Cheryl Pritts Interview
When did you first begin to think of yourself as an artist?
I began like many people, as sort of a hobby. I painted on wood because my husband did a lot of woodworking. We lived in Pennsylvania at that time, and I did a lot of folk art. It was then that I thought, ‘Oh, I really love color!’
After moving to Texas, I started art school with a local artist in San Marcos (Betty Ritchie). She paints in a very classic style, and I really didn’t fit in with the other students because I loved using a palette knife and pure color, unlike most classic-style painters. I don’t like to blend a lot.
I fell in love with this wonderful teacher and stayed under her tutelage. I learned about light, where the light goes in my paintings. I learned more about mixing colors. Through her eyes, I learned to appreciate different genres. She’s definitely a classically western painter. I’m definitely not. But, I do love the western palette and what I learned from her: the use of rust color and the different browns with a little of the blues and greens. And of course, my shadows have to be purple.
I became so different from everybody in my class, including the teacher, that I finally learned my own techniques. I would call myself more of a ‘colorist’, because that’s what I love. I still meet with Betty once a week and paint with her in her studio because we just have so much fun.
Who have been the people that you draw inspiration from?
One lady that really set me on my journey was Lois Griffel. I bought every one of her books and every one of her videos. I couldn’t afford to go to her workshops. But this summer, for the first time, I’m going to her workshop in Wisconsin. She is the leading lady, the Director of the New England School of Art, which is more of a school for impressionist painters. From her books and videos I learned a lot about technique with the palette knife. So, she was really the one that helped launch me into my own style.
You have really diverse subject matter. How do you decide what you want to paint at any given time?
Well, I belong to several art leagues and they have people who come to present different techniques. So, of course I think, ‘Let’s try it!’ And when I try the different techniques, it results in my putting a mix of art styles in the gallery. I’m still true to myself because I still use the palette knife most of the time. I do love different designs and different media.
My favorite subject matter, by far, are landscapes. The large paintings I do are all landscapes. I think, ‘OK let’s have fun with this painting!’ So, I guess in a way, I paint for my audience. I think about that. I go to events like pop-up art experiences, and I start ‘reading’ my audience. They’ll say, “I wish I had something for my little boy’s room or my den”. I don’t take commissions, but I listen to what they want and keep those ideas in mind. I’m a retired teacher so I try to figure out how people think and what they may want.
What did you think was important to have around you to help spark your creativity when you created your studio space?
My studio space is huge. It’s an air-conditioned barn, thanks to my son, who installed the air conditioning unit. So, I can do very large pieces in there. I can do cement in there if I want to. I can do mosaics. I can do cold wax, oil, or whatever. What makes it fun is I have different stations, tables all over the place, for different things I want to try. So, if I get tired doing one thing, I just go to a different area and do something else.
What three artists, living or dead would you like to have at a dinner party?
Van Gogh, Monet, and Alfred Sisley
What’s the weirdest or funniest thing anybody ever said to you about your work?
One time I had a painting at a show, and it was more minimalistic and the person said, “You know what, I saw that in a paint-by-number”.