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By Mark Pavilons
“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”
– Marsha Norman
A passion that began at a young age has propelled a York artist throughout her career.
Cheryl Uhrig always loved cartoons, which she says combine ideas, writing and art. That's what led her to a career in advertising as a copywriter and creative director for many years.
After her son was born, Uhrig wrote and illustrated a children's book called “Please Don't Bug The Dog!” (Published by Thick'n'Chunky Publishing Co.) It's about their son's antics with their first dog Truffles. that experience encouraged her to get back into art.
Uhrig currently works in pen and ink, markers, watercolours and pencil crayons. She also works in oil and acrylic paints with brush or palette knife.
“I'm never bored. If I do not have a project to work on, I create one. In the first lockdown, the ever changing news cycles even got me going on some political and editorial cartoons.”
The bulk of her work is for children's books and magazine articles. The story line, and reader audience determines if she uses cartoon or illustrative style to convey their ideas.
“Painting is something I just have to do, for me. I paint almost every day. It may be a Mennonite theme, an abstract landscape, walking a dog on a snowy night, people in a gallery, riding the subway – or whatever else comes to mind. The joy is in the doing.”
Uhrig admitted that painting in acrylics and oil is where she goes to play.
“I often have several paintings on the go at one time. Both the subject matter and the style varies. It all depends on what thought or image has inspired me. I like to visualize slices of life.
“Like a spot cartoon, each one tells a quick story, more often from a memory than a photograph. I like to paint intuitively without restrictions, and be free to express what I see and feel in bold colours and lines.”
Illustrations and cartoons take focus and involve subtle details. Exchanging a fine pen for a big brush is a way to loosen up, unwind and express freely.
Her work for children's books is special and she loves working with a writer who has a story to tell.
“It is an honour to illustrate their vision. Some self-publish, others are produced by a publisher. Whether it is five books or 5,000 books, it is always exciting to see a story brought to life in a book that people will read.
“The fun is in the doing. Every project is different. And each project enhances the next one. That never gets old for me.”
Cartoons, she pointed out, see the lighter side of life or an idea. “Golden Moments” is a cartoon series for Golden Rescue's newsletter. It's a labour of love and the family's Golden provides endless inspiration.
In the Weekly's Mosaic Magazine, Art Weis writes “Biologist at the Table,” that covers a variety of informative, science based topics. Yet even with the subject matter, a lighter side can always be found, Uhrig said.
Another of her favourite illustrations is in the series of books, Things To Say No To. They are filled with witty tongue twisters, written by author and humourist, Lorne Macrae. A cartoonist's delight.
“As for paintings and prints, I'm always amazed at where they end up – in homes, offices, cottages, in calendars and on Christmas cards. As an artist I hope they enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them.”
Like many artists, Uhrig hopes her work creates a connection, emotion, and in some cases, a good chuckle.
Uhrig, who conducts workshops, said everyone has a creative side. But it's no different than learning to play the piano or tennis. There are no shortcuts. It takes time and practise.
“People want to paint what they like – and that's what I like to focus on in classes. Whether it is a cartoon of their pet or a view from their backyard. It is their art journey and I want them to enjoy it.”
Uhrig admits that artists tend to be hard on themselves.
“We think it must be perfect the first time. Reality is it may take several tries. But that's OK. The learning is in the doing.
“So in classes I hope students embrace that. If it does not work, no big deal. Keep going. It's wonderful to see a student, at any age, excited with something they created.”
You can see her work at some upcoming shows in the area. At the Newmarket municipal offices, work is on display through mid-June.
Seniors' Art Show & Sale, Old Town Hall, Newmarket, runs June 4 to 18. Main Street Augmented Reality Art Show (launches May 7 at the Elman Campbell Museum, Main Street, Newmarket) and runs through the summer. Uhrig will also be at the Spring Fling, Mill Pond Gallery, Richmond Hill, May 7/8 and 14/15.
For more, contact her at email@example.com
Excerpt: A passion that began at a young age has propelled at York artist throughout her career. Cheryl Uhrig always loved cartoons, which she says combine ideas, writing and art. That’s what led her to a career in advertising as a copywriter and creative director for many years.
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