American Art Collector
The artwork of Cheryl Elmo captures the human experience through the simplicity of everyday moments she observes, the odd little nuances of how people act, the way someone folds their hands over their lap or the little wrinkles that form near the eyes and mouth when
laughing. “It’s all about a feeling,” says the Pennsylvania-based watercolorist. Her art channels impressionist vibes, but with a modern spin. Elmo’s paintings are characterized by little dots and squares—originally the result of experimenting with using chicken wire in her artwork during college, which she calls her “puddles of color.”
“While the dots appear to be random, they are absolutely intentionally placed. Every single one. You’ll see those squares throughout my entire art career…The puddles of color were an evolution of an intentional placement of color to make the painting work so your eye starts at one end and goes around and through it, so that you’ll hopefully enjoy every part of the painting,” says Elmo.
Across all of her work, there is one central theme: human connection. “The Human Connection series has been an evolution,” she says. “Historically, I painted people. Now I’m painting the stories.”
The Storyteller is one of them. During an opening reception for an exhibition of her work at Bethlehem House Gallery in the Allentown, Pennsylvania, area, Elmo says she noticed three artists chatting and laughing. The man in the center is clearly telling an amusing story, and Elmo says the woman seated to his right really caught her attention with her John Mellencamp aesthetic. When approaching her work, Elmo draws a light sketch and thinks about what was important in the original scene. For The Storyteller, “it was the woman’s glasses, how her hair hung over her forehead. The enjoyment of these three people.” Elmo explains that her paintings take four to six weeks to complete because she patiently applies layers of color in an effort to capture some sort of emotion in her figures.
In Portrait of a Parade, Elmo was charmed by the bright rainbow of colors on the street during an anime parade. She says she loved how the boy in the hat folded his hands over his leg in an unusual way. She also decided to make the two redheaded girls on either side of him
twins, though she isn’t sure if they actually are related.
“My goal is to bring you into the story, and you tell yourself what the story is,” says Elmo.
A solo exhibition for the artist’s work will be held at CityFolk Gallery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Titled A Contemporary Approach to Watercolor, the show runs from September 6 to 28 with an opening reception on the first day.