Catherine Eaton Skinner grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. surrounded by the fresh and salt waters, majestic mountains and old growth forests. She received her BA in Biology from Stanford University, simultaneously studying painting with Bay Area Figurative painters, Nathan Oliveira and Frank Lobdell. Early on she worked 20 years as a Biological Illustrator, specializing in drawing the ecological integration of marine invertebrates and algae of the Pacific Coast. She now works full time as a painter, sculptor, printer, photographer and writer. Her studio in Santa Fe, NM, is a mountain desert retreat from the cool grays and business bustle of her studio in Seattle, WA.
Skinner has been working with encaustic media and oil on panel for over 16 years. Encaustic is derived from the ancient Greek word encaustikos, meaning “to burn”. Molten beeswax is applied with a brush, and layers of colored wax and oil sticks added and fused in multiple layers, intensifying the color and depth of the work. The layers of wax may be transparent or opaque, scraped, incised or built up like sculptural relief. The durability of encaustic is due to the addition of damar resin, making it impervious to moisture, yellowing and darkening. When buffed with a soft cloth, encaustic waxes look much like glazed tiles.
Skinner’s work has a depth of layers that matches her need to allow a work be beautiful, as well as spiritual. She moves from the simplicity of tantric symbols to the complications of grids and multiplicity. Ravens, herons and birds move amongst her trees that stretch tall, marking the energy between sky and earth. Animals stand watch and are honored for their innate knowledge of the importance of our collective life force. The five elements come into play in the actual physicality of her media: beeswax, resin, and oil; stones and metals; lead sheeting, precious metals; cast glass and bronze; textiles and natural dyes; collected old book pages and handmade Himalayan papers.
Skinner’s Marking Sacred series gives expression to her journeys through many cultures over the years. From ancient time forward, people have journeyed to sacred places, and as Skinner writes, "We live in a world where it may be difficult to feel a part of the whole, but we continue trying to find ways to connect to place and to each other. By leaving offerings of our own, we connect not only with those who have come before us, but also to those pilgrims yet to come".
The Radius Books 2016 spring release of Skinner’s monograph, 108, features twelve years of work, pursuing a deep investigation of this symbolic sacred number, using repetition in multiple explorations. Her artwork is included in the 2010 Art of Discovery, Exploring a Northwest Art Collection, and the 2009 Speak For the Trees. She released her first book Unleashed, in December 2008, a visual anthology portraying her passion, not only for animals of this world, but her relationship amongst them. Skinner's photographs are featured on the cover and throughout one of the Raven Chronicles, a quarterly publication of art literature and spoken word.
Having completed 33 solo exhibitions, Skinner is currently represented at the Abmeyer + Wood Fine Art in Seattle, WA, Waterworks Gallery in Friday Harbor, WA, and Mill Contemporary in Santa Fe, NM. Her artwork has been in numerous invitational museum and gallery exhibitions, and is placed in multiple international private collections. Public collections include The University of Washington's Henry Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Swedish Orthopedic Hospital. Skinner’s artwork and writing may be found at www.ceskinner.com.
“I have worked on old tables with three children running around them, in shallow basements and tiny attics. I have had work destroyed by fire and ice. I have experienced the joy of writing, often using my poetry for my statements. I have continued to learn by self and by masters and by mentors. What I have earned and learned I try to pass on to others to encourage their work. My pilgrimage of 70 years has become who I am in mind and spirit”.