Kirkcaldy-based painter Catriona MacEachen’s stunning seascapes began as a ‘wee hobby’ and eventually became her life’s passion.
Depicting breath-taking, fiery sunsets and atmospheric rippling waters, she discovered peace and inspiration on St Andrews’ West Sands after suffering family tragedy aged only 21.
Thirty years on from that terrible loss, Catriona is back in St Andrews exhibiting at Sproson Gallery.
And the university town is the star of show Light and Tide: Reflections of St Andrews, featuring a collection of well-loved local scenes.
‘Moment of peace’
A self-taught artist, Catriona was always sketching and painting from a young age.
She explains: “It’s always been a passion. Towards the end of school, my art teacher suggested I do a portfolio but at that time I’d been accepted to do a degree in education. My dad and mum were teachers.
“While I was able to specialise in art on my course, I did also have this feeling of ‘what if’?
“Just before I graduated, my dad died suddenly on my 21st birthday. It was a strange time. And it made me think again about what I wanted to do.
“I did a post-graduate course at St Andrews University and then stayed on to do some research. That was when I started taking a wee wander down to the beach after finishing work for the day.
“My head was always so full of everything after my dad, and I could have this moment of peace on West Sands and look at the sky.”
And so Catriona’s special relationship with St Andrews began. She had always visited as a child, but now its beautiful setting was also bringing her solace.
She goes on: “In St Andrews, the skies and the sunrises are just phenomenal. You feel so small sitting on West Sands and you’re looking up at this ever-changing canvas. It’s just amazing.
“I spent lockdown in my studio outside St Andrews. At dawn, I would wander down to West Sands and watch the sun coming up.”
‘Just go for it’
Catriona spent many years of working in education at primary schools and nurseries across Fife. There, she was able to share her passion for art with the children.
But in 2009 she finally decided it was time to make a career as an artist.
She explains: “I was selling quite a lot and people wanted to buy them. It wasn’t till 2009 that I thought ‘I could either keep doing this as a wee hobby or I can just go for it’.
“So I set up a website, was painting all the time, I started getting into galleries and it all took off from there. It’s been wonderful.”
Catriona says her favourite subjects are seascapes, although she does paint other scenes too.
“For me it’s the changing elements. People ask me ‘don’t you fancy going down to the south of France to paint where there’s clear blue skies?’ But I don’t want clear blue skies.
“My art is where I am on my own and free to express myself on the canvas. It’s always a mixture of what you’re seeing and how you’re feeling.
“It even affects the palette you are using. When my mum died a couple of years ago, I was doing these after-sunsets and my sister noticed these were very dark. I wasn’t even aware of it.”
Catriona is thrilled to be exhibiting in the town where she first discovered her inspiration. She has 15 works on show at the gallery, and they are on display until August 12.
She adds: “It’s thirty years since my dad died – and thirty years since I was first inspired on West Sands.”
Visit Catriona’s website to find out more.