Catherine Rayner artist at the Aubrey Art Gallery

The Aubrey Art Gallery

Catherine Rayner

Catherine Rayner employs the use of subtle colour and tone whilst playing with scale, composition and open space to create paintings and silk-screen prints of animals.

Her creatures are brought to life using spontaneous and vivacious line that explores movement and personality. With effortless flow Catherine's artwork conveys the natural habitat and beauty of creatures many of us take for granted. Facial expressions illustrate curiosity whilst the animals' postures suggest that they have simply strayed into the frame and might just as easily leave it again.

The space Catherine allows her subjects to exist in provides a powerful and sometimes poignant backdrop. Primarily it offers an uninterrupted view of the subject's carefully studied form. Perhaps more importantly however, it asks of the viewer that they use their own intuition, prompting them to contemplate what lies both within and beyond the frame. In effect, this space acts as an imaginative springboard that invites the viewer into the image to explore it for themselves.

A gallery filled with Catherine's silk-screen prints acts like an open-ended storybook. Each image is a new page and in each we encounter a new and different character, the events of whose life we are invited to consider. Catherine's experience as a children's book illustrator has heightened not only her awareness but also her fascination with the design aspect of each artwork.

When creating a children's book the layout of each page must be carefully considered: how one image follows on from another, where the text fits, and precisely how much visual information a child needs in order to fill in the 'blanks' for themselves. In this respect it is just as important to consider which parts of the page to leave empty as it is to decide which parts are to be filled. Catherine's use of surrounding space becomes seminal to her depiction of the animal itself, encouraging in the reader a more thorough understanding of movement, texture, and mood without unnecessary distraction.

This doesn't mean to say that background is never apparent in Catherine's picture book work. On the contrary, she will often employ a carefully positioned strand of meadow grass, or a suspended leaf, or subtly suggest a pair of receding footprints in order to give just the right amount of understanding of the creature and its habitat. Added to this, Catherine's considered use of colour, weight of line and texture helps the animal to 'live' within each image.