A California native, Cheryl was born in Camp Roberts while her father served in the army. After his release and a couple of years living in Iowa, the family moved to the town of Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert. Her father worked on the Navy base, while her very creative mother stayed home raising their four daughters. She loved cooking and sewing for her daughters and, her father, an electrician, loved to tinker and invent ways to use found materials to better the family environment.
Cheryl loved art and admired the drawing skills of a friend in school, but couldn’t seem to capture images on paper with the same perfection. This great disappointment led her to believe an artistic life would never be hers. Embarrassed by her lack of talent, Cheryl never took an art class in high school for fear of ruining her GPA. She decided teaching English would be her goal, however, a college education would have to wait as Cheryl married right out of high school and soon became a mother to a beautiful daughter. Living in the same town, and staying home, she also started exploring the crafty aspects of a homemaker. Cheryl enjoyed working with her hands and solving problems creatively.
When her mother became interested in oil painting and started taking lessons from a local desert landscape artist, Cheryl also began exploring more artistic expressions. She found an evening class on various fiber arts techniques taught by one of the high school art teachers. The class included batik and fabric collage artwork. Cheryl and her mom took the class together. Cheryl fell in love with batik. Using various resist techniques on fabric captured her imagination. The teacher, very impressed with Cheryl’s sense of color and composition skills, began to encourage her to take art classes at the local college. Cheryl was surprised by the compliments and was embarrassed to tell her teacher that she couldn’t draw. Art classes would be out of the question. The teacher laughed! “Making art is about much more than drawing! It’s about expressing your thought and emotions and there are lots of very famous artists who make art without using drawing at all. However, if you want to learn how to draw you will. Take a drawing class and practice, because learning to draw is like learning to write your name. And it takes practice.” It was a real lesson learned and practiced.
Cheryl and her mother started drawing and painting classes in the fall, Cheryl was hooked. She continued making art through the birth of her second daughter, also taking night classes and making batik art that she sold locally in the craft fairs. When she sold her first pencil drawing and immediately got a commission for another, she then knew she wanted to be a professional artist. Continuing in the college art and design program she also took graphic design and went to work for a local graphics company developing her skills as a commercial artist as well as a fine artist.
Eventually, Cheryl and her family move to the Long Beach area where Cheryl continued her art education and worked in many creative fields including graphic design, floral design, and interior design. Cheryl started taking commissions doing watercolors of architectural interiors and building scapes for real estate brokers and developers. Amazing herself, she once painted 2 large watercolors of an entire shopping center based on perspective location sketches she made on site.
Cheryl explored many styles and mediums. Surrealism in pencil expressed her emotions, watercolor landscape and still-life captured her surroundings. She began showing more regularly at art fairs and farmer’s markets, eventually joining a cooperative gallery in Long Beach.
By this point, her family was grown and as her art flourished and grew more important in her life, her marriage fell apart. She decided to open a consignment gallery in Long Beach that showed her art and that of other local artists and fine craftsmen. She loved being part of the artistic and creative scene. These were her people and it made her feel alive and welcomed as she had never felt before.
It was here that she discovered fine art photography and met her mentor in the medium who encouraged Cheryl to explore digital photography and design in the same way she had explored other art forms, once more expanding her grasp of multiple mediums.
An economic downturn led Cheryl to close her gallery in Long Beach. Uncertain what to do next, she found encouragement from one of her sisters who lived and worked in San Francisco. Living in San Francisco was on Cheryl’s bucket list, and soon she was working as a freelance designer, starting a new life by the Bay. Cheryl immediately got involved with the art community in the city. Volunteering at a gallery, showing in hotels, restaurants, and galleries, working in several mediums including graphics, watercolor cityscapes, and her favorite pencil paintings, she also began to dabble in landscape photography in the wine country. Her life was full of art.
The financial crash of 2008 took its toll on the available work and once again Cheryl was forced to make a change. One of her sisters passed unexpectedly leaving the family home in Ridgecrest empty. Out of work for almost 2 years and not having any place to go Cheryl reluctantly moved back to the desert, a place she never wanted to return to. Here in this place of stark beauty and amazing stillness Cheryl bonded with her camera and she began exploring and capturing the local landscape. Fascinated by all of the abandoned mining towns in the area and as she had just had to abandon her own life dreams, Cheryl focused her lens on the details of these places. Intimate photographs of dreams left behind in order to find a better life. This group of images gave Cheryl enough new material to create an exhibit at Maturango Museum, a natural history and art museum focused on the high desert. The exhibit was called “Abandonment Issues” ( a video interview with Cheryl is available on the museum website, www.maturangomuseum.com). Cheryl had created a hardbound catalog for the show which was eventually published on a wider scale and sold through the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert.
As Cheryl worked to find her place in this little desert town, she continued working in commercial photography and design, exploring landscape photography and watercolor. Her pencil paintings, so far from the other work she has been doing the last few years, remained in boxes. Her muse seemed to have left her and she was no longer inspired to create these illustrated stories of emotion.
2019 was a year of major transition for Cheryl, major earthquakes, health scares and changes in the economy caused Cheryl to once more reinvent herself. A one night pop-up art show staged by an out of town artist held in an empty shopping center owned by a local artist, gave Cheryl the space to hang many of her unseen surreal pencil paintings. Taking them out of boxes and hanging them really reminded Cheryl of what her passion for art was really about. Locals were surprised at the work so different from what they knew of Cheryl. Most comments were positive and many questioned why she had stopped. Cheryl wondered the same thing. Its time to get back to the real work.
The imaginative art inspired by Georg, Cheryl’s muse, are done primarily in pencil, using a technique she developed which involves layering graphite and colored pencil. These pencil paintings began all in black and white and were related in dreams. They dealt with emotions and cultural issues. Using contemporary archetypes and an illustrative style, Cheryl weaves these stories together in layers of pencil laid down using multiple hardnesses of lead. As this style developed, others suggested she try adding color. Just clear color was too strong for the dream-like visions Cheryl wanted to create, so through trial and error, she found a colored pencil that could be layered with the graphite to soften and gray down the colors. Exploring different papers and other substrates, gave these images even more variation in texture and style. Because often the imagery develops over the course of the drawing and the entire page is covered with layers of pencil, they take time. Some of these drawings have taken up to 6 months to complete, however her collectors and followers appreciate the time and detail that is part of each piece.
“In every show, where these works have been viewed, people find their own stories within them. Often ideas or sometimes even various mythologies are related to me that have been found within my art, and I find this very gratifying.”
Cheryl has been a driving force for the arts in her community. She works with the Maturango Museum Docent program to teach art in the schools, she has taught classes at the community center and through various organizations to which she also donates time and talent, written articles on travel and landscape for local publication and her photos have been used in magazines and other publicity to promote the Indian Wells Valley. Cheryl also created a map of all the public art sites in the valley for the local tourism bureau which was published and distributed to help promote art in the community.