Spotlight Artist Casey Cheuvront
Thalo loves to promote artists and each month we spotlight a member of our community!
This month we are pleased to have Casey Cheuvront as the thalo Spotlight Artist for April.
Thalo Team: Can you give an "elevator pitch" of your work?
Casey Cheuvront: I work in an impressionist/realism style, painting primarily landscapes, wildlife and “cloudscapes”, usually in the Southwest. I also paint the occasional still life. I like an intense palette, and love Ravens.
TT: What is your artwork about and what do you want people to take from it?
CC: My work is naturally informed by the things I love - by my years exploring and playing in the outdoors - hiking, mountain biking, skiing, backpacking, hang gliding. I hope to communicate some of the deep, necessary connection I feel with the wild places I care about so much. My father (an avid outdoorsman) used to say, “Land is the only thing they aren’t making any more of” and taught me to respect and cherish our wild places. I hope that comes out in the work and allows others to feel some of what I do when I am making that connection. I see so many wild places being thoughtlessly overused and desecrated – yes, that’s a strong word – these days. Seeing graffiti on boulders and trash littering trails in the wilderness is as offensive to me as it would be to see it in a church might be to others. That trail, that vista – that IS my church. Sadly, many others don’t seem to have been brought up with the same kind of connection. I’m…. trying to get through.
TT: Which artists do you feel have influenced your art the most?
CC: Oh heavens. The Masters, naturally. I grew up in a house full of art books and prints. So, early exposure to DaVinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer…. Those dramatic, often religiously inspired works. The Impressionists (of course); Monet, Manet, Renoir. Bougerous. Leighton. Parrish – those skies… I greatly admire Lipking, Cramer, Przewodek, Lyons…
TT: Do you have a preferred method of presentation for your artwork and why? (Examples: workshops, gallery shows, Instagram, etc.)
CC: I seem to do well at shorter term gallery exhibits (a month or so), sell online of course, and have done well at the occasional pop-up. Tent shows are ….grueling! I show on Facebook and Instagram as well. I love teaching, so workshops are fun for me too.
TT: Out of all of your creations (or bodies of work) which one did/do you find the most cathartic in creating?
CC: I love painting clouds, and skyscapes. I flew hang gliders for years, and I suppose I never quite lost the admiration for skies. Here in Arizona we have the most incredible skies, and see clouds in all their iterations - sunsets, monsoons, virga, billowing thunderheads, cirrus... But truth be told, I have a “thing” for all my series - clouds, yes, but I love painting trees (as if it were a portrait of the tree) and just loooove my “Midnight Kitchen” series of small paintings of fruit and veggies. Those are SO much fun. And I adore our neighborhood ravens, and paint them every chance I get.
TT: When was your “Aha!” moment that led your work to where it is now?
CC: There was no single “Aha” moment, truthfully. I wish it were that simple! Rather, it’s been a series of successive approximations to a goal. Of course, you want to paint the thing, with feeling. But first you have to know light, and how that affects color, and value, and oh yes, we need to be able to draw, and therefore must understand perspective, and distance relationships, and so on, and so forth. It never ends. It’s a spiral path, and every time you revisit some aspect of the work that takes you a little closer to the goal with some little accomplishment, there’s another “aha!” But never just one.
TT: How has your work (or technique) changed over time?
CC: I started as a sketch artist, many (many!) moons ago. I remember as a kiddo spending an entire summer drawing hands. My left hand, actually, since this was pre-internet and I was trying to work from life and getting people to hold still for me wasn’t easy! I moved into ceramics and worked on functional pottery, but also started painting. And did a bit of sculpting. I think the drawing, early and often, influenced my work. Moving to Arizona, and this fabulous light, certainly did. Early on there was an almost graphic, illustrative quality to my pieces. I did a lot of glazing, especially on the animal pieces. Now I often use a palette knife, and heavy brushwork, especially en plein air, to get the richness of application and texture I’m after.
TT: How do you promote yourself and your art?
CC: Social media, my website, a newsletter, blog, business cards, networking, shows, competitions. I belong to a ton of groups online, and I am by nature a social person. I don’t mind talking to people while I’m working, as long as I have time later to recharge.
TT: Do you have any tips or advice for fellow artists based off of your experiences thus far?
CC:Give yourself time. Be gentle with yourself. Trust your instincts. But don’t overestimate yourself, either. Realize this doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. Understand you have to feed the beast – you have to do the work. Even when you don’t feel like it, even when it’s not fun to finish the painting, even when you are not inspired. “Inspiration is for amateurs” they say. Sometimes that means just showing up at the easel and goofing around for a day, sometimes it means working hard on a composition until you get it right or going into the desert to paint and throwing away an entire day’s worth of canvas because it all stinks. You show up, like you would for any other job, and do the work. I’m not saying talent doesn’t exist, of course some folks are gifted – but, to quote a favorite author, Terry Pratchett, “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.” Do. The. Work. Do it the best you can, don’t be satisfied with less than your best. Don’t keep the crap, there’s enough crap out there. Be the BEST you can with what you were given. NEVER stop learning. Who are you, after all, to hide your divine light under a bushel? Polish that light, stoke it, make it shine!
