Artist finds her strength working in diverse media


By Marti Gacioch

Cherry Sweig’s paintings give new meaning to the term artistic diversity. Whether she’s creating color-splashed plein air works of California and beyond, gyotaku (nature imprints), scroll paintings, custom tile murals or oils of endangered equines, Sweig has mastered them all.

“I have a lot of diverse styles, but I have noticed that each of the styles helps each other,” she said. “When I paint oils and I go back to watercolors, my watercolors are better, so I believe that each of the mediums enhance each other.”

Sweig has painted since an early age, and she has her first mentor, Sylvia Love, to thank for it. Love was her grandmother’s cousin and an impressionistic colorist painter.

“She painted like Monet and enrolled me in art classes at 15,” said Sweig. “She took me painting plein air with her, and at times I feel like I’m painting like her.”

Sweig considers herself a “colorist.”

“A colorist means you use color to evoke an emotion,” she said. “Colorists study the relationships of complimentary colors, the tertiary colors and all the different colors of the color wheel and then go through values and how they bounce off next to each other.”

A graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in graphic design and fine art, Sweig has had a varied career, including video game designer, advertising art director and art curator, but she now prefers working in the solitude of her own Poway studio.

Sweig enjoys painting the atmosphere and spirit of the places she visits, and she’s covered a good part of the globe. A frequent visitor to Europe, she will soon spend another month there, painting in Belgium, Spain and France. Next year, her painting itinerary includes Peru where she will meet up with other artists to do sketchbook paintings of Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. She hopes to visit China and Thailand in the future.

A visit to Greece inspired Sweig to help save the endangered small horses of Skyros Island, and she works with the Silva Project to raise funds to aid this vanishing breed. Her philanthropic efforts also cross over into her artistic life. This year she won an Honorable Mention ribbon at the San Diego County Fair for “Corfu Zephyr,” a Skyrian horse portrait.

While Sweig’s favorite artists include John Singer Sergeant, Monet and Cezanne, Georgia O’Keefe is at the top of her list.

“We both grew up in the same area of Wisconsin and like me she was the youngest of five children,” said Sweig. “She was also an Episcopalian, and she worked as a commercial artist, which was my degree.”

A longtime muralist, Sweig developed her own special take on the art form after she grew tired of spending long hours painting murals in client’s homes. Instead, she devised custom-painted scrolls on heavy canvases in her studio. After painting a movable mural, she hangs it on a drapery rod three inches away from the wall to create a three-dimensional effect.

The time frame for completing a scroll painting depends on how much input Sweig receives from a client. While she can complete one in less than two weeks, a scroll painting of Venice took her several months to finish because her client provided a great deal of input.

“My goal is for the client to be absolutely thrilled,” she said. “That’s so important to me.”

Sweig recently returned from traveling the California coast where she worked on her “Coast 22” series, which she hopes to debut in October. The display will showcase 22 of her plein air works of the scenic California coastline in oils, watercolors and pastels. Sweig admits that she may have underestimated the scope of painting the coast.

“I realized that it’s going to take me a lifetime to paint the California coast because it is so amazing,” she said.

Sweig is now preparing her entries for “Summer in the Ranch,” the Rancho Santa Fe Art Guild’s exhibit that runs from July 8 through Sept. 6. One of her paintings will focus on Mille Fleurs, her favorite restaurant, while other works will center on the village’s majestic eucalyptus trees.

At the guild’s “Finer Art Affaire” on Sept. 7, Sweig will showcase her work in two booths - one for her oils and one for her watercolors. She’ll show 50 paintings from her portfolio, including new works inspired by her European travels.

Visit Sweig’s Web site at