Women’s History Month Featured Artist Spotlight | Caitlin Bittner

Caitlin Bittner head shot

We are pleased to spotlight Caitlin Bittner our January Featured Artist

540Gallery will showcase Caitlin’s first ever art show | Saturday March 9th | 11-2 PM

About Caitlin Bittner 

Caitlin is a native to the Rochester area and loves the area in a way that only a local resident can.  She enjoys being a tourist in her own city, taking the time to marvel at the diverse architecture and visiting the well-known and little-known gems this lovely city has to offer.  Although she has moved away a couple of times she always comes back!  While Caitlin has always enjoyed painting, she has only begun to recently sell her art after her friends encouraged her to do so.  This series focuses on our very own Rochester logo, and has been adapted in some of the pieces.

When did you start your career as an artist?

CB: I have enjoyed painting for as long as I can remember.  I started after work and on weekends to relax and express myself. One of my friends insisted on purchasing a piece before he left, expressing how much he loved it.  That was at the end of the summer 2018 and it was then that I decided to start sharing my art with my friends and the community.

Where did you get the inspiration for your work?

CB: My recent painting inspiration began with a representation of the city logo.  I very much appreciate geometric shapes and I love Rochester dearly. After I finished the first logo painting, I found some gold leaf online and I wanted to try it out. It is a finicky medium and I have appreciated getting to understand it better and find new ways to use it in my art. Despite the challenges that metal leaf presents, I love how it looks and you can see most of my pieces now include it.I also find inspiration from our beautiful city, friends, family, music, and interactions with other people especially when the interactions are emotionally poignant.

What makes you want to be an artist?

CB: Painting has changed the way I look at everything in general.  I find inspiration in day to day life.  The way the light reflects on a counter, tree branch, or glass.  The way music sounds evokes a visual reaction from me now.  I find being a visual artist (I am sure this translates for other types of art too) inspires me to appreciate some beauty in everything that I see.  I enjoy the process of translating my visions to canvas. I love when my paintings come out just like I was thinking, and I also enjoy when a piece takes a different turn and seeing where it takes me.

For you how does art relate to wellness?

CB: I think that self expression in some way, regardless of your preference, is important for mental health and balance.  Whether it’s creating visual or audio art, or cooking or baking, dancing or sculpting, etc. I think being able to ‘let go’ of some emotions in a creative way can be quite therapeutic; to be able to practice art so regularly is a blessing.  For me I appreciate that I have a healthy way to channel different emotions, thoughts, and feelings.  It has been really neat to have a representation of some emotions I have worked through, or at least started to work through.

How do you stay healthy as a creative?

CB: Sometimes I will paint basically non stop for days when I am feeling creative and inspired, just barely stopping to eat and sleep, and other times when I am not feeling as creative or inspired I work on other things that still need to get done.  I make sure to not be too hard on myself if I am not feeling creative, I shift my focus, and try again later.  I have found yoga and stretching to be very important to my health also.  Sometimes when I get to painting for the entirety of a few days and I am not stretching I notice my neck and back are affected greatly.

What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your career?

CB: I’d say that the hardest thing is not knowing exactly when and how much I will be compensated.  The next thing is not having any structure to my schedule.  I find that both a blessing and a curse and has certainly taught me volumes about time management.  Getting enough work done each day and also making sure I am taking breaks, at least long enough to eat and get a reasonable amount of sleep has become an important part of my planning.

When you aren’t painting/drawing/photographing what are you doing?

CB: I very much enjoy time with friends and family.  I have a collection of old and new records and a refurbished family record player that I very much enjoy listening to music on.   I am very passionate about cooking and feeding others.  I love my cats, listening to podcasts, and absolutely love playing card and board games like Euchre and Backgammon.

What is it that inspires you to keep going as professional artist?

CB: I love seeing others excitement about my pieces and learning how to use a special medium like metal leaf.  I love the mental exercise of creative problem solving, and trying to put on canvas what I am seeing in my head.  I’ve noticed changes in the way I perceive the world, both visually and auditorily – for example, I can ‘see’ certain music and different sounds now.  Noticing the way my perceptions have changed and are continuing to grow is definitely exciting and inspiring.

What are you working on now?

CB: I recently started using colored wax that I am starting to melt on canvases.  I am looking forward to expanding my horizons when it comes to new mediums.  I plan on experimenting with some water colors after this exhibit also. I also plan to continue refining my skills with metal leaf.

What’s has been your best experience so far as an artist?

CB: I have enjoyed spending so much time each day being creative and playing with different colors and ideas.  I love that something I enjoy doing so much is appreciated by others; it is such a blessing to be in a place where I get to ‘play’ all day and share some bright colors and shine with others.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

CB: I think just trying to understand my style and always trying to figure out what I will be making next!  I always want to be improving.  Stepping out of my shell and then putting what I have created out for others to see is a bit nerve-wracking also.  It’s so hard to know if you are really ‘done’ and I think I am always wondering if what I am making is ‘good enough’ to share.
Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
CB: I think that since this is so new to me as a full time pursuit I am progressing at a rate which I am comfortable with.  I am absolutely looking forward to seeing what is coming next!

What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing as career in art?

CB: I would say to not be afraid.  If art is something that is a positive addition to your life and serves as inspiration for you then go for it!  Ask local shops to show your work, especially any that you frequent.  We are fortunate to be in a city that is typically very supportive of local artists.  If you don’t ask, you will never know!  Getting that first ‘yes’ is such a rush and can serve to inspire you to keep sharing!  

Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?

Any of my pieces can be turned into prints – just bear in mind that the metallics do not print as metallic, but I can add some shine back in with paint or leaf once the print is made.  Please contact me for pricing of prints.

Connect with Caitlin

Attend Caitlin’s Opening Reception

Saturday March 9th // 11am-2pm // 540WMain

Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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