RRAC Mentorship program- Cheryl Barr

“Gramps” 9″x12” TomBow marker with wet brush wash

I sat down and chatted with Cheryl Barr. She is one of our watercolor mentors for this year’s mentorship program. Cheryl came from a very creative family. They were very musical and as a child Cheryl was required to take piano lessons, which she said she “detested”. She was always drawing and asked if her parents would allow her to switch from piano to drawing lessons. Her parents were very encouraging of her artistic ability so they agreed to this trade. As a child she enjoyed drawing pictures with colored pencils of people doing things. She also created paper dolls. Cheryl was always busy with her hands, sewing clothes for her dolls and herself, knitting, macrame and dabbling in all creative things. Her fellow students in school always told her she was “such an artist”, this encouraged her to continue pursuing art classes in high school. Later she majored in art at the College of Wooster in Ohio. She got married in the middle of her college education. She and her husband moved to Louisville Kentucky where she finished her college education at Bellarmine University.

“Sisters” 12″ x 16″ watercolor on 140” Arches cold press

Cheryl told me she got discouraged in college.  She was using watercolor and felt it did not work for her.  She found she liked oil paint better than acrylic, but after college she put art on the “back burner”.  In her 30’s she prayed that God would give the art back to her.  She had been doing some ink drawings of kids and making greeting cards.  Then in her mid-30’s she decided to give watercolor another try.  She found that she liked it and took some workshops.  One workshop she took was on the Gunflint trail where she learned a new approach to using watercolor and this really helped shift her watercolor work.  She told me that watercolor is her go to medium.  She finds it to be easy.  She tends to go between watercolor and oil for her paintings.  

“William the Hunter” 12″ x 16″ watercolor on 140lb Arches cold press

When I asked her what artists inspired her most she told me that in college she was really inspired by the impressionists, she loved the vitality of their paintings.  She is also inspired by modern artist Rose Edin who taught her color work and techniques.  She is inspired by local watercolorist Andy Evenson’s landscape paintings.  She is also inspired by Heidi Nelson who she took portrait painting classes from. Heidi taught Cheryl how to create skin with watercolors.  Cheryl has learned from the classes she took from these artists to enhance her own work and create her artistic voice.  She also took many classes at The Atelier Studio Program of Fine Arts in Minneapolis.  Here they focus on teaching fine draftsmanship and painting skills.  

“Deep in Thought” 9″x12″ watercolor on 140lb Arches cold press

I asked Cheryl what mediums she most enjoyed creating in, she told me watercolor and oil paints.  She does enjoys drawing as well and uses Tombell markers for quick portraits. 

Cheryl described to me her process for painting outside.  She says she must be quick.  She looks for a focal point, looking for contrast and values.   Sometimes she sketches it and other times she does brush work.  When she is working in her studio her process is to first draw out her ideas on paper. Then she traces her drawing onto her watercolor paper.  She works a section at a time with controlled washes.  She tells me that sometimes she doesn’t get to her background until the very end.  She keeps her pallet to 6 colors.  2 yellow, 2 reds and 2 blues.  With those 6 colors she can create many colors.  She likes to explore many styles in her work, she doesn’t believe that it has to be just one way to be good.  

“Cone Flowers” 9″x12” watercolor on canvas

Cheryl is also a published author “Bump on the Road:  My Husband’s recovery from Brain Injury”.  This book tells about her and her husband’s Journey after an accident that left her husband with a brain injury.  

Cheryl also enjoys creating greeting cards and each year she creates a calendar of her artwork and a scripture verse.  Her work can be found in our gallery shop for purchase.  

I enjoyed getting to know Cheryl better.  

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