Catherine Beale

Catherine Beale is a watercolourist who lives and works in Somerset. She specialises in contemporary portraits at her studio-gallery in bath.

Catherine was schooled on the edge of Wiltshire’s desolate chalk downland. She was directed down an academic route and had to fight to take an extra a level in art. In spare moments she sought the calm of the school’s “artshack” – a converted piggery. Her first portrait was a study in oil pastels of her art teacher’s wife.

Catherine received many school awards and was asked to design stage sets, posters and programmes for school productions. After university and a period working in London, Catherine moved to Asia. In Singapore she witnessed first hand the demolition of beautiful old buildings to make way for the new city of steel and glass. She felt compelled to record this disappearing heritage and often just beat the demolition crews to well known dilapidated buildings. She used oil paints – better suited to tropical humidity. Often on the move, Catherine would ventilate hotel rooms to rid them of the pungent smell of white spirit and oil paint. Art projects led Catherine to unusual locations such as a remote elephant sanctuary in the rain forest. They took her into the homes of expatriates to draw their children – sometimes battling against poor light during intense thunder storms and encountering tropical wildlife while painting their homes. Her sell-out first exhibition was held under the ceiling fans in Singapore’s British High Commissioner’s residence and a series of her watercolours of the stunning blue and white residence were printed to celebrate its bi-centenary. The prints were sold for charity and the originals were gifted to the British royal family and the Singapore presidential palace. Other commissions included the American Embassy, the British club, Reuters, Caltex and financial institutions. Her architectural prints were sold at Changi airport and still sell in Singapore galleries.

On her return to Bath in 2006 Catherine continued to hone her life drawing skills under the tutelage of Saied Dai (portrait painter who trained at the royal academy). She finds watercolours ideal for depicting the clear complexion of children’s skin and the gloss on
animals’ fur. The saturated colours in her work have been influenced by her years in Asia where colour pervades every facet of life from rice cakes to kabyas. Her painting style has developed to exploit the pattern of movement of pigment particles in water and she uses
watercolour board which will take constant wetting. Numerous layers of shimmering hues appear as she drops into near-dry paint, disturbing pigments. Catherine uses landscapes to experiment and develop her techniques. They depict light playing through mists and over ridge tops in the folded limestone scenery of bath.

Catherine’s recent portraits have been selected for the Bath Society of Artists’ Summer Exhibitions, the prestigious Holburne portrait prize and the Royal West of England Academy autumn exhibition. A tender portrait of her son recently hung with the royal watercolour
society in London’s mall galleries and with the royal institute of painters in watercolour in London’s Bankside gallery.