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Artist's Interview with ArtistCloseUp

“An Artist is known by her brush." Cheryl paints intuitively by embracing spontaneity to allow passionate paintings to be born through a transforming layering process of acrylics and inks. Each layer informs the next story of paint. In addition to layers often you will find sand, coffee, glass beads or perhaps even a gum wrapper invoking the question of what story is being revealed. It is Cheryl’s hope that you find a connection to her work and, if only for a moment, become captivated and feel something within yourself. The art she creates are visual expressions of her inner soul, spirit and passion.

Constantly moving around the world, staying in one place no longer than three years at one time, living in the back of a musician’s studio, provided the opportunity for her to meet vast numbers of different people from all walks of life. These experiences set the canvas for the style of abstracts she creates, because these people, locations, and experiences are represented in each painting in some way. She currently lives outside of Washington D.C, and comes from a family of artists, musicians, writers and actors.


What is your background and how did you start your journey in the art world? “I am a contemporary abstract painter. After 25 years working to build two corporate businesses in the Washington DC area, I turned to my creative side. It was a passion that fulfilled an existence in me that was too powerful to ignore. This passion could only be answered by creating passionate pieces of beauty. I was once a corporate entrepreneur trapped inside a suit and heels, but this desire to express art on my canvas became too powerful. What emerged is a new language from the boardroom onto the canvas. As a self-taught artist, my teachers have been my childhood gypsy like life, the music that constantly fills my head and the spiritual peace that fills any emptiness. The event in my life that turned the corporate pen into my paint brush was the dark world of Alzheimer’s that struck my mother. I did not want to wait any longer to paint or wait for that dark world to capture me.”

What themes do you pursue? Is there an underlying message in your work? “Many pieces of my art are created as events unfold in the world. As they are happening, my art is influenced. The passion and force of these events drive my design and outcome. I have two sides of my creative soul: one uses vibrant color, extreme textural techniques, and multi-mixed media layers to show the energy in my soul. The other side is edgy, bold, and strong as you can see in my ‘Torn’ series. The influences around me have a place in my art - the political arena, the tragedies of the day, the song on the radio, or the phone call I just received. All these elements influence my art.”


What is your creative process like? "I paint intuitively by embracing spontaneity, to allow passionate paintings to be born through a transformational layering process of acrylics, inks, graphite, pencil and pastels. I paint on both canvas and paper and use both the easel and the floor to create my work. Part of my process before I begin painting is to meditate on where I am and what I am feeling, although I paint intuitively throughout. I do not merely want to capture what I am feeling, but what I am experiencing with my brushes - rather, I want to paint exactly where I am in that moment. I am more concerned with the movement of my brush on the canvas; the strokes almost overtake my moves as they create their own destiny. Many times, I use my entire body to move the brush full of paint around the canvas. I let my art direct itself without forcing the next step or color. If I feel compelled to use my fingers, I let that force happen.”

“I work hard to develop paintings that speak from my inner soul, challenging the norm, stepping outside the box. I feel the painting and the painting tells me what to do next. I know the painting is finished when the painting says it is finished; the painting has that final word when it speaks to me.”

How would you describe your work? “My work is very hybrid, because I paint intuitively, not following one style, as I am unbound in my purpose. My artworks are twofold. One, a rich mixture of color, energetic bold strokes and then incorporating this along with form and emotional texture, and secondly, a deeper, darker theme with torn canvases and neutral tones that evoke profound emotions and a freeness from within. If you look closely, you might discover a ‘found object’ like a gum wrapper, a piece of a map, or a coffee cup holder!” Which artists influence you most?

“I am deeply moved by female artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Elaine de Kooning, and Perle Fine. They are abstract painters that paved the way for me to emulate my freedom and style.”

What is an artist’s role in society and how do you see that evolving? “Art, whether visual, or other, has a critical place in contributing to the overall temperature of our well-being. I work with those who have PTSD, and have seen first hand the healing power that touching the creative side of people’s souls can bring. As an artist, I feel if I can ‘speak to someone’ with my marks, my colors, my passion I can start to connect to their soul. I feel many people have a tendency to block out emotions, and if a painting ‘speaks’ to them, they in a way heal, if only for a few moments. Perhaps only artists can make this happen!”

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