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Artist Profile: Cathy Sawdey Continues Making her "Marks"

Cathy Sawdey, a featured artist in the Carroll County Arts Center's new "Full Figure" exhibition, uses pencil, charcoal, pastels and paints to clarify her thoughts and life experiences.

Cathy Sawdey began drawing as a child. 

Yet unlike many who leave paints and pencils behind with their last required art course, Sawdey’s love for art led her to pursue it as a degree.  She obtained her bachelor's degree in studio art in 1980; but she admits the degree didn’t lead her into a solid career in the field.

“I’m pretty sure I came out of college undistinguished and unprepared to live the 'artist’s life,' or even able to fit it into a job slot during the recession of the day.  Despite this course, I still like to draw and paint and am grateful I can still do so,” Sawdey explained. 

Raised in a family of math and science-educated computer professionals, Sawdey isn’t exactly sure how her passion for art ignited. 

“I just like to draw, who knows why, it just starts in the head and comes out graphically,” she said. 

Sawdey is married to an electronics engineer. Although they differ in their talents, she is able to look at her family and husband’s work with an artistic eye.  

“From them I have come to see there is a beauty in math and physics that I admire as much as I admire a drawing by Toulouse-Lautrec,” she noted. 

Sawdey makes figurative art.  She most often renders figures and portraits in monochromatic or limited palettes.

“The human figure is a subject that asserts our existence and offers empathy….I prefer to work from life, working up a speed with as much force as I can transmit through the pencil/charcoal/pastel stick,” Sawdey said.

Sawdey is one of 10 partners in the artists’ cooperative gallery, Off Track Art located in downtown Westminster, which features a selection of her drawings.

Sawdey also shares in a community of artists at the Yellow Barn Studio in Glen Echo.

Sawdey has no rigid plans for her artistic future other than continuing to make her "marks." 

“I have a goal of bridging the life-movement of figurative art to other kinds of pictures:  I want to see the figurative in spaces where no figures are visible, to perfect a work abundant with personal human spirit,” she said.

Patch: What do you enjoy about creating this type of art?

Sawdey: I just like making marks.  It helps me think.  Drawing is something to which I have always returned in furthering a nonverbal idea of the world, applying uncomplicated materials to clarify a thought.  The immediacy of drawing offers the most direct way of marking my experience of life.

Patch:  What/who inspires you and your art?

Sawdey: People that I work alongside, no matter their art-making experience or lack thereof, always inspire me.  There is a fresh insight into witnessing the action of someone drawing or painting, watching the process of a work forming and coming into being.  Having said that, many finished works of art displayed in museums/galleries also influence me.  Famous artists whose work show me something important are Richard Diebenkorn, Egon Schiele, Giacometti, R.B. Kitaj, Otto Dix to name a few. 

Beginning Oct. 6, Sawdey’s works will be featured in a group exhibition entitled “Full Figure."  The showcase will be held at the Carroll Arts Center and will run through Nov. 16.  Click here for more information.

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