Nerding Out on Cool Things – Memory Games

In September of 2013, I was in a group show in Berlin, Germany called “We Love 8 Bit”.  Here is the link. click me I had been doing 8 bit technology paintings since the beginning of 2012 and was know for it and they heard about me from a gallery in Los Angeles aptly called Iam8bit.  For the Berlin show, I painted a bunch of hand held video games.  One of the handheld games I painted was the Touch Me from Atari.  This painting I painted more impasto than I normally do.  It’s kinda a crazy piece for me.  It sold to a really cool collector and vintage gaming enthusiast there who commissioned me two more paintings.
It’s questionable that this can be considered “8 bit”  because the term 8 bit can refer to the amount of memory (bit a.k.a byte) needed for color and this is just a light flashing game, but term 8 bit is more commonly refered to the years that it came out in the video gaming world.  8 bit being the most early and it’s by the brand Atari, so I got away with it.  The Atari Touch Me was created as an Arcade game in 1974 and then as a handheld game in 1978.  It is a sequencing game where the game’s colored buttons light up and you have to memorize the sequence and play it back to it correctly.

Atari_Touchme_handheld lg

When I first came to Navasota, Donny Hall came to the house to make a video of us residents.  We all became fast friends with him and he has helped us feel very welcome here.  The second week, I was honored to be able to photograph some of his electronic collection.  It was mostly consisting of epic boomboxes, but also contained a handheld Simon, The Pocket Simon.  This was the first painting I completed in my residency.  The original Simon was created by Ralph H. Baer who in 1976 (or in 1977 depending on your source) saw the Atari Touch Me in the Arcade and saw it’s potential as a handheld videogame and thought he could make the design of the game more appealing. The prototype built by Baer contained a Texas Instruments TMS 1000 microprocessor chip!  Go Texas Instruments! The Simon came out it 1978.  Milton Bradley acquired and re-released the Simon and variations of the Simon including the Pocket Simon in 1980.

The Simon Wikipedia is pretty harsh on the Handheld Atari Touch Me and calls it a clone of the Simon.  Some say Atari was just slow to put it out as a handheld.  Is whoever wrote the Simon Wiki biased? Who really cloned who?


Right before I left to come to this residency a friend of mine in Los Angeles lent me an Einstein, which is a undebatable clone of the Simon. It was put out by a Canadian company called Castle Toys in 1979. I photographed it 2 days before I left, so when I saw Donny’s pocket simon, I knew it was meant to be and I had to paint it next and I did.

The Pocket Simon and the Einstein Painting are for sale and on view at the Parker Astin Art center in Downtown Bryan, TX. Open Tues-Sat 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
216 N Bryan Ave, Bryan, TX 77803
(979) 822-0496

Afterthought – in 1984 Hasbro (then the nation’s sixth-best-selling toymaker) acquired Milton Bradley (then the nation’s fifth bestselling toymaker).  Hasbro acquired Atari 1998.  So now they are on the same side.


Texas Reds Fest Sneak Peak

Some of you may know that Lisa, Mick and I will be showing our art at the Texas Reds Festival this weekend in downtown Bryan.  But, did you know that we each have our own tent?  Yes, 10 ft x 10 ft packed full of our art.  Still…. there’s more!  We will be demonstrating our art during the festival.  Yup that’s right see three artists in action.  It’s free! Texas Reds Website

We are coming to your town, so please come meet us halfway and come to our tents and say hello! What’s that you say? What you don’t like crowds?  Well, no worry because we will be there from 10 a.m. tomorrow Saturday September 27th to 10 pm at night And from Noon to 5 on Sunday.  So come Early and escape the crowds! Heck come at 10:01 a.m.!  We’ll be ready.  Beat the rush of our fans and who knows you might be the new owner of an epic piece of art. Maybe like this 17″x13″ oil painting I completed last week.  I was pretty inspired by the heart of Texas when I painted it.  Also I was having fun.  Hope you can tell.  See you this weekend~ Catherine


Brazos Art Classes

I started teaching a weekly Monday class for 6-8 years olds last week.  Registration is still open until next week!

The first class I wanted to get to know the students while I could see how they were able to follow direction and their ability to “See”.   Instead of just having them copy different shapes like a test, after a brief showing of examples, I had them create their own Hand Henna design with paisley, scroll like vines, a something sort of like a monochromatic rainbow.  We discussed repetition in design and symbols/symbolic shapes.  I let them decide on other shapes to fill the space after a large flower motif in the centre of the hand.  Lastly we traced our own hands in the wrist, drew a circle in that hand and in the circle we each wrote down a word that means something to ourselves and discussed that.  I wrote “Communication”.  We had a free for all in filling in that hand and realized how much quicker it was to fill a small space verses a larger scale.  Their cute hands look so tiny on the wrist compared to the giant hands, don’t they?  Below are some of my student’s work from the first class.

Class1_Henna Class1_henna2

During the class, I also asked them to name any artists they have heard of and we listed of the artist style of the artist.  I was blown away by their ability and passion for art.  During this class, I hope to teach them more about seeing with exercises that will teach them light and dark values, color theory, and depth using perspective and shading.  We will also have crafty projects to mix things up.  Craft is a great way to learn hand eye coordination.   We will also discover and learn about a few artists and movements like Seurat and pointillism.  Mostly I want my students to have a great fun and relaxing experience creating after a long Monday at school and keep them excited about art.

Classes have been extended by 2 weeks, so if your child still wants to join our after school class they will still get 12 weeks of classes.  Registration can be done in-person of over the phone! Call (979) 696-2787 during our hours of operation to complete your registration over the phone. Please email our Programs Manager, Molly Wallace, at with questions! Here is the website

SUPERSAMPLE – A group show in the Netherlands

I was in a group exhibition this weekend at the Beeld en Geluid in Hilversum, Netherlands.  “Super Sample” or otherwise called the “Retro Game Experience”.  September 12-14th to be exact.  The Beeld en Guluid (Sound and Vision) is a museum in the Netherlands Institute.  Oliver Knagge was one of the main organizers.  He came across my work exactly a year ago in Berlin for the “We Love 8 Bit” group show at the beautiful Old Karl Marx Buchhandlug (Library) by the Von Pirpenstein Project.  Oliver’s passion of vintage gaming has led him to put together this amazing show of some of his favorite 8 bit art and create an old time arcade plus much more.  Visit the website by clicking this link to see more photos and to brush up on your Dutch.  Below is the image of the poster and one of my pieces in the show.  Also, this show will be touring across Europe in 2015 to many major cities.  I am very curious as to who won the Pac Man competition!

SUPERSAMPLE-Posterartwork Atari800

I love old games.  I remember feeling overwhelmed with games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter came out.  The combinations to memorize and strategize ruined the brain numbing fun that one button and a joy stick provided.  Many of those early games were almost pointless or one had lost the directions and didn’t know if there was an ending to it.  The lack of competition and or a finish line in a way made them screens for meditation.  Those 3 sickly colored games on my IBM like Prince of Persia, Family Feud, or Where in the World is Carmen San Diego will always be in my heart.  You will see a few more paintings along this theme during my residency as it is one that I like to go back to when I come across a new and exciting subject.  Many artists like me feel like they are preserving a piece of history.  When I paint objects along a specific genre I also feel like I am cataloguing it once the painting is complete.  Very much like an entomologist (insect collector) or a librarian with a new book.  I will be working a few themes during my residency.  I hope you enjoy them!