Artist Profile: Catherine Skowron
For a large portion of Catherine Skowron’s career, her job was to inspire and cultivate the creativity of young people. Armed with a master’s degree in education from Goddard College, she taught at Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Provincetown until her retirement in 1999. Skowron also taught in the children’s art program at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM).
This is an important chapter in her life, and it also reflects who she is. “I’m a lifetime learner, always interested in stuff and learning from other people, being curious,” she says. “And for kids, art makes it possible for them to communicate about a particular subject.” Skowron continues to teach workshops at PAAM and at the Truro Council on Aging.
Since her retirement, Skowron has made a seamless transition to full-time artist—although she would not see teaching art and making art as mutually exclusive. In her view, “Art is a parallel adventure.”
Skowron works with oils, watercolors, and white line woodblock prints. Also known as the “Provincetown print,” white line woodblock printing is a technique developed by a group of Provincetown artists in the early 20th century. Its defining feature is the use of multiple colors on one block with white lines separating the fields of color. Skowron not only continues this printmaking tradition in her own work, but she also teaches the distinctive method.
While her subjects vary, the connecting thread in Skowron’s representational painting is her love of the local scenery, be it characters, like Provincetown fishermen; buildings, such as lighthouses and beach cottages; or natural vistas. Her most repeated motif is the dune, so distinctive to the Outer Cape. “When I saw the dunes the first time, that was it for me,” she says. “It’s different every time you look at them. There’s something really restful and soothing. But they are still very connected to the larger world.”
Skowron visited Cape Cod for the first time in the late 1960s, at the end of a memorable road trip while she was still an undergrad at the State University of New York – Buffalo. “It was like magic, the minute you got onto 6A,” she recalls. “It was late afternoon, March light hitting the dunes. I fell in love.” After graduating with a degree in sociology, she returned. “I hitchhiked here with about $20 in my pocket, and that was it.” – Amanda Wastrom