Hi, I’m Cherol. The artist.
It’s taken me a while to claim that I’m an artist. I’m self-taught, for the most part, although I did take a bunch of courses in college. I started painting, well, like you, in kindergarten. And, I’ve eaten my fair share of paste, tasted minty. When I was very young my Grandmother took me to Saturday art classes at The De Young Museum in San Francisco. We also were fortunate to live close to the De Young and it became a place I knew I could go to gather my thoughts and study art. I spent my youth falling in love with art. All kinds of art. I liked how sound bounced off these amazing sculptures in these otherwise empty big rooms. I liked the way a painting and its colors filled a space. I liked imagining I was interacting with the people in the paintings. I would close my eyes and listen to heels clicking on the marble floor and imagine I was holding a chisel and hammering away to uncover a statue hidden in a boulder.
Then a few decades happened, only to find myself needing a way to express how I felt in the life I was living; it was then that I found intuitive painting. I had always felt at home painting, I could do it anytime I wanted, and paint every emotion I could access. In 2010 the downturn of the economy gave me an opportunity to start a new chapter of my life. My kids were older, I had a support system in place, I knew how to budget, so there was nothing to stop me. That’s when I set out to become an Expressive Arts Facilitator and established Eye Walker Studios.
Slowly, and in the background of the studio I began to paint bigger, and I felt a really strong desire to put my paintings on canvas and put them out to the world. Like inside is this need to share my thoughts, my feelings about the world, my experiences with people, and life with the viewer.
©2011-2017Eye Walker Studios
American Canyon artist always found a way to feed creative spirit
FAIRFIELD — Art has always been in Cherol Ockrassa’s life, even if she wasn’t creating it.
Raised by her maternal grandparents in San Francisco, trips to the de Young Museum and Saturday art classes there were frequent.
Such exposure fed her passion for creating. Musical events, the city’s architecture and contrast of colors also figured prominently.
“Without being aware, it was an everyday thing,” said the American Canyon resident who has work in the current exhibit at the Solano Town Center gallery.
Ockrassa was in public schools at a time when art material was readily available. On rainy days, art took the place of recess.
When her youngest daughter started coming home sans art, Ockrassa put her in a different school.
“With my oldest daughter I saw it (art) coming home all the time,” she said.
Raising two daughters, she found different ways to express her artistic side, from making jewelry to cooking a creative meal. “There’s always a way to feed the creative spirit,” she said.
Ockrassa has worked in a variety of fields from driving a delivery truck, to answering credit bureau calls and being a pharmacy technician.
Her last job was as an executive assistant for a human resources compliance firm.
“The work was great,” she said. “The hours were great.”
New ownership took over the firm in 2010 and moved her job to Texas. After being “dropped to her knees,” Ockrassa decided to pursue her passion for art. In 2011, she established Eye Walker Studios after attending Chris Zydel’s Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher training program.
Ockrassa has taken what she learned into the community through the monthly artwalk in Vallejo and other community events.
She began getting involved with local arts groups and galleries. Her focus today is on creating art which she describes as “mostly allegorical” and “a little abstract.” The human form is prominent.
“Once you feel really grounded doing something, you listen to it and build upon that,” Ockrassa said.
All her free time is paint time. The process can be quick or long.
“I go with the flow,” she said. “I pick colors that suit me or call me. I start with those and keep working until I feel pulled to go in a direction, to explore image or form, color or shape.”
If an image shows up, she’ll work with that.
And, she may not end up liking it. “Other times I may paint over it and the background changes and morphs several times. I may take off a layer of paint,” she said.
Ockrassa is also a member of the Lawler House Gallery, where she is working on a pumpkin painting plan with fellow Lawler artist Jo Renae Daniel.
Art is also the medium she uses to express her opinions. “The political climate is fodder to a lot of artists,” she said.
She loves the idea of having a gallery inside the mall, noting it brings in viewers on a whim. “They are passing by on their way to buy socks and we get them,” she said.
Once a month she teaches a class there on painting on reusable canvas bags. It’s called “Take Your Inner Child Shopping.”
‘City Scapes/Rural Walks?’