Cheri Christensen

The shape of light

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - CHERI CHRISTENSEN For a di­rect link to the ex­hibit­ing gallery go to www.west­ernart­col­lec­

Hav­ing grown up around ranches in ru­ral Wash­ing­ton state, Cheri Christensen has an in­nate un­der­stand­ing of farm an­i­mals. These crea­tures have be­come the pri­mary sub­ject mat­ter for her im­pres­sion­is­tic paint­ings, but the works them­selves are guided by the over­all com­po­si­tions. “What I re­ally paint is light and shadow,” she elab­o­rates.

This at­ten­tion to tech­ni­cal el­e­ments has al­lowed Christensen to hone in on the shapes, edges and color. She also is able to ex­per­i­ment with paint­ing ev­ery­day street scenes and restau­rant set­tings that cap­ture mo­ments in time. Her up­com­ing solo ex­hi­bi­tion at Mclarry Fine Art in Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, ti­tled The Shape of Light, will fea­ture ap­prox­i­mately 20 paint­ings span­ning the three sub­jects. She says, “I wanted to keep the show a lit­tle more open than I nor­mally do to al­low my­self to play and do lit­tle things.”

Among the works in the show is Spring Awak­en­ing, which de­picts two chicks the artist pho­tographed on a small farm. Be­hind the chicks are flow­ers that be­came more ab­stract as Christensen painted be­cause she thought they com­peted too much with her fo­cal points. Christensen says, “It’s my nor­mal sub­ject mat­ter, but I’m try­ing to push things— where to have lost edges hap­pen­ing and where to keep it sharp.”

Napoleon Struts, of a rooster named Napoleon, was painted for a demon­stra­tion class in Fred­er­icks­burg, Texas. It was com­pleted in Christensen’s stu­dio where she added more con­trolled light shin­ing through to the com­po­si­tion. “The pho­to­graph was re­ally dap­pled with light ev­ery­where and way too jumpy,” she says. “My idea of this one was to sim­plify the big shapes and make it less jumpy and bring your eye around with them.” In an­other work, Sun­down on Ranch Road, Christensen con­cen­trates on “that time of night when the light just dances along forms or grass.” She ex­plains that as an artist, half of her job is find­ing scenes while driv­ing through Texas, where the an­i­mals can ap­pear in the right light at any mo­ment. “When this guy came out, I was thrilled,” she says of the scene. “I was so ex­cited that I took tons of pic­tures of him. I love it when they turn to look at you. They seem at peace in the mo­ment and like they’re say­ing, ‘Hey, what are you do­ing here?’”

The Shape of Light will be on view at the gallery July 20 through Au­gust 3.

Spring Awak­en­ing, oil on board, 8 x 10"

Napoleon Struts, oil on board, 12 x 12"

Sun­down on Ranch Road, oil on board, 8 x 6"

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