Cathy Meader loves to paint in the open air—in the manner of certain schools of French impressionist painting, “pleinair” in French—coloring our Island sky with gorgeous hues in pinks and purples; our autumn trees with many shades of green, yellow, and brilliant auburns; our rocky shores speckled with greys and whites.
An accomplished artist in many methods and mediums, Cathy’s focus is on drawing and painting. For years however, Meader’s passion was stained and leaded glass work which, she believes, flowed into watercolor. “I took classes from Island artist Lorna Cornell, who was a very good influence and helped her students make connections to other Door County artists.”
Meader has also worked in oil and acrylic, studying on the Island with Rodger Bechtold. “Rodger has a tremendous loose quality,” she said, “and helped me with color—his pink skies and purple meadows are wonderful.”
But, watercolor is her favorite. “My best work,” she said, “ takes place when I plan ahead and just do it, and not rework, because I want a fresh quality. Technique is wonderful, but not too much.”
Meader grew up in Racine. Her mother, recognizing her daughter’s artistic curiosity, provided her with paper of all sorts, space to spread out, paints, pencils, and all variety of other materials to encourage creativity.
Cathy’s father was an electrical contractor who operated his own business. “I followed Dad around collecting bits of wood and pipe, glass—-anything I could get my hands on,” she said. “And his blueprints became my first sketch boards.”
Kay Dry, who taught high school art, Cathy fondly remembers as “the best and most wonderful teacher, an inspiration and mentor.” While in high school, Cathy met her future husband, Ross Meader.
Ross and Cathy attended Carthage College where she majored in art education. Now both retired, they live on the Island in the house on Foss Road that was Ross’s grandparents’ home.
After teaching children and teens for over 33 years, Meader now offers classes in drawing and painting through the Washington Island Art Association. “I like to teach people who say, ‘I can’t draw or I can’t paint,’ because I strongly believe that art is important to us all.”
By Patricia Hewitt
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