Using broad brush strokes and savvy color combinations, Cory McBee has a way of capturing movement that is linear yet soft. The blurred lines in her abstracts and landscapes draw you into each painting, searching for where one story ends and the other begins.
A Charleston, SC gal, Cory is grounded, focused, and ambitious in all the right ways. Balancing her time between teaching and creating, Cory always puts family first, cherishing the unfolding joy of each moment. Whether it is playing in a rare Charleston snow or painting with her daughter by her side in her home studio, Cory is a dedicated mom and her daughter is life’s guiding light.
Cory is insightful and rooted in her craft. She has a deep love for art and appreciation for uninhibited exploration. Art has been an important part of Cory’s life since childhood. However, Cory did not pursue a career in art until well into adulthood. Stepping away from a job as a graphic designer seemed like a risky decision but a necessary one – an opportunity to till her inner craft, a ripening of her true spirit.
Each piece that Cory creates is a raw expression of who she is, what she has experienced and how she sees the world. Inspired by mid-century abstract styles and coastal landscapes, Cory pays close attention to the artists who have come before her, noticing how their expression marks her mind and soul. “With influences ranging from Curtis Jeré, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and contemporary masters, I uncover the beauty in the evolution of the object, place, and idea. The search of how to find myself is ever evolving and takes a transcendent journey through color, pattern, and form”, explains Cory.
Carving out time to paint at night and on weekends, Cory begins each piece with color research. Using daily experiences in nature or a glimpse of the setting sun, Cory teases out the richness of these color combinations. She plays with the palettes, testing them in smaller paper works before building larger pieces. These exercises of exploration expose Cory to new perspectives that bring forward the concepts forming in her imagination.
The search, as Cory describes it, is ever-present in her work. Moving the paint expertly across the canvas is parallel to the chaos of life. Fast movements married with fine lines are practiced but not perfect. Each stroke an evolution of her artistic style. Cory lives with each piece she creates, taking time honor the outcome and breathe into the journey of self-discovery.
Whether in color studies or tackling a new subject matter, Cory always challenges herself to push personal boundaries. Motivated by the feeling of proving herself to herself motivates Cory to keep at it – even when self-doubt knocks loudly at the door. Cory is brave and strong enough to shut down the fear, dismissing its power in favor of living her creative life.
Take a minute to learn more about Cory McBee.
When did your art journey start?
I have been a creative all my life, however, my first real memories of being an “artist” were in middle school. It was then I had the opportunity to take art as an elective and had many pieces published, chosen for awards, etc. The journey continued through high school as an art major and then at the College of Charleston where I majored in Drawing and Painting, graduating with a BA in Fine Art.
How has your work evolved over the past several years?
After I graduated from College in 2000 I jumped right into the world of graphic design, working as a professional designer while earning my MFA in Graphic Design. I didn’t pick up a paintbrush again until the summer of 2015. Once I began painting again, my first few pieces were very realistic truing back to what I had always done and what I knew. After some time I slowly began to push my work to be more abstract and contemporary. The abstraction was challenging and something I had always wanted to do. And even now each with each piece my work evolves. It is very different, but yet similar from where I began.
Do you collect art?
I am a huge collector. That is actually what lead me back into painting again after 15 years. I was so inspired by the works I was buying that I wanted to create my own. My favorite piece is by the Russian artist, Slava. Currently, he lives and works out of Greenville, SC.
Right now, I am commissioning a self-portrait by Chambers Austelle for my 40th birthday. I have always loved her work and as a collector I think having a piece of hers but with my face is amazing! I struggled with feeling it might a bit vain, but said: “fuck it!”
If you had an extra $1000 to spend on anything, how would you use it?
Right now, taxes. I know I am going to get hit this year. That is my biggest struggle and stress, I hate managing the money. Ask me after April and I would probably say a vacation.
When you are creatively stuck, what do you do?
I dance it out! I put on my headphones, work out or dance. It is amazing the clarity that music brings.
What's your advice to someone who wants to create art for themselves?
Be bold and be brave. Be patient and calm. Understand and define your version of success and don’t compare yourself to others. Each person’s version of success is different. And how you accomplish that is different, don’t compare and don’t judge. Find you own, unique, original voice.