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About the Artist — Cheryl Lins
About where I Live
Hello. I currently live in the village of Walton, New York. They like to say here that it is a 'Country Community'. I'm not quite sure what that means as many of the villages in this area are in the county. Be that as it may, I now live in a small two story village home with an attic and basement. The house proper is about 100 years old but was apparently upgraded back in the 1950's. Anyway, it has this thing called a thermostat and I'm really quite pleased that you can turn a knob and viola! heat magically appears. Everyone needs to have this feature in their homes.
Some people have asked why I wanted to move away from New Mexico, especially to someplace cold and miserable as upstate New York. The basic reason was that so long as I lived in New Mexico I was going to be in the yurt and I was quite finished that that experience. In addition, I really needed to be in a place where it rains which wasn't happening much where I was. Of course it has rained a lot since I left. So New Mexico is glad that I did leave. Being close to major metropolitan areas having vibrant art scenes can only benefit my art career.
How I Started Painting
I began watercolor painting in 1996. Back then I lived in Sunnyvale, California, had a good computer job, and a nice condo. But I was in the mood for something other than working all the time. Something other than computers to occupy my copious free time. I was sitting at the kitchen table, looking through a Continuing Education catalog from Foothill Community College where I saw a beginning watercolor class. I thought 'I want to do that.' So I signed up for the four Saturday class. I think that watercolor was something I had always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity. I didn't come from an artistic family. None of that 'Oh, I was born with a brush in my hand.' So painting didn't come easily, I didn't take to it like a fish in water. It was a real struggle.
When I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico beginning in early 1997, I was on my own as far as teaching myself anything about painting. I didn't even know what I wanted to paint, nor how to paint it even if I did. So I'd paint for a couple months and then give it up for four more months. By 1999 I'd gained some level of skill even though I didn't know that, but I was still lost for subject matter.
How I Discovered the Ozieri
At that time I was not really into any 'New Age' religion, but I was interested in Goddess mythologies and ancient symbolism on that theme. I was deeply impressed by the work of Marija Gimbutas in her book The Language of the Goddess. Once again I was daydreaming at the kitchen table thinking about what could be my subject matter. Epiphany! Why not combine two things that really interest me? The Goddess paintings were born.
This series lasted for about two years and at the time was a major breakthrough for me. I had discovered a subject about which I was truly passionate. Most of the paintings were large, a full sheet (22" x 30"), and I was enamored of applying lots of paint with a bristle brush call the 'Skipper.' Named after Maine watercolor painter William 'Skip' Lawrence who popularized the style. What I didn't know at the time was that it wasn't my style.
Fortunately for me, they didn't sell very well. The $1,000 price tag limited the potential audience and there were few opportunities to show the work. The paintings themselves were raw, powerful and personal. Most people probably found them difficult to look upon. And after the initial 20 paintings, they became more difficult to do. In the sense that I was starting to throw out about 75% of the paintings I was attempting to paint. And the ones that got very far started to have lots and lots of reworking. The 'successful' paintings got worse and joined those in the dumpster of unsuccessful ones. I knew I had problems and something had to be done.
I began exploring the kinds of ancient imagery used as the basis for the Goddess paintings. Interestingly, a couple images in The Language of the Goddess identified the culture as the 'Ozieri' culture of Sardinia from about 3500 B.C. E. (Before Current Era). Considering that there were only about six drawings in the book specific to this culture I felt that there was something specific about this ancient people that I needed to explore. And with a modified subject, I tossed the old scrub-it-on painting technique for something more traditional. I felt I couldn't create the kinds of paintings I wanted with the tools I had. So the tools changed to Kolinsky sable rounds, sizes 6 and 10.
And now I can’t stop. Many people just love the paintings now. That's a nice added benefit, because it's not why I paint them. I have no formulas to follow. Each painting awakens under my brush. I don't know where the Ozieri are leading me, but I'm willing to follow the delightful path on which they dance.
I am currently a signature member of the International Society of Experimental Artists.
Marija Gimbutas. The Language of the Goddess. New York, NY. 1989.