Hi there! I’m Cathy McDonnell, and I am so glad we have found each other! I have loved art and design for as long as I can remember. So many of my earliest memories involve the scent and feel and gorgeous colors of crayons and Play-Doh, sewing tiny scraps of fabric into doll clothes, and always always doodling designs on to paper – loving the openness of a beautifully crisp clean sheet and a wonderful pencil and brush with which to letter and draw and paint anything my heart desired. You know, those loves have never left me and have grown up and transformed slightly as they weave through the years, but they are still very much rooted into the foundation of my life.
I grew up and still live on the North Shore of Boston and have loved forever being near the ocean – walking its sands, climbing its rocks whether in Maine’s Acadia Park or Gloucester’s Wingaersheek Beach, and exploring some of the castles perched on cliffs overlooking its limitlessness.
The beautiful architecture and landscape of this part of the country – the quaint 17th-19th century colonial homes and farms and rambling stone walls and windy, hilly, pine and oak and maple tree-lined roads– have always struck a deep and sentimental chord with me and would make it very hard to stray too far…
…Ah, being outside, digging in the dirt – the ditches, my father says – trying to make things grow and thrive, knowing and caring for every square inch of my yard – thriving on manual labor and wishing I could stay out longer instead of having to go in and make dinner!…and then there’s my long-standing goal to have a little farm with my own tractor and pickup truck and of course some goats and chickens and plenty of sunshine to grow flowers!
But…..if I had pursued my original intentions of architecture or landscape design or had gone to art school instead of engineering, I never would have met my remarkable husband or raised our beautiful son and daughter! And as our life chased the hectic pace like everyone’s while bringing up children, I pursued teaching and tutoring math, and designing and fabricating window treatments, and lots of other jobs to make ends meet until all of a sudden …poof!… we stopped and realized time has flown, our youngest is graduating college….and the time to breathe catches us by surprise… and I decide to take the advice I would offer to my students on the first day of school: ‘There will be times in your life when life gets so busy and complicated or difficult, and you may not be sure as to what path to follow. If this happens, look back to when you were a young boy or girl and try very hard to remember what you loved; it is what you felt and the clarity of thought at that young age that I believe best defines who you are and what you are meant to be.’
So I am very lucky at this point in my life to be able to pull together so much of what I have loved for a very long time (the idea kind of just hit me in the shower one morning!), and try my hand at a new creative business, Revolutionary Redesigns: Saving the Past. Enriching the Present. Together with this blog, I can share my love of writing, and textiles, and vintage wooden furniture, and Colonial and Federal history, and painting, and design, and color! And hopefully create something beautiful from humble beginnings. My life-long love of mathematics (I don’t think I will ever give up tutoring) will most likely come to my aid with some designs, but it will remain a quiet but steady underlying support, I promise!
It truly is limitless what can be seen from a new vantage point, and it is so important to not lose touch with what can be learned from the past. Respecting and learning from historical connections – be it a piece of literature, a cast-off piece of furniture with or without a snippet of history attached, a painting method that has been around for centuries – allow us to incorporate valuable information and aesthetics into current and future design. The notion of an end result being so much more than the sum of its parts perfectly reflects how saving the past can indeed enrich the present. Revolutionary Redesigns explores how milk paint can transform the worn-out finish of old furniture, creating cherished pieces once again; how re-discovering the beauty of historic stenciling fits in amazingly well with new-age designs; how the simplicity of a painted wooden cornice board can transform the look of a window. My goal is to explore these topics and more and strive to constantly learn, discover, and apply in order to enrich our lives and homes…and to hopefully still dig in the dirt to keep me headed toward that farm someday!!
- My Thanksgiving Thoughts to Share November 23, 2016
- Autumn Breezes & Pumpkin Washes November 16, 2016
- “Modern Flair” – Venturing Outside My Norm October 28, 2016
- It’s Not So Black and White October 17, 2016
- An Unexpected Change in Plans and Learning to Forge Ahead September 2, 2016