I only recently decided to identify myself as an “artist,” however I’ve spent my life expressing myself creatively in one medium or another. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising. My degree allowed me to put my art and creative skills to use professionally as an ad agency art director at J. Walter Thompson in New York and both Tracy-Locke and Temerlin McClain in Dallas. I created print ads and television commercials for clients including Burger King, Kodak Film, JCPenney, Taco Bell and American Airlines. I won several advertising awards for excellence including a Gold Clio from one of the most highly regarded competitions in the creative business. After a successful 13 year career, I left the advertising business to focus on my family. I have a wonderful husband who heads up an elite athlete training center and two almost-grown children—a daughter who shares my love for art and is a scenic artist apprentice in New York and a son who is a junior majoring in civil engineering, a creative endeavor in its own right. My dog, a maltipoo named Chester, brings me a lot of joy. He’s a sweetie pie with me but a stinker to strangers and other dogs! Through the years I honed my photographic skills using my family and friends as subjects. Photography, along with sewing and scrapbooking, became my creative outlets. Six years ago, I took my first painting class. Artistically, my advertising career had only required that I sketch layouts and storyboards with markers. Paint, and in particular oils, was a whole new medium! The course was a reminder that I have some inherent ability and it inspired me to continue my artistic journey. One of my first oil paintings was a portrait of a friend’s dog given to her as a birthday gift. It was enthusiastically received and I began to get many requests from others to paint their pets! It has been fun and rewarding to honor those special 4-legged members of the family. My first love is the still life, however. I enjoy taking photos of things and then using the images for reference. Occasionally, I’ll paint from real life, but photos are a little easier for me to control. My goal is usually to make my paintings fairly realistic but also inject a bit more color and flair than what is truly there. And of course, I dabble in portraiture, landscape and abstract. It’s all fun and each painting presents a new challenge! When I’m not creating, I love spending time with friends, practicing yoga at a local studio, laughing at the funny things my husband says, staying plugged in on social media and watching movies and reality TV! My church is a big part of my life. Its members are supportive of one another’s lives and faith journeys while also reaching out into the community and even other countries to help others. I believe God gives everyone gifts to use in the world, and one of the saddest things is for talent to go unexpressed or unnoticed. While I’ve expressed myself creatively in many ways over my lifetime, I regret that it took me so long to try painting. I’m making up for lost time now! I create art because I can. I believe God gives each of us gifts to use in the world, and I received a certain amount of inborn creative ability through my genes and family line. I come from a long line of creative folks! It’s my gift to grow to its maximum height or to squelch out of fear or laziness. Granted the latter two qualities get in my way at times, but I keep seeking my artistic calling and direction. I listen to my heart, my interests and the things to which I’m drawn for inspiration on subject matter and style. From Barbies to bulls, sunflowers to sewing patterns, I enjoy using a contemporary style to capture the colorful world around us. My advertising background probably influences my interest in pop cultural “product” type content. I find myself drawn to retro toys that were popular when I was a child—like Mr. Potato Head, troll dolls and G.I. Joes. I was introduced to using oils through a community college class I took a few years ago. It lifted the veil of this seemingly complicated medium’s recipe of ingredients. While oil is what I use most now, I also occasionally enjoy the fast-drying quality of acrylics and the variety of mixed media. Calling myself an “artist” or “painter” feels a bit pretentious to me, but it’s a garment I’m happy to wear. While it may feel a bit oversized now, I expect to grow into it!
- Cheryl Copeland
- Race To The Bottom