TT: What are you working on right now and why?
CC: Ahhhh ….Let’s see. I just finished a workshop and have another coming up. I’m working on setting up a new workshop in the West valley. I need to get out a newsletter, and a blog, and Lord knows I need to clean my studio. I have a plein air piece I want to repaint in larger format in studio, and am going out at least twice more this week to paint en plein air. There’s a plein air festival this weekend, I’ll be representing there. I put out a call looking for a host studio for a local studio tour. I’ll be working on finding compositions for an upcoming OPA (Oil Painters of America) regional later this year – that will take some time, as I really want to show my best work as it’s highly competitive. And I think I committed to a triptych show, so I may have three 8 x 16s to fill, too. Oh, and there were a couple of residencies I was thinking of applying for…
TT: What would you consider to be your "biggest achievement" with your work thus far?
CC: Well, being tagged as a Grumbacher Artist Ambassador is right up there! Getting into OPA was a coup. Winning first at a recent plein air festival. Selling really, really well at last year’s show at Taliesin West was very nice. Those are all milestones… I think I can’t point to any one thing, necessarily, just a sort of cumulative uptick in sales and recognition. I feel that reflects the last couple of years’ effort; I’ve really hit it hard, studied a lot, painted almost daily, and worked very, very hard at improving.
TT: What was your first work of art that you were proud of? Where is it now?
CC: Ha! Ok, seriously, I was about 3, I think. I had somehow gotten a hold of mom’s bright red Revlon nail polish. I created the most beautiful retrospective on the living room wall (granted, rather low for the casual viewer); the critics, however, were not impressed. If the house is still standing, it’s certainly under may layers of paint by now. Hmm. More recently – my first pastel painting (it was a new medium for me) I felt like I knocked it out of the park. I painted a lake I’d been backpacking to for many years, with a friend fly-fishing in the forefront. It caught the feeling. End of day, great light, peaceful. I was there. I’ll never sell that one. I am often really happy with a finished piece, but equally happy to let it go; every now and then, though, there’s one I need to hang on to.
TT: Do you take commissions? Why or why not?
CC: Sure, if I like you. Kidding! Of course I like you! You just asked me to paint for you! No, really, I do. Hey, if it’s good enough for Michelangelo… It’s challenging, and a good test of discipline, and can make you stretch. It’s very important to communicate well, though, to be clear, have good boundaries, and good follow through. I think artists who struggle with those things, or who can only work with “inspiration” will struggle with commissions.
TT: What do you do when you aren't working on artwork (hobbies, job, etc.)?
CC: I teach workshops, private, and semi-private lessons, I’m learning to do henna art (so cool!), I work for an events company as a senior teaching artist, help manage our rental properties, and take care of my husband, who, lord knows, needs all the help he can get some days. I manage the house, and enjoy cooking, and hanging out with friends. Up until recently I was managing a little gallery at a local community center, but I left there in January.
TT: What is an area in your work that you feel weak in that you want to improve upon and how are you going to get there?
CC: I am planning on either attending a local atelier or taking online courses to strengthen my drawing skills, which need a boost (if you feel you need a lift, go back to basics, I say) and am looking for portrait courses nearby. I want to expand into portraiture; I started drawing people, it seems fitting that I end by painting them.
TT: How do you overcome art blocks?
CC: What’s that? Oh, you mean those days when you don’t feel like doing art? Like, most people don’t feel like doing their day job every single day? Look, we’re blessed, as working artists, to be able to do something that is so – well, it’s extraordinary. So, don’t be lazy. Do. The. Work. Then you can treat yourself with – I don’t know, a visit to a museum, or new brushes, or a fresh henna tattoo (my latest infatuation!) Read an art book. Talk to another artist about art. Clean your studio. Go online and stare at something inspiring. But at some point put your big girl panties on and get into the studio and DO the work!
TT: Where do you see your work taking you in the next 5-10 years?
CC: Portraiture, more animals, and some really BIG canvas. I’ll never stop painting plein air, but I want more room! ENORMOUS clouds. Ravens larger than life. Full sized portraits….
TT: Is there something that you would like to share with us that we have not covered, that pertains to you and your work?
CC: Buy some? (Lol) Well, just that I am sincerely, utterly grateful to be able to do this. I feel as if I am making up for lost time. I want to share it all. If you haven’t caught the thread, mastery is very important to me. I feel this is – art is – such a wonderful avenue to be a lifetime learner. The adventure never stops. There is always something more to learn, to know, to try…. (did I mention my painted sculpture project? No? Stay tuned…)
TT: If you have links for your website, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, etc. that you would like to share, please include these addresses below.
Facebook: Casey Cheuvront, Casey Cheuvront Ceramics and Fine Art