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Another Octoartist: Caitlyn Stewart

Caitlyn Stewart is a Maryland artist who also has a few octopi in her portfolio.

I've taken a deep dive into octoart to observe how other artists treat my favorite cephalopod. Stewart does a lot of work with alcohol inks, a medium I've not yet attempted, but it's in my queue.

Like me, Caitlyn went through a period during which life got in the way, leaving art to take a back seat to health issues. Here's her story:

They say you don't know what you've got until it's gone, but for myself it was more like, I didn't know what I'd lost until I'd found it again.

From a very young age I was told by teachers, family, and strangers alike that I had a "natural talent" for creativity and encouraged to pursue it. I took as many art courses as I could, was accepted into higher level classes, featured in a handful of art shows, and placed in competitions at local and state levels. I even managed to convince one of my teachers to allow me (and subsequently the entire class) the use of mechanical pencils in lieu of a standard one because I'd told her I felt I had better control over that form, and she was willing to alter her policy to feed my enthusiasm, something she had never done before. My mother said she lost count of how many times she had to steam vac my old room after I moved out to get the various mediums from the carpet, but never commented on my "accents" until years later, afraid she'd discourage me.

Then life and responsibilities came between me and my passion for art.

First, college, padded with working two jobs, left me with little time to sleep, let alone have a hobby. I'd feared the uncertainty of an art degree and opted for another interest of mine, psychology. Within a year of graduating, my husband and I excitedly welcomed our first child. Although he was nine weeks premature, and the emotional toll was high, you'd never know in the present how turbulent his first months of life were. However, this, plus a cross-country move, another baby, followed by six surgeries (that took place within year and a half of each other), became quite the roller-coaster physically and mentally. Mostly though, I feel this last proverbial nail was the one that sealed my muse in her coffin.

It wasn't until two years after delivering my second child, several months after my last surgery, that I was finally finding myself again. It started with getting back into shape after being unable to keep up a regular work out regimen due to my health for so long, prior to which I'd been an avid gym attendant. As the confidence in my appearance and health returned, so did many aspects of myself I didn't realize had faded, particularly my passion for art. One day I found an old sketch book and impulsively began to draw for a bit, and the next day and the next. I'd been intimidated at first, since it had been nearly eight years since I'd participated actively in my hobby, but it was like riding a bike. As my sketchpad filled up, so did a corner of my loving and supportive husband's office with an art desk and whatever supplies I could manage.

I'd always been very shy about my work, so the paintings in particular began as a mere desire to decorate my house affordably. It didn't make sense to go out and buy art when I had been blessed with the talent to create my own. Although slightly nervous about what others might think, I began to post my creations online. I was pleasantly shocked at the amount of positive feedback I received, and appreciated the constructive criticism. What truly drove me to start my little shop was the number of friends, family, and strangers alike who adamantly and passionately encouraged me to do so. Some of them even run their own successful shops and said they felt I had "the right stuff" to be successful as well, and I don't intend to let them down! Others were already inquiring about purchasing works I'd completed, or if particular subjects could be the focus of a future piece they might be interested in.

I have a variety of subjects I like to capture, though most often it's animals, floral, or nautical in theme. I lack an exact term to define my style, but lean towards whatever brushstrokes and colors I feel will best display my subject. Sometimes on a whim I will try something new, with mixed results, but whether or not I am satisfied weighs heavily on the fact that I took the chance.

In addition to octopuses, Caitlyn does some really charming images like this little fella on canvas using watercolor pens and alcohol ink.

Caitlyn's work is available for purchase in her Etsy shop, Ginger Strokes.


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