Featured Artist Cheryl McDonald

Artist Cheryl McDonald presents a collection of fantastical scenes created in graphite and colored pencil. See more of her surreal artwork on her website.


dreamy pencil drawing of a fantasy scene

“A Journey Through Realities” graphite on paper, 22″ x 26″


I was raised in a small town by two loving parents who came from small town backgrounds. Visiting art galleries was a rarity and art was a luxury. My parents were creative in many ways and I learned to think creatively from them.


surreal graphite drawing

“Holding on to the Last Mask” graphite and colored pencil, 28″ x 22″


I loved art in school and admired the drawing skills of a classmate, but I couldn’t seem to capture images on paper with the same perfection. This great disappointment led me to believe that my dream of being an artist was not something I could do. Embarrassed by my lack of talent, I never took an art class in high school for fear of ruining my GPA.


fantasy pencil drawing with clown figure

“Welcome to Absurdity” graphite on paper 22″ x 14″


A few years later I took a fiber craft class that covered different kinds of projects. The teacher told me I had such a great sense of color and design layout that I should take classes in art at the local college. I told her I couldn’t draw, so I couldn’t be an artist. Why bother?


surreal figurative pencil drawing

“Revelations or Renovations” graphite on paper, 22″ x 28″


She laughed at me and said an artist is someone who has visions that they want to share with the world. An artist learns the tools they need to bring those visions to life. Drawing is a skill you can learn if that is what your visions require. She was totally right!


Surreal pencil drawing of a landscape and moon

“Buddha Moon” graphite and colored pencil on paper, 14″ x 11″


My visions needed good drawing skills, and I did what she suggested. Becoming a voracious learner, I studied in college classes and private workshops, buying books and going to galleries to study artists’ techniques. I kept having these visions that wanted to be created. I started with graphite pencil, layering various hardnesses to create rich layers of light and shadow.


“Covid Dreams, My Eyes Can Travel” graphite and colored pencil on paper, 12″ x 9″


My skills improved the more I drew. At one point, someone suggested I try color. I still wanted to create a dreamlike atmosphere in my work, so I started experimenting with various colored pencils. I came up with a technique of layering soft color between layers of graphite. It gives my drawings a vintage feeling, like a hand-colored photo.


Pencil drawing of a harlequin talking to the moon

“Can I Ask a Question?” graphite and colored pencil on paper, 27″ x 32″


I create a blend of reality and dreamscapes to handle difficult subjects and feelings. Using multiple tools like dimensional layers, scaled objects, and perspective elements, I draw you into the image. I often work in series and use archetypal characters and symbols to weave a story for you to unravel.


Fantasy drawing of a suspended flower in graphite and colored pencil

“Almost Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades” graphite and colored pencil on paper, 21.5″ x 16.5″


People find my images to be magical, humorous, and sometimes haunting as they discover stories I did not know I was telling. I am now in the process of writing poetry to express them more completely.


Pencil drawing of puppeteer

Free Will, graphite on paper, 25″ x 20″


This collection is all created in graphite and colored pencil.  My dreams come from a muse called Georg who inspires these dreams and won’t leave until I put them on the page. I add Georg in the signature on each image. I am currently working on a large solo show for the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, CA that will be held in March-May 2023, and a new book.


Cheryl McDonald invites you to follow her on her blog, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Musero.

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