A painter and mother of three, Cara McCabe has lived in Rowayton and Darien for over a decade. Cara moved to town because she was “smitten by the water” and loves raising her girls here. Her work spans a range of painting techniques from landscape to portraiture and abstract structure.
Tell us about yourself and what brought you to town…
I was raised on an historic farm in Newburyport, Massachusetts, an idyllic New England town. For the past 11 years, I’ve lived in Rowayton and Darien. I drove through the area years ago and was smitten by the water and have fallen more in love with the area each passing season. I’ve found a wonderful environment for my children, met incredible friends and discovered inspiring art resources.
Painting is both a solace and an inspiration to me. Life has its challenges and art is a way for me to return to myself, renewed and re-grounded. I don’t strive to paint perfect paintings, to render a person exactly or paint the most realistic landscape, but rather to capture the array of human emotions that lie within the subject or are emoted by the landscape. Painting the beauty and complexity in humans and the world around us inspires me. I’m drawn to faces and the fascinating stories each one tells, both individual and collective. Water is my milieu; the scent of the ocean mixed with that of oil paint brings me home and grounds me.
I don’t really strategize or think too much about what I am going to paint beforehand but allow the paint to move through me. That’s what I love, feeling the connection to something bigger and outside myself.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages and grades?
I have three girls. I have an 11 year old in 6th grade, a 10 year old in 5th grade, and a 6 year old in 1st grade. Each has an approaching birthday. It’s going by way too quickly.
What’s your favorite family activity in town?
We love our bike rides through Darien and Rowayton, and our hikes through different parks.
How did you start to paint and how would you describe your approach?
My Aunt is an artist and that exposure from an early age was impactful. The smell of her studio, the music playing, while watching her paint with heels on, are all engrained in my mind. She’d also relate the gossip and sordid details of each artist’s life, which made it even more fun. Also, I was fortunate to transfer to a creatively-minded school in 6th grade that fostered art. What is more, all of my teachers have always been supportive. I think you know when you are doing what the Universe intends when you’re fully in the zone, time and your environment become inconsequential, and you aren’t thinking about anything else. That’s what I always loved about art. When this doesn’t happen, you know it’s time to take a break.
Are you encouraging your kids paint as well?
Yes! During our quarantine, I painted some commissions. My girls were excited to listen to music, watch me paint, and then create along with me. Our dining room transformed into a studio. Having passion and interests is integral to one’s strength and joy. I want my children to find whatever theirs is, whether it be cooking, skiing, dancing or bee keeping — whatever lights them up!
Do you have any suggestions for parents that want to nurture creativity?
I want my children to love themselves and others and practice kindness and love. I love Meryl Streep’s quote, “The moment you care about what people think is the minute you stop being yourself.” I want them to know it is ok to be different and to love and embrace themselves.
What inspires your artwork? Are there any local favorite places to paint?
I love traveling and visiting museums all over the world. Painting live models, particularly outdoors, is the best. The Silvermine Art Center and The Westport Writer’s Group are incredible resources.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
I always hear my Mom’s advice in my head. She was an incredible woman and caregiver and enjoyed her children so much! She never complained about us, but, as she’d say, she really got a “kick out of us.” With my children, I try to laugh and enjoy all of the delicious and messy moments. Not only are kids pretty amazing, but they can be incredibly funny. My mother also taught me about religion and spirituality. Believing in God, prayer and something bigger than oneself is integral to me and I think it’s resonating with my children.
How do you unwind when you need some “me time?”
Sports and music! I love running through Rowayton by the water and singing (poorly!) to my playlists.
Any words to live by?
Laugh and find humor every day, and accept your own and others’ foibles. I wish I could have told my younger self not to worry about petty things, but rather to find the humor in them. I try to surround myself with people that are able laugh at themselves and at life.
I love doing commissions and look forward to my next art show.
We love supporting local businesses. Favorite places in Darien(or near town) to…
With children: breakfast on the water at The Rowayton Market and The Rowayton Farmer’s Market on Fridays.
Without Children: Rowayton Seafood and 1020 Post.
Spend time together as a family indoors/outdoors: I love the Norwalk Aquarium, The Darien Public Library Events, Pear Tree Beach, Cherry Lawn Park, Pinkney Park, Tod’s Point and Capitol Theatre for live shows.
I treat myself with classes at CST50.
Grab coffee: NEAT in Darien.