We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheryl Eggleston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cheryl, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
One of my favorite quotes is by Vincent van Gogh: “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter’, then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced.” This quote, for me, points up the courage it takes to overcome your personal insecurities about your abilities as an artist and to move forward anyway. To begin, I never know how or what one of my paintings will turn out to say, if anything. When I get halfway through the work, I start to wonder what I’ll call the painting. Names are hard. Before the painting is three quarters done, I sit down at my computer.
I have been thinking as I have been painting and when I sit at the computer, I usually try to focus on one word or phrase that I feel best describes my most prominent thought. I type that one word or phrase. That word/phrase may become the title, or maybe it’s the germ of the idea behind the painting. I type, edit. I re-type and edit again. As I solidify my thoughts, my mind and the visual image I’m painting, become much clearer. Then I go back to the work on my easel and finish it. And now that voice inside my head starts to nag. Not about the physical painting itself. With that, I’m usually satisfied, or I wouldn’t call it finished. No, the nagging is about the thought or idea behind the painting. ‘Who am I to expound on anything?’, I ask. ‘Is this a valid line of thought?’, I wonder.
Have I gone down another rabbit hole? I have to say, that before I started painting and calling myself an artist, it was so easy to hide my thoughts and ideas. ‘Just keep it to yourself,’ I’d think. ‘Life’s a breeze – don’t put yourself out there’. I’ve read that it takes courage to be an artist and, boy, do I believe it now! I never really thought or cared about the courage to create before I started to paint. To invest your time, energy, monetary resources, intellectual, and especially psychological, efforts into a work of art; think it’s good, and then put it out for public scrutiny, takes real courage. For me, it’s sort of like those young teenage dreams I used to have where you are naked in public. No one else seems to notice your nakedness, but you are desperate to find cover. I divulge more of myself in my painting style and I wonder if I’m being self-centered in my work.
Would I have these concerns if I concentrated on abstract expressionism or digital art? I doubt it. Those genres are currently more popular than what I am doing. But if I chose that form of expression, my own deeper thoughts would go unexamined. While a part of me wants to play it safe and paint in the popular styles, there’s a bigger part of me that wants to buck the trend and zig when the rest of the world zags. So, I muster up more courage and I do that. Like Vincent, I choose to ignore the voice within who says I am not a painter. To that voice I say, “Oh, yes, I am!”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
There are always challenges. I believe as a creative, you have to know yourself. That requires some soul searching, digging into sometimes difficult issues. As an example, after my husband’s death, I painted 10 paintings on grief. They were unsettling, but they helped heal the wound. I guess the lesson I learned was to process the experience (feel the pain), regroup and keep going.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, I’m an introvert and my friends know this. They are my friends because they also enjoy a quiet, quality lifestyle. No beach parties, no loud night spots and no mega mall shopping. Our good time would be sitting on my patio with frozen drinks and tasty vegetarian foods from Whole Foods or Fresh Market, and enjoying great conversations. To get out a little, a trip downtown to Ft. Lauderdale’s Museum of Art or a walk in Markham Park would be a nice way to spend some time – art and nature.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Several local art organizations and the people associated with them have all been helpful: ArtServe-Ft. Lauderdale, Broward Art Guild, National League of American Pen Women and Florida Artists Group, among others. But, I dedicate this shout out to my late husband. Not only did he support me, he financed my art education and he deserves the most credit. He always wanted me to paint when all I wanted to do was draw in black and white.