Catherine Copeland was born on Long Island and grew up in a house that was designed and built by her parents. She spent many hours sailing small boats with her family to destinations such as Fire Island, Block Island, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Raised by an autodidact father and eclectic mother— both amateur painters— she whiled away her childhood surrounded by classical music, kitchen gardens, and paint. She was recognized early for her artistic abilities, winning the distinction of "Best Artist" in sixth grade and attending private acting lessons as her chosen prize. (Acting and film are, to this day, her second obsessions.)
Copeland studied English Literature at Stony Brook University, where she graduated with honors. After graduation, while living and bartending in Huntington, NY, she travelled to Coconut Grove, Florida to create a 30-foot mural on the interior walls of a friend's restaurant. This was her first encounter with art as a purely imaginative pursuit. She returned to study at the Huntington Fine Arts Workshop, where she found inspiration in the old waterfront building, the life drawing classes, and her teachers, Joseph and Lisa Mack.
In 1994, Copeland moved to Carol Gardens, Brooklyn, where she lived and painted on her own for two years. In 1996, she enrolled full-time in the painting and drawing program at The New York Studio School in Manhattan. There she studied with Graham Nickson, Mercedes Matter, Rosemary Beck, Bruce Gagnier, Carole Robb, Jake Berthot, Charles Cajori and Al Leslie— among others— and acquired a deep understanding of form and plasticity.
Around this time she rented a studio in Hoboken, NJ, where she met the glass blower, Eric McLendon. After painting each day, she would walk across the street to his studio and watch him work with molten glass. Watching how glass contained and delivered colored light greatly influenced how she worked with oil paint, which shares similar qualities of transparency. Today, the function of oil paint as a deliverer of light is paramount in her work.
Copeland is grateful for her lifelong partner, her husband Blair Bajraktari, who continues to be her champion and support through the vicissitudes of a creative life. They are currently raising their two children in Ridgewood, NJ.