Earlier this week, Kettle Art began bringing you interviews with the six artists that make up the current “Forces of Nature” line-up.

Today, we turn the spotlight on Cheryl Baker.

Enjoy …

Cheryl Baker

Kettle – Please tell us a little about yourself (give a brief bio).
Cheryl – I grew up in a rural setting, livestock and crops included. As a kid, I spent most of my free time alone in the outdoors. When indoors, I occupied myself with drawing and reading. I developed a reputation as an artist in elementary school, drawing portraits of classmates while waiting for the school bus. After graduation from The Art Institute of Houston, I worked as a graphic designer and had a studio space at Mother Dog Studios where I painted and showed work for about two years. After moving to Dallas, I took a hiatus from painting for nearly a decade. I started showing work again in 2008.
Kettle – How long have you been pursuing the creative life?
Cheryl – I’ve always been intrigued by art and studied art history independently. I chose to pursue graphic art as a career when in high school. I find art to be one of the most fulfilling things in my life. Some things are set into motion early and gain momentum as time goes by. At seven, I wanted to be an author and illustrator. All these years later, I am still writing and painting.
Kettle – When did you first discover your creative side?
Cheryl – I believe we are all born with the desire to create. My parents supported my interest in art and supplied me with the usual basic tools for drawing. The most valuable thing they provided was their encouragement.
Kettle – Do you have formal training, or are you self taught?
Cheryl – I took lessons for painting landscapes in oil when I was a teenager. I don’t think that really counts as formal training. My education focused on commercial design, so I suppose I’m self taught when it comes to fine art.

One Accord

Acrylic on Canvas

Kettle – Could you please describe some of your latest work?

Cheryl – I’ve done a couple of pieces recently that depict rocks in water and soil. I add and subtract paint to create shapes and lines. Since I use very wet paint, I have to move fast, so planning ahead is very important. The point of the pieces is to call attention to the world beneath the surface. There is more beneath our feet than the grass we stand on. Other work I’ve done lately has been surreal in subject matter and impressionistic in style, small brushstrokes with slightly varying tones to indicate the play of light. I often include hand-written phrases that enforce the imagery.

Kettle – How did you decide on the medium with which you work?

Cheryl – There are many good things to be said in support of acrylic paint, fast-drying, rich color that is easy to use. It’s what I usually work with, though I often include pencil, ink and paper in my work. I’m interested in working with oils again, and might do so by the end of the year.

Kettle – Where did you find the inspiration for your most recent work?

Cheryl – The show “Forces of Nature” came about through conversations with all the participating artists. We knew we wanted to work on a central idea but didn’t want to be too strictly limited by the theme. Since everyone has some kind of relationship with the natural world, we thought it would be a good fit for our diverse group. For “One Accord”, the tree/man painting, I spent a lot of time examining trees and considering how they are necessary to our living planet. I wanted to illustrate an immediate, personal connection. For “Terrifying Heaven”, I wanted to draw attention to the idea of heaven as a brief moment of perfection, whether it be a flicker of light on a wave in the ocean or the brush of one knee against another during personal reflection. The “terrifying” part is the acknowledgement that all things are temporary, so pay attention. The text below the figure reads “a brief glimpse of terrifying heaven, in between wakefulness and sleep – at once enlightening and obliterating”.  For the other pieces, I credit my geologist boyfriend as inspiration. We spend a lot of time hiking, examining rocks and talking about the building blocks of the planet.

Kettle – Have you shown at Kettle Art in the past? When? What shows?

Cheryl – I’ve been fortunate to be included in two Love of Kettle shows, the Green Line show and Birds vs. Skulls and two Holiday Presence shows. They gave me space in their booth during the last Deep Ellum Art Walk, too.

Kettle – Why do you continue to show at Kettle? What is it about Kettle that keeps you coming back to display your work?

Cheryl – Kettle has been a great place for me, very open and inclusive, and has given me the moral support that every artist needs from time to time. I’d been to several openings there before I ever spoke to Frank, I was very shy.


Acrylic on Canvas

Kettle – What most intrigues you about your latest show at Kettle Art? Why?

Cheryl – I find it very interesting to see work by six different artists, who happen to all be women, with their own interpretations of the natural theme. It’s great to see the differences in technique and subject matter. I feel that it is a very vibrant collection of work! Plus, I got to know the individual artists in a way that I wouldn’t have, otherwise.

Kettle – How did you approach the work you created for this exhibit?

Cheryl – It was important to me to do each piece with intent. I created work that holds meaning for me, in hopes that others will find meaning as well. To have something new, from my mind and hand, that someone else might find amusing, thought-provoking and appealing, is a gift given and received at the same time. No line or stroke was put into place without intent.

Kettle – What do you want viewers to take away from your work at this show?

Cheryl – I’d like for everyone to walk away feeling like they have found like-minded people and that the things they think about are not too strange to risk talking about.

Kettle – Is there a particular message you are trying to convey through your work?

Cheryl – Give thought to the world around you. Think about what you touch, about where it comes from, what it’s made of. Think about the world all the way down to the core. Appreciate that we are connected to the whole world.

Terrifying Heaven

Acrylic on Canvas

Kettle – What artists have influenced your life & work? Why?

Cheryl – I love work by Matisse, Chagall, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Man Ray, O’Keeffe, Miró and Juan Muñoz. Plus, lots of local artists like Misha Flores, Richard Ross, Mark Nelson and Cathey Miller. Also, totally blown away by the work of Hatziel Flores. I told him once, “You make me start to believe that one day, if I work really hard, I might be able to paint a human ear.”

Kettle – If you could collaborate with another artist (from the past or present), who would that be & why?

Cheryl – Man Ray. He was curious and inventive and there’s something sexy about that. A boyfriend once asked, complaining, “Why do girls always like Man Ray?” My guess is, he was willing to try new things and stood by his work even when it meant he stood alone. Girls like that kind of stuff.

Kettle – Describe yourself in 5 words.

Cheryl – Determined, Diplomatic, Honest, Observant, Capable.

Kettle – What 5 words would others use to describe you?

Cheryl – Nice, Friendly, Helpful, Reliable, Courageous.

Kettle – What is next for you creatively?

Cheryl – I’m interested in doing some portraits. I’ve done a couple but I’m not satisfied with them. I can do better.

“Forces of Nature” is currently showing at Kettle Art in Deep Ellum. The show runs through mid-July. Please come by and check out the work in person. You won’t be disappointed.