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Dawt-area artist Catherine Stotesbery is always happy to finish a job.
“It’s good to take a deep breath, feel satisfied with a job completed, and then begin to look forward to the next job,” she says, as she spends an afternoon adding the finishing touches to a large mural that has taken three weeks to complete.
Featuring a vintage aviation theme, the mural is part of a larger project that incorporates several aspects of Cathie’s work. She was recently hired by former Ozark County rancher Chris Freeman and his wife, Susan, to finish the walls of several rooms in their new hangar at the Ozark Regional Airport in Midway, Ark., where the local office of their business, Freeman Holdings, is located. The sepia-toned mural, covering one wall in the main room, is the perfect complement to a variety of richly-hued finishes throughout the hangar, including waxed leather in the pilots’ room, raw silk in the entry, and verdigris lusterstone in the conference room
In her business, Imagine This Decorative Painting, Cathie specializes in a wide variety of faux finishes, which are widely used in the interior decorating market today, including very popular aged and Venetian plasters. The techniques may be applied to walls, ceiling, floors, furnishings, cabinetry and almost anything to which paint can be applied. They can completely transform a space.
“My motto is ‘No white walls!’” Cathie says with a wide smile.
Cathie and her husband, Gregg, moved to their home near Dawt in 2008, coming from Apple Valley in southern California, a place popularly known as the home of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. The high desert country they grew up in was far different from their newly adopted home of Ozark County, but the changes have been welcome ones. The two have found peace and contentment in the country, far from the faster-paced southern California lifestyle.
“My parents retired to Mtn Home, and when we visited them, we thought we might like to retire here, too,” Cathie recalls. “Then, when an injury required that Gregg have serious back surgery and he found he could no longer run our landscape business, we just decided to see if we could sell our house out there. It was surely a God-thing, because two weeks after we put it on the market, it sold. And we have never looked back!”
Cathie’s business has proved to be a portable one; she simply brought along her samples and tools and, within four days of moving into their Ozarks home, she found herself with a booth at a home show in Mtn. Home, telling prospective clients how she could transform their bare walls into works of art.
The pursuit of art has always been a part of Cathie’s life, as far back as she can remember.
“My kindergarten teacher encouraged my mother to help me develop my art,” Cathie remembers. “Gregg and I met in art class in high school, and I always thought I would go to art school. But marriage and our family, which includes four children, came first. Later, I began to take different classes, in oils and watercolor. I’ve always had a passion for watercolor and thought I would really develop that.”
About 10 years ago, a new and unexpected opportunity presented itself. As Cathie and Gregg were supporting themselves with their landscape business, a perceptive client, upon learning of Cathie’s artistic ability, asked her to paint a mural in her house. That experience was a career turning point.
“I painted a sky on a ceiling for them, and then did the walls in grapevines and a colorwash faux finish,” she says. “They loved it and began to encourage me to start a business. They also hired me to paint their insurance company’s offices, and over the course of the next five years, they kept me busy painting. As a result, others saw my work, and the business just blossomed. Soon, I had all the work I could handle. Some of my best work was in commercial spaces. I was particularly proud of a mural I painted in a very popular Italian restaurant, Mama Carpino’s in Apple Valley, which really brought my work into the public eye.”
Most of the painting Cathie has done in the Ozarks has been in the Mtn. Home area, including a very ambitious three-level mural in the home of a doctor, and another one in nearby Gamaliel that was inspired by the owner’s favorite vacation to Ireland. Participating in home shows in West Plains and Mtn. Home has been her only form of advertising. Most of her business comes via word of mouth from satisfied customers.
Gregg Stotesbery, blessed with a very good artistic eye himself, is his wife’s biggest fan and supports her in many ways. Although he can only offer a limited amount of physical help, Gregg is the source of a steady stream of encouragement.
The couple’s four children all inherited their parents’ artistic genes. Daughter Alyssa, with two children of her own, is a teacher and talented violist back in California; son Amoz is also a musician living in Utah with his young family; son Joel, now in Oregon, helped Cathie with her decorative painting for a time in California; and youngest daughter Bethany, who majored in art in college, has recently made the move from California to join her parents here. Bethany has become her mom’s “right hand girl,” helping with current projects while considering the best place to pursue a Master’s Degree.
Cathie says it is the desire of her heart to someday have time to really work on her watercolors. “The thing about living here is that you only have to look out the window to have such wonderful reference material,” she notes, glancing away from the airport mural for a moment, as the beauty of the Ozarks seems to pull the artist in her toward it. But for now she focuses on the task at hand, which is getting just the right amount of burnt umber worked into the aviator’s cap. The fellow sure bears a striking resemblance to Chris Freeman…
For more information on Imagine This Decorative Painting, contact Cathie Stotesbery at 417-521-7461.