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How Art Saved Me • by Catherine Zacchino

Catherine Zacchino Growing Up in an Art-Filled Home
I grew up in a home that allowed me to be creative, inside and outside. I could paint inside and make mud pies outside. There was never any issue about being too messy. My dad drew, painted, and sculpted, but not for a living. He always made space for a studio no matter where we lived. I loved his art space and he was always generous with his art supplies and let me work alongside him. A lot of children only have access to crayons or children’s watercolors growing up, but I got to use artists’ clay and oil paints! I still remember the scent of turpentine in my dad’s studio and it brings back good memories. My mom was creative in other ways, like baking and gardening, and I have fond memories of helping her bake and grow things.

Looking for a Fulfilling Career
So growing up I always created but never thought about making art for a living. In fact I didn’t have too much direction or confidence and didn’t pursue a profession. I just kinda’ floated, and I was not in a fulfilling job that made me want to wake up every day and shout, “Hurray, it’s a new day!”

By my late twenties I knew I had to try something other than what I was doing. I wanted a fun creative job, but didn’t really know what. I drew, painted, and collaged in small amounts but it didn’t feel like it was something I could make a living at. I believed to be an artist you had to be trained.

I decided to pursue a pastry chef career. I liked to bake and I thought this could be a fun and creative job. I had recently just got married and my husband and I decided we would move to Portland, go to school, and work towards careers in food. We were still living in a small southern Oregon town saving our pennies when I found out I was pregnant. So we decided to put off that dream. I had always planned on being a stay-at- home mom and besides, all of our family was in southern Oregon.

Finding a Creative Outlet
I now have two daughters, ages 8 and 11. It was when the youngest was 1 year old that I began to realize I needed an outlet, a creative outlet. Being a stay-at-home mom of two young girls was great, yes—I got to raise them. But all I had was housework to keep me busy. I felt bored and frustrated, even depressed. No matter my beautiful girls and wonderful husband, something was lacking. It was at this time I found the online creative world and moms who created and had blogs. This was a happy thing for me. It was something I could, too, from home! It was at this time as well that we had decided to leave this small town for Portland. I felt stifled in the small town. I felt like I was withering away.

Finding so many creative “regular” people on the Internet gave me hope. It was the DIY plush stuffies that caught my eye and made me want to create again! I didn’t know how to sew or use a machine but it was my yearning to create that led me to learn pretty quickly.

From this point on I didn’t stop creating and I eventually put a few of my little simple monster creatures up for sale on Etsy. It was just for fun, no plan for more than that. My monster plush started to sell and it was very encouraging and fulfilling. This only led me to continue to grow and make better dolls. I began to paint, too. I was now filled with a sense of peace.

By making art, a huge hole has been filled in me. I believe it’s because I was meant to create and now that it had found me I was no longer depressed or frustrated at daily life. Art is magic! Art makes everything seem full of possibility, limitless ... I feel very blessed at what art has done for my soul. It has also put me in a position to meet like-minded people, even now teach! Art has opened a whole new world to me, more than I could have imagined. I am so thankful, and I hope I can help others discover the same within themselves.

To learn more about Catherine Zacchino,


Hi Catherine, so glad you shared! I can relate to your story, on so many levels. I grew up with creative parents-mess was never an issue. I married neat, lol. I too thought about culinary school-but didn't end up going. Funny how art redraws our lines~ I too think of it as magic and still get excited about a new box of crayons, paper and paint. Thank you for sharing-you inspired me to continue. I do have some doubts, but my heart says otherwise~ Happy you found your way! @>----------

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