Capturing a sense of place
This story was featured in the June 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Spring and summer 2014 is a busy time for Colorado landscape painter Cheryl St. John. In April her painting ACRES OF SUNFLOWERS was on view in San Antonio, TX, at Greenhouse Fine Art’s annual juried show, Salon International. In May the Governor’s Art Show in Loveland, CO, featured five of St. John’s paintings. In June and July the artist is participating in three different plein-air events in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain area.
The road that led St. John to this happily busy time has had a few detours along the way. After graduating from high school, she attended Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver, where she studied fine art and commercial art. At the time she was supporting herself and paying tuition costs, so she chose to pursue the commercial art route for practical reasons. But after starting her own successful design firm, she eventually enrolled in painting classes at the Art Students League of Denver with Dennis Pendleton and Doug Dawson. It wasn’t long before she began selling her landscape paintings at art festivals and galleries, and her graphic-design career was history by 1998.
Today St. John is a full-time fine artist who describes her work as impressionistic. She relishes trying different applications of paint—thick and thin, with both brushes and palette knives. Painting on location has helped her loosen her style, work faster, and not obsess too much over details. Plein-air painting also forces her to simplify a scene and to get the colors, color temperatures, and values correct, she says.
Whether she is painting on location or in the studio, the landscape artist says her goal is to evoke a sense of place. “I want viewers to know what I’m feeling at the time—a cool breeze at my back, a warm sunrise, or just the serenity I’m feeling standing on the edge of a meandering stream,” St. John says. “Many of my collectors tell me that the reason they love my work is that it gives them a sense of well-being and takes them on the same journey I was on to find these amazing places.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the June 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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