Catherine Young Bates was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. At Victoria College, University of Toronto, she graduated in Art and Archaeology, and was fortunate to be one of the last students of Charles Comfort before he left to become Director of the National Gallery of Canada. Other teachers were Babs Cogill Haworth and Peter Haworth. She studied painting at The Baltimore Museum of Art with Keith Martin, printmaking at The Maryland Institute, and spent a year in Oxford focusing on drawing. She completed a Masters of Education at McGill University, painting with Gentile Tondino. Her mentor in Montréal was painter Allan Harrison. She is an admirer of painters Marsden Hartley and John Marin, Philip Guston, Brice Marden, and sculptor Richard Serra. Her first formal influence was Kenneth Saltmarche, director of the Windsor Art Gallery.
Bates is known for her abstract contemporary landscapes and still life, using expressive color. Her landscapes and still life paintings are on single canvases or in sectional formats. Her large scale drawings and paintings are done both on site and in the studio, and in the past have often focused on the ancient Greek myth of Icarus and his flight over various parts of the world. Her recent paintings focus on an opulence of colour and emotion which after a long series of monochrome works, coincides with her return of her hearing, the result of a very successful cochlear implant operation in 2010.
She taught in the Fine Arts Department of Dawson College until the spring of 2002, taking intermittent self-paid leaves in order to paint. She wrote as art critic for The Montréal Star, Canadian Art, and other journals in the 1970’s, attending the opening of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam with a small group of North American art critics, including Harold Rosenberg. With Linda Shoet, she co-authored 'Drawing: a Link to Literacy', and is the author of 'Counterpane: Poems and Drawings'.
Bates served as artist in residence at the Leighton Foundation in Alberta in 1997, and the American School in Switzerland in 2001, where she also taught. She is represented in international public, corporate and private collections and was elected as a member of The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
She currently lives and works in Montréal, Québec. She is represented by Galerie d’Avignon, Montréal, QC Roberts Gallery, Toronto, ON Galerie St. Laurent and Hill, Ottawa, ON.