Artist finds beauty in scenes that others often overlook
Cheryl Hastings spends a lot of time painting what others may have overlooked.
The back of the fast-food restaurant KFC, a rundown wooden house and a sunken dock are among the 22 pieces she has on display at the Bermuda Arts Centre at Dockyard.
“I don’t tend to do traditional landscapes,” said Ms Hastings, a member of the Bermuda Plein Air group that travels the island painting every Sunday. “I usually look out for an unusual view. When I was studying in Liverpool I did a lot on urban decay and I quite like finding the things people don’t [usually see as appealing] and then turning them around so people can see what I see – beauty in the unexpected.
“Quite often everybody else in the group is looking one way and I’ve turned around looking the other way. I look for quirky angles mostly. A lot of my views aren’t what you would [describe as] ‘a Bermuda view’.”
As an art student in the UK Ms Hastings specialised in printmaking, creating etchings and multimedia relief pieces.
She has been preoccupied by acrylics since she moved to the island. Although nervous about showing her work publicly, she held her first solo exhibit in 2019 in order to raise funds for the Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation.
This time around it was Heidi Cowen, the Bermuda Arts Centre at Dockyard’s administrator, who encouraged her to put “the flurry of work” she created between March and December of last year on display.
“I definitely did a lot more because I couldn’t work,” said Ms Hastings, a therapist who treats children through play. “I was going out and painting more. Maybe it made me a bit more intent on looking for the beauty, looking for something gorgeous to paint rather than focusing on the heaviness of the situation that was and is happening. Maybe I was trying to look for something a bit lighter, something uplifting.
“I thought why not? Why not give it a go? I’ve done one and I was brave, I put it out there. Let’s do that again.”
Most of her pieces were created while painting as part of the Plein Air group. All acrylics, she put most on paper although there are a few that are on canvas.
“There are also a few paintings from a hurricane when we couldn’t go out and I didn’t know what to do with myself,” Ms Hastings said. “I set up my easel and did a few paintings from photos I’d taken of the storm approaching the beach. I’d gone for a walk the day before and had taken some dramatic sky and sea photos so I did those ones at home.”
She’s grateful for the guidance she’s received from Plein Air members, many of whom can now easily identify her work.
“On a Sunday morning we all go out together and everybody paints their thing and then there’s a little critique at the end where we talk about our work and the things we can do to improve and move forward,” Ms Hastings said. “I am known for my bold colours and alternative views of locations- hence the name of my show, Cherylscapes. It’s a wonderful group; very supportive and friendly.
“That’s my time to paint. The rest of my week is busy with work and family but Sunday morning I’ve blocked out as my time to be creative so for me it’s really important that I go every week but a lot of people will just go when we’re In their area or when they’ve got that gap that they can come.”
For most people, Ms Hastings’s opening was a virtual event on December 6. Reception to her work has been “good”, the artist said.
“Obviously [the opening was] not the same as in 2019,” she said. “That was so much fun – there was a big group of people, it was an evening event, there was wine. This time around when we had the opening it was very lovely but we were very aware of the Covid situation. There was only a small number of people invited, it was a daytime. I was painting en situ but I spent most of my time handing out chocolates.”
Cheryl Hastings’s exhibit, Cherylscapes, runs until January 21. View and buy her paintings here: bit.ly/3nDPQUG. To join Bermuda Plein Air visit Facebook or contact Heidi Cowen at the Bermuda Arts Centre at Dockyard: firstname.lastname@example.org; 534-2809. For more information on Ms Hastings’s work as a play therapist visit www.creativerumpus.com