1. On your site, (cathynichols.com), I read that you tore up your application to law school and decided to become a full-time artist. Besides the Gandhi quote, be the change you wish to see in the world, what motivated you to change your mind? Why law school?
I was an excellent student, and my parents firmly believed that law school was the ticket to a secure, financially dependable life. I have a feeling they were correct, but I guess secure financial independence was not my ultimate dream. I was motivated more by a desire to connect with people and to feel that my life had meaning. I had always loved drawing and painting, so I devoted myself to becoming the best artist that I could be. My work is very much about finding hope and silver linings, and, in by painting this way, I hope to share a little light with others.
2. Please explain encaustic artist for those who don’t know the term.
Encaustic is a process of painting with pigmented beeswax. The paint itself comes in hard squares or pots of colored wax that liquifies once melted. So, it is basically a means of painting with hot colored wax! I love the medium because wax is both painterly and sculptural (you can carve and scratch into it to add textures, lines and other details).
3. What inspires your work?
I’m always inspired by my feelings. Since I was a child, drawing has been a form of comfort for me. As a child, I would sit at the kitchen table with my pencils and watercolors when I was having a bad day and inevitably find my spirits lifted in by the creative process. It was also wonderful to emerge, after painting, with a pretty picture that I could hang on my wall or share with my mom. This always made both of us smile. Now, as a professional artist, I find myself going through the same process. The topics are often more complicated and sometimes even political, but the sense of laying down my emotions in paint is still the same.
4. What change to do wish to see in the world?
Where do I start? I could really go on forever here, but most importantly, I think human being need to work as a species toward sustainability. Climate change is a clear and present danger, and we need to reduce our carbon footprints if we hope to survive. I would love to live in a solar-powered world without private vehicles. Imagine how much fun it would be to walk or bike everywhere!
5. Tell us your favorite way to use your Story cards. Do you have a particular reading you like to use?
I like to use my “Story” reading – it’s a variation on the classic Celtic Cross spread in Tarot. There are 6 cards, with the first card as the main character, the “covering” card as the conflict and the cards moving around clockwise as past, present, future and resolution of the conflict.
6. Can intuition be honed? How has accessing your own intuition helped you personally? How does intuition assist you in the creative process?
I love this question and definitely believe that intuition can be honed. What I’ve come to understand about intuition is that it is directly related to experience. So, the more you practice a craft – be it cooking, rock-climbing, art or anything else – the sharper your intuition becomes relative to that craft. In many ways I think intuition is the sum total of our experience as it is stored in our subconscious as well as conscious mind. And what we store subconsciously can be very, very valid. I rely a lot on my intuitive process as an artist — especially when choosing colors. If I sit down with a color-mixing chart and try to find harmonies, I tend to feel overwhelmed and closed off to the whole experience. But if I allow myself to be drawn to colors intuitively, something unfolds within and the process becomes more joyous (and prettier!).
7. Your creations include oracles, stencils and paintings. Do you have a favorite thing to create? If so what is it about that process that you like?
I love creating my original encaustic paintings — it is the 3d element of this work that really appeals to me. I love not only painting in color but actually carving lines and tiny details into the wax using a metal stylus. Such a joy!
8.You write that you have had “legitimate” professions including scholar, teacher and PR professional. Did you have a favorite? Is there anything you miss having a “legitimate” job? What do you love most about being a full-time artist?
I think the only thing I miss about having a “legitimate” profession are the friendships I made in the office. As a full-time artist, I spend most of my time alone in my studio, and I as much as I love this, I do miss laughing and having fun with officemates! My favorite thing about being a full-time artist is the gift of being able to spend my time being creative as much as possible. I’m also a business owner, so I spend quite a bit of time doing administrative, marketing, packing and shipping, but the creative work makes it all worthwhile.
9. Do you use other forms of divination, such as Tarot or numerology? Do you have a favorite card in your Story Oracle deck? If so, what draws you to it?
I have never tried numerology, but I have been reading the Tarot for over 20 years. I used to do readings for all of our holiday parties in my various art galleries. I loved connecting with people this way, and it was a lot easier than standing around talking about my artwork! I decided a few years ago to create my own deck so that I could bring my love of the tarot, story and painting together. Yes, I do have a favorite card in my Story Cards deck! It’s the Serendipity card. I love the colors, and it always means that a lucky surprise is on its way!
10. Do you have any advice for folks interested in divination? Which books or authors would you suggest for beginner readers? Which books or authors do you feel influenced you?
For those who are just starting out with divination, I would say it’s a great idea to purchase a deck that you feel drawn to and use it to practice giving readings to yourself. Then branch out to family and friends. If you are an artist, too, you can try creating your own oracle deck with me in my online class!! 🙂 The most important thing, though, is to trust yourself and the stories as they are revealed to you. Go slowly and build up your confidence. Some of my favorite books are Finding Your Spirit Animal by David Carson, a classic Tarot book called A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray and The Book of Symbols edited by Ami Ronnberg.
11. What would you like people to know about you and/or your work?