SPOTLIGHT — Meet Catalina Mills

SPOTLIGHT — Meet Catalina Mills
Our latest SPOTLIGHT is with Catalina Mills, an artist who teaches life drawing classes.

Take a look at our interview with Catalina below and learn about life drawing, the motivation for her interest in art and her plans for the future.

What’s your name and how old are you?

I’m Catalina and I’m 32

How long have you been an artist for?

I started loving art and using it as a creative outlet when I was 6/7 but didn’t fully commit to art until 2018. It’s always been something I went to for release but never a focus.

What was your favourite subject at school and why?

My favourite subject was actually P.E. growing up I loved sports but I think that’s because I was good at them and I adored the praise I would get from my parents, teachers and peers. I also loved art but that was something for me. It was a place to show and be my true self.

What made you get into teaching classes?

I went to Grammar school and in Year 10 this company came in and tested us, basically the results direct you to a career. My top ones were University Lecturer and Architect, both things I’d never dream of being. Fast forward 15 years and I’m sitting painting just letting my mind wander and I thought about what joy painting gives me and how I wish everyone had the ability and access to this ‘self therapy’. Then the next month as part of an exhibition I did, I also introduced the opportunity to take part in a life drawing class taught by myself.

We noticed that you teach life drawing, what do you think life drawing can bring out of an individual?

Something to know about me that helps explain this is that I’m a mother of three beautiful girls. All of them are unique, each one different in their appearance. I became a single mother quite early on and the stress of it all would cause me to lose a lot of weight. I was never someone who cared what I looked like physically, though if I look back to my teens I was aware I didn’t have big breasts but I had a runners bum so I was ok. With each child I birthed my body changed dramatically. It was a journey that allowed me to see how incredible my body is. To raise three humans, to feed them and to also care for me at the same time, my appreciation for my body grew.

I spoke to other people through Instagram who saw my love for myself and asked me how. I’d always tell them it’s a journey. Until one day I stood up and decided to do something to change people’s perspectives of their body and naked bodies in general and through art was the only way I knew how.

Life drawing was something that I loved doing at university, but struggled finding other places to access it outside. All bodies were normalised in these classes: old, young, big, small, smooth skin, wrinkly skin, we drew them all. By coming to the life drawing classes I’ve curated over the past 3 nearly 4 years, people have the opportunity to create art but also see art in its purest form. Us. The media and this capitalised world has over sexualised the human body so that it can sell it as a product but everyone of us is worthy of so much more and I hope my classes help those who attend to explore that for themselves.

What overall advice would you give to someone who wants to be drawn in this way?

I always ask first time models to come to the class, feel the energy and be a part of the environment. I want everyone who participates to feel safe as a priority. We also have fun and build a community in these classes which I love. Once you’ve witnessed what it’s all about and you still want to model then I am always looking for nude bodies for us to capture. I’ve had a lot of people who came to a class to draw come up to me after and ask to model. In our women only classes I give the participants a time within the class to pose for us if they feel liberated to do so. It’s such a freeing experience.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take part in a life drawing class for the first time?

You don’t need any skills or equipment, just come. Bring a friend if you feel more confident that way. Everyone should have the ability to create and express themselves. Being good isn’t a thing in life drawing.

What are you most passionate about with your job?

Seeing people happy creating, that gives me so much joy. I love art, I love painting and expressing myself. A lot of what goes on in my head I can’t express through words but painting gives me the ability to show people my heart and thoughts and that’s powerful to me, so to teach people that, that’s what I’m passionate about.

What’s your best experience teaching a class?

Seeing someone look at their work and say ‘wow, I did that’.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to expand these classes. Also, I want to create a building where people can go create and express themselves for free. It would be a place artists can work and exhibit and a community for everyone.

What would you change in the educational sector?

My children rarely do art at school so it doesn’t seem like a priority. It wasn’t when I was young either. I definitely think mindfulness and more creative outlets should be a part of every child’s education.

Outside of your artistry, what are your hobbies?

I love photography, but I do use that as an extension of my art and to inspire my painting.

Last year, in November 2020, when everything was shut down, I picked up hand poke tattooing as all the parlours were closed and I have a slight obsession with tattoos, so I decided to just learn by myself. That’s definitely grown into a passion/hobby of mine and I also tattoo others. The feeling of a hand poked tattoo is a very intimate one. I also love dancing, even if it’s off beat. It feels like freedom to me and because I don’t go to a class, some may not see you dancing alone in your house as a hobby, but it’s something I enjoy and it’s an outlet for me. That’s what makes something a hobby in the first place.

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