Artist Spotlight Series: Cathy Lancaster

My latest Artist Spotlight Series feature was recommended by another artist, Ellen Schuster.

I am immediately drawn to her vibrant abstracts.

Enjoy getting to know the talented

Cathy Lancaster

Chicago, Illinois

What is your training? 

I am self-taught. I come from a long line of creatives. My great grandmother was a quilter and my mom was creating my whole life. She sewed almost all of my dresses and I would pick out fabric, trims, buttons from the earliest days. She took classes from furniture building to french hand sewing. She started painting and selling her work around 1994.

I had no idea I was an artist when I was in school. The only thing that might have been a clue was that I would doodle and day dream. I didn’t draw and I never really chose art electives in school because I played sports. It wasn’t until 2004 that I started painting at my mother’s insistence. I was always coming up with ideas for her to paint. We stayed with my parents on our way to take our daughter to summer camp and she had all the supplies and told me I had to try painting which I did over the course of 3 days. She took my first paintings to where she was selling and put them on her wall. 4 of the 5 sold almost immediately and I was like, well I guess I’m an artist now. I kept experimenting and selling most everything I made. From there I worked my way to gallery representation in many cities across the southeast as my career took off.

What inspires you and your designs?

I feel a little bit like my brain is a digital recorder. I feel like I’m always taking in art and design everywhere I go. I love architecture, interior design, fashion… really I’m inspired by watching creatives push out of sameness. We have lived in some very inspiring cities and small towns New Orleans, Oxford, Mississippi, Memphis and now Chicago.

I love playing with paint and began tinkering several years ago with collage which has taken me down a type of rabbit hole that has really slowed down my process a lot but it’s become thrilling to use things I might hang on to for years before I decide exactly how I want to incorporate them into a new painting or series of paintings. I love switching from painting on canvas, wood and paper. I also really love painting with children and getting them to leave behind pieces for me to use in future work.

What is your favorite piece?

How has your area influenced your work?

I launched out last year and opened my own solo gallery here in Chicago partly because I also started tinkering with textiles around 2015. Chicago has been such a wonderful place for me as a whole person. Honestly, after raising our 3 children and being constantly in the car it has been invigorating to be in a city where I can walk everywhere. The gallery is 2 blocks from Wrigley Field and our apartment is 2 blocks from the gallery. Chicago is insanely beautiful and livable. I am constantly meeting people here and am so grateful to have constant sources of inspiration in such a historic and beautiful city.

What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?

That’s a really hard question in such food city. Chicago is known for its hotdogs and I love Wrigleyville Dogs a block from Wrigley Field.

We love Monte Verde in the West Loop. Pequads for deep dish, and Greek Island in Greektown.

What is your favorite cocktail?

Skinny margarita

How do you balance personal life and work?

Boy oh boy is this hard now that I’m a small business owner, but that’s where being able to walk to the grocery around the corner is so great. Covid has been a weird time to figure all of this out. One thing I’m starting to do that is helping me make sure I get walking in is walking in the mornings to get my coffee. We love walking along Lake Michigan. We love live music, comedy, of course going to Cubs games (even though Cubs fans are super sad about most of its players being traded and it’s not the same) and pretty much all the performing arts. We try to make time to enjoy a lot of the things Chicago has to offer.

Dream trip?

I’d love a grandmother, mother, daughter trip some day to France. My mom loves painting the countryside of Italy and I would love to get her more photos of beautiful scenery in France. My daughter Lucy would keep us all straight and out of trouble.

Dream commission?

I’m obsessed with Kit Kemp’s design for Firmdale Hotels.

My dream of all dreams would be to create a series of paintings to be used throughout a new Firmdale Hotel hanging on walls covered in my wallpaper beneath banquettes, headboards, chairs and sofas covered in my fabrics.

Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

I’ve created lots of fun products with my designs. A bigger gift for being invited to a beach house or lake house would be one of my custom cornhole board sets, or one of my Party Tables with coordinating Igloo Coolers. Smaller gift would be one of my acrylic trays. 

Who is your style icon?

Joy Cho of Oh Joy! I love her fancy casual vibe. She has down the perfect mix of colorful, tastefully unique looks incorporating vintage clothing and jewelry in such fun modern ways.

Your favorite up and coming artist?

This has been a hard question because you’ve featured so many of my favorites already!
Mary Long 

Back at Ellen Schuster

My mom will always be one of my most favorites Priscilla Cunningham

What is your most treasured possession?

A custom dining table my husband’s uncle built for our last home in Memphis. We collaborated the design he built to scale for our dining room for our home built in 1918. He built it from a cherry tree that fell during Hurricane Katrina which means a lot to our family as our home flooded in New Orleans during Katrina.

What are you reading?

I just finished The Four Winds which I read in 3 days a few weeks ago. I’ve not started an new book yet.

What are you listening to?

My son Bedon is an indie artist working on his second album which he will be releasing in the coming months. We are so excited for him to go for his dream of rock stardom. He graduated in 2020 and lives in Nashville. I’m a huge music lover and have been obsessed with Phoebe Bridgers who we got to see perform last weekend. Check out one of my son’s friends Lo Noom on Spotify also. I love Bon Iver, Magic City Hippies, Mt Joy, Brook and the Bluff, Amy Winehouse, and by the way #FREEBRITNEY

What are your favorite blogs / publications?

Domino, Elle Decor, Traditional Home, Apartment Therapy, Architctural Digest, House Beautiful. Effortless Style Interiors (Camilla Pavone), Pretty Pink Tulips 


Be sure to follow Cathy Lancaster on her website and Instagram.

Here is a look at a few of her stunning pieces. 


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