Artist Cheryl Anne Grace presents a charming collection of paintings inspired by her hometown of New Orleans and beyond. See more by visiting her website.
I didn’t start painting until I was in my early 20’s. I’m self-taught, constantly researching and learning from everywhere, and from several incredible artists who mentor me. In spite of my very early interest in creativity, I did not have a nurturing environment in which to pursue such things.
I grew up in South Carolina, an only child, living with my grandmother in her home along with my divorced mother. Both of them worked; neither had much time for me. My grandmother was a drapery maker and worked six days a week, at home. I spent my days playing in the huge scrap boxes under her sewing table with nothing but my imagination to entertain myself. It was a solitary childhood, but it fed my imagination.
I never lack for subjects to paint. I find inspiration everywhere I look, especially in this magical city I now call home, New Orleans. I’m always creating my next painting in my mind while I’m working on other pieces simultaneously.
My work is recognizable by my detailed style and the bold palette that I have developed over many decades. My subject matter is extremely diverse, but often I work in a series, sometimes adding to a series over years. I paint everything from architecture to landscapes and people, sometimes in a representational way and other times combined in imaginary settings. My primary challenge is perspective because I am mildly dyslexic. It can be a struggle, so at times I diverge from traditional perspective if that works for a particular piece.
I’ve experimented with subject matter since my early beginnings, focusing on what I knew, landscapes of the Southeast. I now paint stories, and the titles of my paintings are usually an integral piece of the story. Although I have refined my detailed style, my subject matter is inspired by my move to New Orleans fifteen years ago.
It has evolved to encompass magical realism, visionary imagery, and often humor, drawing on my heritage, marrying past and present, using symbolism and metaphors. My love affair with Louisiana has deepened. That is something I intend to explore in some future work, primarily the French Cajun culture of the Atchafalaya Basin.
I work exclusively in my studio, referencing multiple photos out of my vast library of my photographs as well as research images relevant to what I’m painting. I work in acrylic on canvas or smooth artist panel, sketching, then underpainting the outlines in a dark color. On ready-made stretched primed canvas, I start with several layers of gesso and sand between each layer to create a smooth surface. Acrylic paint is applied in countless thin layers with no visible brush strokes, followed by transparent glazes and finished with gloss varnish.
Moving forward, I want to paint stories I am most passionate about or amused by rather than painting what I know will sell. I want to gain broader recognition for my work and hope that pays off with collectors. Time will tell!
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