Cherrie Mansfield – Painter

Can you tell us about yourself and your background as an artist/maker?

Growing up in West Sussex, I had a creative, colour-filled childhood. We didn’t have a TV so I had to find other ways to entertain myself. Whether it was drawing, colouring, painting by numbers, making candles or performing plays with my brother and friends in our front room, I usually had some sort of creative project on the go.

In my art lessons at school I enjoyed experimenting with paint, collage and PVA glue mixes. After receiving little encouragement from my teacher, I gave up making art and went on to study geology at university in the north east of England.

When I moved to Worcester with my now husband, Peter, we began making frequent trips to West Cornwall, home to vibrant artists’ colonies since the late nineteenth century. These visits revived my interest in art. An evening art class soon followed, as well as courses at the St Ives School of Painting and Newlyn School of Art. These gave me the confidence to start painting at home and everything took off from there.

'Fortunately' – acrylic on board

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

Colour excites me, grabs my attention and fuels my creativity. I work quite quickly and instinctively without much pre-planning. Once I’ve selected my palette I get to work with painting knives, rubber tipped brushes and colour shapers liberally applying acrylic paint, often straight from the tube, scraping and mark making.

I complete some pieces in a single session. Others I’ll revisit several times over a period of weeks, sometimes longer. My larger ‘cut-out’ pieces take the longest from start to finish as there are a number of different stages with drying times in between and it can take a while to perfect the final composition.

I get a real thrill from making my ‘thrown’ paintings. These are the works I have least control over in terms of how the paint lands or what the finished piece will look like. The resulting contours of colour and undulating textures can be mesmerising.

One of the most exciting things about creating art is making fresh and unexpected discoveries, such as new colour combinations that really vibrate off each other or a different technique that goes on to generate a whole new series of work.

Where you do usually work from?

My studio is situated in a light south facing room with a sloping ceiling on the top floor of our Victorian house. It’s a colourful, sometimes rather untidy space that also doubles as an office. During lockdown I’ve spent long days working in there in my four day a week job. The colourful studio backdrop has generated plenty of comments from people on my work Zoom calls.

Tell us about a favourite piece of work and what it means to you.

My favourites tend to change over time as I create new work. I’m thinking about starting a little gallery wall of some key pieces that I want to hold on to.

I’m particularly proud of a vibrant, striking piece of collaborative artwork that hangs in the entrance of St Peter’s Baptist Church in Worcester and was the outcome of a project that I led a couple of years ago. Entitled ‘One family – many parts’, it consists of over 200 unique canvas tiles created by people of all ages who are part of the church. It was wonderful seeing such a diverse array of eye-catching artwork emerge, particularly from those who claimed they weren’t at all creative!

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

First and foremost it’s colour. That’s often the starting point for my artwork coupled with anything that grabs my attention, such as the pattern of a friend’s dress, a display of plastic spades at the seaside, geological formations and the dramatic coastlines of West Cornwall. I’m also inspired by the work of renowned artists including Henri Matisse, Patrick Heron, Terry Frost, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and John Hoyland, as well as American abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock.

What advice would you have for artists who are just starting out?

Make time to create regularly. Have confidence in your work. Make what you love, not just to please other people. Accept that not everyone will love your work and that’s ok. Take risks, but be prepared for knock backs. Be organised with the boring things like cataloguing, photographing your work, framing and meeting deadlines. And most importantly of all – know when to stop! It’s so easy to overwork a piece and loose its initial energy and freshness.

If you sell your work, can you tell us more about how you do this?

I sell my work through exhibitions, art events, Worcestershire Open Studios and through my social media channels. As well as original paintings I have a range of cards, cushions and mugs featuring extracts of my artwork that make great gifts.

Part of the 'One family, many parts' collaborative artwork

How has lockdown changed your creative process?

I’ve made lots of small pieces of artwork but I’ve found larger pieces quite a challenge during lockdown. There have been some good opportunities too. In May I created four brand new pieces of work for a #CreativeConnections collaborative project with fellow artists Caroline Hall and Susan Birth. We each created paintings inspired by the evocative poem Freezing point by Jeremy Harwood and made a video showcasing our creative processes and the final pieces.

Tell us about any future projects you have planned.

During lockdown I have been showing some of my artwork in our dining room for passers-by to enjoy. I change the pieces in my window gallery every Thursday and also post them on my website and social media pages. They’ve attracted a lot of attention and also generated quite a few sales, which is great especially as I’m donating a proportion to Worcester Foodbank.

I am considering holding a socially distanced ‘open studio’ in our back garden over the August bank holiday weekend as Worcestershire Open Studios is online this year. Looking further ahead, I plan to be at Surrey Contemporary Art Fair in March and I’ve got a show at Malvern’s Elmslie House with Susan Birth and Caroline Hall next spring.

See more of Cherrie’s work on her Worcestershire Artists page.

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