Large abstract paintings may be Katherine Boxall’s lifeblood, but she’s no hippie artist. In fact, the 26-year-old Ottawa, Canada native finds freedom—and creativity—in the near-scientific precision she applies to her daily schedule. Boxall, who moved to Charlotte from San Francisco in 2018, is the new Constellation CLT artist, whose work will be on display in Mint Museum Uptown’s public spaces beginning Feb. 21.
Boxall currently splits her time between her 25-hour-a-week marketing job at Jerald Melberg Gallery and her west Charlotte studio, a haven for her work with acrylics, spray paint, pastels, and oils. While wrestling her golden retriever puppy, Sophie, out of a mud puddle, Boxall walked us through her typical Wednesday.
6:10 AM I wake up. I literally do not even get out of my bed until I’ve had two espressos with some oatmeal cream that my fiancé brings to me. We have a golden retriever puppy, Sophie, who will then come in and jump on my side of the bed. So it’s double espresso, then pet the dog.
6:30 AM My fiancé drops me off at Burn Boot Camp in Elizabeth. When people say, “enjoy your workout,” I think that’s crazy. But I do it, and it feels great. Then I walk back to our home in Elizabeth.
7:20 AM I pick up Sophie and we go on a walk around the block. Everyone wants to pet her. No one knows my name, but they all know her name. She gets catcalls from across the street. It takes us 30 minutes to go one block.
7:50 AM I have a green smoothie every morning: spinach, cucumber, avocado, banana, celery, and protein powder. I try to ensure I do all my good habits Monday to Friday because I don’t want to think about doing any good habits on the weekends. Like zero.
9 AM I get to Jerald Melberg Gallery. Technically I’m the social media manager, but we don’t do titles there—Jerald and his wife, Mary, are sticklers about that: not creating a hierarchy. Everyone is expected to be a team player. We usually gather around the coffee pot for 10 minutes. Then I go to my desk in the back and edit pictures and write copy. I have a fake Instagram account, so I can test out how certain things look. I post 10 different things and then log in as a user and see how someone would see it. No detail is too small. It’s about how you make people feel when they’re interacting with your brand.
Noon I meet with Jerald for 10 minutes before I leave to go home and feed Sophie. Then she takes me for a walk. It’s usually breakfast tacos for lunch. I’ll scramble eggs and put them in tortillas or do a cheese board with cheese, crackers, and olives. It’s not measly. The worst thing I could ever do is under-eat at lunch. It will sabotage my afternoon at the studio. I can’t think about anything when I’m hungry.
1 PM For the next hour, I sit on my couch and do business and admin stuff: answering emails, scheduling art shipments, applying for new opportunities and awards, and managing my website and social networks. Then I change my clothes. I literally wear the same raggedy Lululemon sweatpants, a vintage Nike sweatshirt and a polar fleece I’ve had since I was 11 years old. 2 PM I get to my art studio on Wilkinson Boulevard. It’s 650 square feet and perfect for what I want to do.
2:05 PM I set everything up and clean up my last session. It helps me get back in the zone. I put on a couple of playlists I’ve been listening to for years. On Spotify, it’d be categorized as “brain food”—ambient, repetitive, electronic, indie. Nothing with too many lyrics or anything that would affect my mood that much because that will affect the way I paint. I usually have two or three large, 8-feet-by-six-feet paintings in my studio at a time, and I also have small ones scattered everywhere. I use the smaller pieces to test out different colors and textures. Then when I go to the big painting, I’m super confident and it just flows. A lot of times I come at the smaller ones with such an intuitive eye that they end up being just as good or better than the big ones. So, there’s not a hierarchy between the works—it’s just my process, a way for me to say, “This is low pressure.” It’s a mind game. I don’t want to see the struggle on the large works. For me, it’s also about knowing when to stop, leaving a lot of negative space. That’s control.
3 PM I take some pictures of the work. I love putting progress pictures on my Instagram. It’s fun for people to see, and it keeps me from psyching myself out.
3:30 PM I take a break. My best artist friend calls me and we talk for an hour about painting. That really helps me feel like I’m still part of the community in California. We are in two different warehouses across the world, but we’re still collaborating and thinking about the same thing.
4 PM I take the pictures I took of my work and upload them to my computer, where I test a bunch of things in Photoshop. It helps me have even more confidence in my designs. It’s a digital sketchbook.
4:30 PM This is the moment where I decide, “Am I going to beat traffic and go home, or am I going to push it until 6:30 p.m.?” It’s usually flipping a coin. Some days I need to do more thinking and work on my computer. Some days I am completely in the zone.
7 PM I’m home and my fiancé and I make dinner. I usually marinate salmon in the morning for us to have for dinner that night. He always grills the vegetables.
8 PM I take Sophie for a walk and then try to be as lazy as possible. At night, we watch a lot of Netflix and HBO. We just finished “You.”
10:30 PM Bedtime. I’m definitely not a hippie artist—I’m a type-A artist. I think if you’re trying to take it seriously, you have to take it seriously. If you don’t treat it like your day job, it’s not your day job. It takes a lot of constant effort.
— As told to Caroline Portillo, Director of Marketing & Communications