a live demo on Culture Night, where we got to see her create a beautiful water colour painting of sunflowers from start to finish.
Limerick Voice reporter Sadhbh Pearse caught up with the artist to get an insight into her colourful and creative world.

Firstly, if you could just tell us about a bit about yourself – who is Cait?

I’m an Irish artist based in Limerick. My parents moved here from Northern Ireland, so I felt a bit like an immigrant growing up here in the 80’s and 90’s. Limerick wasn’t as multicultural then as it is today. I paint in expressively in a colourful impressionist style. I love the buzz of getting outdoors to paint (Irish weather allowing) but also spend a lot of painting time in my garden studio. I am married to Luke, who manages cybersecurity in the finance sector. I have two boys ages 15 and 13, and one girl age 10. I have sold paintings locally and internationally through Etsy and other websites but am really hoping to build a stronger local base and also become more comfortable showing my work offline.

How did your art journey begin?
I always enjoyed drawing, painted occasionally and even did an art certificate and portfolio course, but I really committed to my art practice in 2011 after having a miscarriage. I had two small boys at home but I realised then I needed to make space for myself and I started painting at the kitchen table. At first it was in small snatches of time, like when my daughter was taking a nap, but I gradually had more time to create as they got older. I started an Etsy shop back in 2015 and selling there gave me a bit of a boost of confidence. Since 2019 I’ve really been more conscious about the business side of things, and trying to grow that alongside my art practice.

What makes water colours your preferred medium?
I love the freedom of watercolour the way you can just drop colour into water on a page, watch it flow, move and change- it’s magical! I love experimenting with the transparency and granulation of the colours. Its one of the best media for trying out new colour combinations and mixes.

When my time was very limited it was great to be able to make progress on a painting in short space of time. You do have to pause to let things dry so it’s also a way to just slow down and be more meditative or contemplative in what you’re doing. I also often use watercolour for sketching outdoors too because it’s quite lightweight and you can pack everything you need in a small bag.
I paint in oils also and I really enjoy the contrast of switching between the two very different media.

Do you have any advice for those starting out on their art journey, whether it be recreational or professional?

Find and cultivate good support, to have in place for the times you get discouraged. There’s a few moments where I really felt tempted to quit. Having a supportive partner and encouraging friends really helped. I don’t think it necessarily even has to be other artists, just people who get you and you know you can depend on. Being an artist is a life long journey.

In terms of supplies I don’t think you need anything special to get started, buy the best quality you can, but not so expensive you’ll be hesitant to use it. The more you create the faster you will improve so you need to be generous with your supplies. I use artist quality paints and high quality 100% cotton paper now, but when I started I even used stuff from Lidl. When you start to get frustrated with the limitations of student grade materials that’s the sign to upgrade. Also I think when you start selling you want to buy quality materials so you know your customers are getting good quality that will last. I use Roman Szmal watercolours which are made in Poland, my favourite paper is Saunders Waterford but I also use a lot of Fabriano Artistico.

As regards booking venues it really just boils down to holding your nerve and asking. It helps to be clear about what you want to show and practice writing proposals and being able to talk about your work.

One of Cait’s pieces – Seeing the Light

What’s the art scene like in Limerick? How do you feel about it?
Honestly, I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider, there’s a lot of different groups and some of them are more for art graduates while others can be more hobby oriented. I think it’s a maybe a little fractured. Most of the other artists I’ve met have been very encouraging, though, so overall I think there’s a pretty positive art community here in Limerick.

What is your favourite and least favourite things about being an artist?
My favourite thing is that I get to do this, I really just enjoy the process of creation so much, taking in inspiration from the world around me and making something new that didn’t exist before.

My least favourite thing is cleaning brushes! Well, really it’s probably filling in forms and doing paperwork. Though it is satisfying when you get those admin jobs finished.

How can people find and support you?
There’s my website where you’ll find my main body of work, and you can use the contact page there to message me, sign up for my newsletter and hear about any events, special offers etc. I also sell on Etsy as TheCaitGallery (mainly smaller works) I’m on Facebook and my Instagram handle is @osbornecaitriona where I regularly post work in progress images.

A great way to support myself or any artist is to like, comment or share our work as that really broadens the reach or potential audience by allowing your friends/contacts see the artwork we produce.

Finally, many people believe they can’t afford original art, but one thing to consider is how much you would spend on a meal or a night out and think about whether that’s an amount you would consider spending on a piece of original artwork instead. You might decide that for one week you’d rather part with your money for an experience that lasts.

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