Cher’s work is bold and beautiful yet subtle and intricate. Her love of florals resonates with me, and her current work which uses thin layers of watercolour is really something special. In this conversation, Cher shares how she works, her inspiration and why she once put a vase of flowers in the oven! She’s currently exhibiting at the Manchester Art Fair where you can see her, and her work, in person. Grab a cuppa; I think you’re going to enjoy this one…
1/ For anyone who is new to your art, please can you describe your work?
My work is abstract expressionist style. I use mixed media on canvas, mainly acrylic, and at the moment I am using thin washes of paint like watercolour. My work is very emotional to me, built up on a series of really thin layers. I am enjoying exploring loose florals, gestural brushstrokes and gentle line work.
2/ Can you tell us a little more about your journey to becoming an artist?
I come from a legal background and I studied Law at the University of Leeds. It is worlds apart from my life now as a full time artist. After having children, it all started with a secret studio space hidden at the top floor of my house. It was a way for me to get to know myself again, away from all the distractions of life. I’ve not looked back since then, I love my job so much and I feel so lucky to have the time and space to create what really matters to me.
3/ Where do you find inspiration?
I resisted the temptation for a long time, but I am now delving deep into my exploration of flowers. I have always loved florals, the colours, the organic shapes, the connotations with beauty. Fresh flowers in the home bring me so much joy! Spring is my favourite time of the year.
At present the work is starting with sketches of dead tulips. I am obsessed. My husband came home to a bunch in the oven not so long ago – with me stood staring into the glass watching them wither. He thought I’d finally lost it! Im not sure what it is that I find so alluring about them? The fragile petals, the way the colours transform, the gentle lines? Ageing as a concept is of particular interest to me.
I also love sunrises and sunsets, I mean who doesn’t?! You’ll find me running to the top of the house at sunset or legging it down the hill if I am on one of my early walks, just to catch a glimpse.
4/ Which artists are you most inspired and/or influenced by?
I love the work of the female abstract expressionist painters of the 50s. Some of Helen Frankenthaler’s and Joan Mitchell’s work really hits the spot for me.
5/ Can you describe a typical day for us? Or perhaps let us know where your favourite place to work is?
A typical day always starts with movement. I enjoy early sunrise walks, runs, gym classes, gymnastics and olympic lifting. You can’t quite beat the feeling of coming back into the house after a good exercise session; and the kids coming down the stairs rubbing the sleep out of their eyes.
My painting revolves around the school day and holidays, so I try to get into the studio as early as possible after the school run. It starts with journaling, checking in with myself, my intentions and my various vases of dead flowers; and then straight on to the canvases.
Add a bit of house music or hip hop to the mix to get me in the zone, and I’m ready. People often say it sounds like there is a teenage boy up there. My studio is still on the top floor of the house – it suits the family life for now whilst the children are little.
6/ Do you ever suffer from a “creative block” and, if so, how do you deal with it?
I’ve got a couple of really big piece’s of art in my studio that I painted with my hands, they are some of the first paintings I did when I was getting back into art, so they are particularly special to me as it is a reminder of where I started. They’re so different to my style now and when I look at them it takes me right back to how I felt at the time. Pure emotion. I could never part with them.
I paint for myself, I don’t currently offer commissions and I am very set in this journey of self exploration. I am however, very grateful to all of the people that follow my journey and buy my art.
9/ Do you have any tips for people choosing artwork for their own home?
Art is such a personal thing and I am a firm believer in not following trends; instead choosing pieces that you truly love, even if they’re not “in fashion”. Trust your own taste. Look for colours that speak to you. I resisted the pinks and lilacs for a long time, but they are the colours that make my heart sing and spark joy.
10/ Where can we see and/or buy your work?
11/ What’s next?
It has been a fantastic year so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed the summer exhibitions. My next in person event will be at Manchester Art Fair 17th-19th November. So it has been lots of studio time for me, getting stuck into this body of work and floral enquiry that I am so excited about!