Painter Cherilyn SunRidge creates powerful images with spiritual themes. She shares her portfolio and inspiration.
ABI: What influenced you to become an artist?
CS: Becoming an artist was a matter of flowing with the strong pulls and prompts in life, which occurred during my middle-life years. I had been creating illustrated journals, field and studio paintings, scheduled sketch days, ad hoc life drawing sessions; these activities were simply my way of living.
Working as a geological field assistant had a profound effect on my visual and emotional library; sitting, walking, sleeping in deserts and rain forests wakened me to see the spirits-of-place. This was followed by in-depth study of human energy systems—a natural fit and calling. Along with these experiences, personal painting became more potent and important as an out-pouring of my world perspective, of my innate and developed inner sight, and of a drive for giving voice to my vision.
A decade ago, my profession was teaching yoga and practicing healing bodywork therapy. I was in love with my work; nonetheless, there was an inner swell growing for a shift. I have the clear light-filled recollection of the moment Spirit pulled me up short, saying “Do what you know–paint!” The rest is history. My career flowed from healing bodywork into the visual arts.
ABI: Your art has a very spiritual element to it. Could you describe that?
CS: One cannot command spirituality, so I am happy you notice an authentic and joyous aspect in my work. I believe that Spirit is joyous and when I know those moments of Spirit in my heart and belly, I feel divinely authentic. Art only works when it is authentic.
The spiritual element comes when staying true to the “why” of a piece. My spirituality is quite Earth-based. I love this place. My shamanic healing teachings guided me to see wise, healing, even comic spirits dancing in and around everything.
Over the past several years my work has taken a deliberately centered scribe, where I delineate four sacred directions as I begin a piece. Whether the quadrants remain apparent, or get layered over, the under-painted platform of my delivery is solid–I know from where I come. Then, whatever needs to be said becomes clear to me. The Sacred Hoop of Life is the ubiquitous weaver of our days–purposeful, valuable.
ABI: What motivates and inspires you to create your body of work?
CS: Creating my body of work is paying attention to the threads of connection–series to series, canvas to canvas. Attention and awareness, in and of themselves, are deeply inspiring. Generally a poignant phrase or concept wants its “cherilyn-signature.” I find joy in following the energies of words and philosophies, and the thrill of painting takes over studio sessions.
Several years ago, I was enraptured with affirmation-statement paintings, resulting in an award-winning book of images and poetry. With my current sacred hoop motifs, the edges have softened, my palette has changed.
I had a prompt to create a series of mask paintings, as I moved from one calendar year to the next, a way of moving outside of my inside-self and back again. Now, my recent work has brought in several more masks. I am excited to include these in my forthcoming second book of images with their poems. I “aware” myself daily of where I am. Painting is paramount in this daily affirmation and discovery.