Today’s Spotlight is Cheryl Mathieson, a mult-talented artist living in Washington State and current President of the Northwest Oil Painters Guild.
Jump Ahead To:
Cheryl has a degree in Fine Art and a Masters in Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University. She used her skills as an artist and therapist to assist clients recovering from trauma and in family counselling. That career was both challenging and rewarding, but her heart was always in oil painting.
After working in the commercial art field for a number of years she returned to college and got a masters degree in art therapy. She worked as a therapist and counselor in California, often working with adults and children coping with a variety of traumas. It was draining and rewarding work.
I was curious how art creation worked with healing. Cheryl said “Kids open up talking about the picture that they have created. It is often a cathartic experience, and a portal to facilitate healing.”
After moving to Washington for a job for her husband, she left the world of art therapy and focused on raising her children and homemaking. While attending Harvest Community Church in Camas, Washington, she was asked to paint an 8 foot x 70 ft mural for the church. She worked on it in the early morning hours before her husband went to work and on weekends when he could watch their children. Using latex house paint, it took over 1 1/2 years to complete, but the result was a resounding success, gaining local attention in newspapers and on television.
This led to additional projects painting murals and artwork for another local church and fine tuning her skills in acrylics.
As her children grew, she was able to return to her love of painting, first by painting at her kitchen table. Needing additional space, the livingroom was converted into an additional studio, taking advantage of windows and inspirational views.
A painting trip to Italy introduced her to painting outside (plein air) using a portable easel. Discovering that acrylics dried too quickly for ala prima application (wet into wet paint), she transitioned to oil paint. She has not looked back, jumping into full time use of oil paint as her preferred medium.
Currently, her passion is painting a la prima outdoors in the drier months of the Pacific Northwest.
“Bringing the viewer into emotional resonance with a particular place is my focus.”
Living in the Northwest creates challenges during the often rainy weather. During those months, Cheryl creates beautiful still life paintings in her studio along with larger landscape paintings inspired by her plein air paintings.
Cheryl’s love for her creator and for his work is evident in her paintings.
“Painting for the glory of my Creator and musing on His creation has always brought significance and meaning to my work.”
Cheryl loves flowers and the colors of outdoor landscapes. For a still life composition, she will often start with a bouquet of flowers and gather interesting objects that will enhance and complement the flowers with the goal of adding a story to the overall painting.
Here is a video of her process!
When weather permits, she much prefers the immediacy and delight of painting plein air.
Portraits are a growing favorite subject as well. This artist can do it all!
With the advent of Covid, online classes from world famous art schools and studios are available to anyone around the globe. Cheryl currently takes a weekly class from the Art Students League in New York City from modern master oil painter Gregg Kreutz.
She has learned from local masters as well, taking classes from Thomas Jefferson Kitts, Robin Damore and Jennifer Diehl.
Advice For Artists Starting Out
Cheryl advises taking lessons either in person or online from excellent artists whom you admire. “Paint a lot of little studies, preferably from life. I enter 30 day challenges twice a year and my skills improve each time!”
(You can find 30 day challenges via a google search or from various art groups online).
For Cheryl, the goal is not to be driven by selling her art. Rather, her goals are to continue to expand her skills and focus on getting better and better.
Find Her Work
I’m looking forward to seeing more of Cheryl’s work online!
You can find Cheryl’s work on her website cherylmathieson.com
and at the yearly gallery show of the Northwest Oil Painters Guild. Their next group show will be at The Cave Gallery in downtown Vancouver in July.
Follow her on her instagram @mathiesoncheryl
Cheryl is also a participating artist in the annual Clark County Open Studios Tours, taking place Novemeber 6 and 7 where you can meet her in her studio and buy her latest paintings.