Local Artist; International Acclaim!
“I come from a family of artists,” said Fort Myers Beach Public Library Artist of the Month Cheryl Fausel! “My grandmother and father were artists, so I was drawing and oil painting all my life and lucky enough to study it. In fact, I attended the same art school, the Rochester Institute of Technology, where my grandmother earned her art degree in 1901, with mine over 60 years later. What is interesting is we each had to do a portrait to graduate, and you can tell the difference in the two time periods by comparing those, like with hairstyles and clothing, so that is really fun!”
Cheryl met her future husband in college as well. “He studied graphics design, we were married within a year, and remain so now for over 50 years. He was originally from Germany and we both knew he would have to return, because he was the only son in a family printing business, so I realized we would make our life there.”
While in Germany, Cheryl not only kept up her oil painting, but set up educational classes at a military center for ten years, along with painting murals on the walls to make it look nice, and she had to carefully manage her budget to maximize the schedule for Americans and their families. “I had been painting with oils for over 20 years, but when I attended the program for watercolor, I looked over the shoulder of that instructor and thought, ‘I can do that,’ and no longer needed to hire another teacher. That day literally changed my life and now I am addicted to watercolor. I like the lightness and vibrancy of the colors, and have to admit I don’t miss the constant smell of turpentine you always need with oils! My grown daughter tells me to this day every time she smells turpentine, it reminds her of her childhood!”
My Sailing Life was Over!
Her husband eventually retired: “He is very handy with his hands, so he built a sailboat that we lived on for 18 straight months, as well as four winters, and we sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States and Canary Islands and across the Caribbean and all along the Eastern seaboard, but after four or five years, I informed him my sailing life was over! Around that time, the boat needed work so we came to Fort Myers Beach to do that, and started looking for a house and found one in Cape Coral in 1998 and the rest is history! Soon thereafter I started doing some area shows, including one at the Fort Myers Beach Art Association, and I really liked the people so I became a member.”
There, Cheryl resumed her teaching: “I instruct Beginning and Intermediate watercolor from November through March and love it. My students must love me in return because they keep coming back and my sessions are always full. I appreciate that, because I took over from Sue Pink, and every artist on the beach knows how talented Sue is! I teach as well out of my studio, but am hesitant to commit any more time to instruction, so I can concentrate more on my own paintings.”
As for how she became the Library artist this month, “The staff contacted me last November, saying the previous person needed to cancel, and that an art gallery recommended me, and asked if I could jump in, and I said I could, so here I am, with 26 watercolor pieces. I like to give my viewers something onto which they can hang their hats, so rather than being a pure abstract artist, I consider myself a surrealist.”
Besides being a well-known locally, Cheryl’s work over the past few years garnered international recognition. “The National Watercolour Society Magazine of France put out a call for submissions and 452 people sent in their work, and I was one of the top 15 selected for publication. This means a lot to me, because our daughter lives in France and she is so proud! Back in 2014, China hosted a major watercolor competition, to honor 30 artists from there and another 30 from overseas, and over 2,600 people sent submissions, and they picked me as one of those 30! I decided to attend the opening in person, as how many opportunities do you get to do that, and it became a memorable trip. I went with my brother, who has sadly since passed on, so that became a memory of a lifetime for him and me. The funny part is that, for both, there were no entry fees, so I literally submitted each at the last minute! I actually forgot about China, so when they called to congratulate me, I was like, ‘Oh My God!’”
My Passion & Purpose
Cheryl enjoys the process of painting: “It is my passion and purpose, and I will paint until either the day I die or can physically no longer do it, as you just do not stop something as wonderful as painting, like when you reach a certain age in other professions. As a professional artist, you work as long as you find your inspiration, and I make my own inspiration every day!”
There is one negative: “Time! I wish I could be done with a piece faster, but you have to punch all the tickets and push all the buttons, as it is a process, and you have to do what you have to do to produce a successful piece, and often that means more hours than you like, but that is the nature of the beast. You eventually acquire a gut feeling that tells you when you are or are not done, so you have to listen to your own intuition.”
She offered just one minor complaint about the profession. “Our world is really a verbal society, so galleries often encourage us artists to provide a statement about our vision, and to title our works. Many shows will not even accept submissions without titles, so more artists now come up with their title before they even begin to paint, but I prefer my works to make their own statements, to allow the viewer to connect with them in however best works for them, so the piece stands on its own, to provide each guest the opportunity to let it inspire their own personal story.”
To discover your own story through Cheryl’s masterpieces, visit the Fort Myers Beach Public Library 3rd Floor Exhibit area in January, including the “Meet the Artist” reception on Thursday, January 11, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The Library is at 2755 Estero Boulevard; with hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and closed Sundays and holidays, including Martin Luther King, Junior, Day on Monday, January 15. For information, see www.fmb.lib.fl.us or call 239-765-8162. In addition to the Library exhibit, Cheryl has a show in the Member’s Gallery at The Alliance For the Arts in Fort Myers in March. To contact Cheryl, see her webpage at www.cherylafausel.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.