As you may have noticed, Studio M has ventured into the exciting world of fashion accessories! One of our newest collections for spring includes gorgeous tote bags, scarves, and more. Inspired by the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and cosmos – the collection was designed by Colorado artist Cherish Flieder. We're here on the blog today to introduce you to our Elements collection and Cherish herself!

Elements is fresh, unique, and exciting. The collection was designed to empower women through the beauty and wisdom of nature. Each item features Cherish’s artistic interpretation of an element – vast watercolor landscapes, light, airy patterns, fiery florals – as well as a few words that remind us of the powerful lessons we can learn from nature. Cherish captured each element with striking artwork and poignant phrases – for example, the cosmos teaches us to “shine brightly, make space, and see the big picture.”

We spoke with Cherish to bring you some insight into her creative process and her world as an artist. 

What words do others use to describe your art style? 

Some of the words people have used to describe my art are joyful, peaceful, free-spirited, flowing, colorful, sentimental, romantic, elegant, whimsical, floral, nature-inspired, impressionistic and uplifting.

Who or what inspires your art? Do you work from life, photographs, or your imagination?

My art is greatly inspired by nature and good memories of close friends and family. I am always taking photos and have many thousands of reference images from my travels to inform my imagination as I paint and draw. 

Usually, when I start a new piece I have a specific story or emotion I wish to convey. I do a lot of little sketches of my ideas and some quick color mockups, but when I go to paint the final it is mostly a freeform approach called “alla prima” (direct painting). The way I use watercolors is unpredictable, but authentic and original. It’s like when you begin on a journey somewhere, you know the final destination, but could never anticipate all the little things you will experience along the way. This is what can make traveling, and in my case painting, so enjoyable. This idea of loosely holding to the map helps my work to be full of life, color, and spontaneity. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am also greatly inspired by the Impressionists like Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, and so many more. They were the first generation of artists to have photo reference. They were also breaking out of the traditional studio lighting in favor of the natural color and light of the outdoors. Capturing nature was made more accessible with new portable painting systems such as watercolor. Similarly, I want to realize images that you can’t capture with a photograph or purely generate with a computer, adding a breath of humanity that comes from the artist’s hand. This is what makes my art approachable, whether it is an abstract or a representational object such as a bouquet of flowers.

Tell us about your family! Any pets?

I am blessed to be married to the love of my life, Benjamin Hummel, a talented children’s book illustrator and teacher. We met when I started art college at age 18 and have been inseparable ever since. Benjamin and I are both the first-born in our very large families. We love to spend time with our little brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews whenever we have the opportunity.

We have one adopted rescue kitty named Lady Guinevere, Gwinny for short. She is very talkative and is always up to something, but mostly she wants to be a part of whatever we are doing. We also love to garden and I’m officially a “plant-momma” to many indoor flowers and tropical plants, including a banana tree (which is technically an herb!) and a miniature lime tree.

What do you do when you’re not creating artwork?

I am drawn to researching and learning as much as I can about the world around me. What to make or do is always floating around my head and heart. When I am not painting and drawing I love the challenge of coming up with new product designs and innovative designs in general.

I’m an ambivert, which is a balance between introvert and extrovert. So after spending so much time alone focused in my studio and constantly learning new technology, I need to get out and talk with people and hear their stories both in person and online. I have a huge passion to teach and encourage others along their creative and entrepreneurial journeys.

Each day I begin by soaking in the views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains while keeping up with my little organic garden. Throughout the week I like to break up things going on a nature hike with a friend, spending time with my family and my life-groups from church, going the theatre or the ballet, window shopping, attending museum exhibits or gallery openings, swing dancing or swimming. When it comes to exploring and learning new things, the biggest reward is travel and taking the time to soak in the uniqueness of both new and familiar places and many different cultures. To wind down I might watch a movie, doodle on my iPad, or take in an inspirational book.

Do you listen to music when you create? If so, what?

Both my parents and two of my grandparents were musicians so music was the first art form I was exposed to as a child. I love to listen to almost all types of genres of music from swing/jazz, classical, indie folk, contemporary worship, modern pop, film scores, and good ol’ rock ’n roll. I also love to listen to inspirational talks and podcasts when I am working to mix things up.

As I was creating the “Elements by Cherish” collection, I kept a special playlist of music that was inspired by fire, water, air, earth and the cosmos. It was a fun surprise to see how often musicians were also inspired by these themes and it inspired some of my artwork as well!

What’s your favorite thing about your studio?

It is like walking into a bright light where anything is possible. I am so thankful to have a little space where each of my favorite mixed-media supplies are close at hand. My most treasured item in my studio is an oversized, oak light box complete with dovetailed corners that my dad lovingly handmade for me just before I left for art college.

What’s your favorite subject to draw/paint? Why?

More than anything, I love to paint flowers, both real and imaginary. They are very beautiful and remind me of all the dynamic women and girls in my life. Where I grew up on the plains of Colorado there were very few trees and wildflowers were small and spread out, so I really had to search for them. However, my mother and grandmothers would plant exquisite flower beds and take us to local gardens that were like a little piece of heaven. I have always admired how Georgia O’Keeffe painted her larger-than-life florals and when she moved to the desert, she sought out beauty in unexpected places. She has inspired me to make it a practice to do the same. The world needs more beauty and kindness and something about painting florals and nature connects me to that longing for all that is good and true.

What’s your favorite medium? Why?

I always say that watercolor is my native language. There is something about the fluidity of this water media that directly translates my mind and heart like no other media can. While watercolor is the base of what I do, I am not always a purist. I consider myself a “modern watercolorist” who uses all forms of mixed-media into my art to get the look I am going for. This will change on every piece. Some of my favorite go-to mediums are inks, markers, acrylics, digital, colored pencils, gold-leaf, pastels and even oils and fiber arts. The beautiful thing about creating your own art world is that you get to set the rules. I am passionate about trying new things and seeing how far I push a medium and more importantly the possibilities each new medium brings to the visual conversation.

What’s the most challenging thing about creating art?

Creating art for me is like putting together a puzzle and I love this type of challenge! Sometimes there will be a roadblock, and that’s part of the game. If I can clearly define the roadblock as a question, then I can put my subconscious brain to work on coming up with an answer. My love of learning makes my brain work like a magnet, always collecting information and ideas that I can cross-pollinate to go somewhere new. I have faith that the answer will always come just when I need it and if it doesn’t, I just take another path and that will be good, too.

What are three words that best describe you?

It’s funny you ask, after many years of soul searching I have recently boiled it down to these three words:

Grit, Grace and Gratitude. Grit is my drive and sacrifice to achieve my vision through thick and thin. Grace is how I describe the quiet strength, mercy, faith and love that I use to do everything I do. Gratitude is about being thankful which feeds my optimistic attitude towards life and my passion for giving.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

Never stop creating and stay curious! There is no need to obsess about finding your “style.” Don’t spend too much time looking at what everyone else is doing, it’s not good for your artistic spirit. Your style is unique and a part of you just like your voice or your fingerprint, but you will never discover it if you are always looking to imitate someone else. Stop trying to be so perfect all the time and give yourself the grace to just make art for the love of it. Sure, most of what you make will be pretty awful at first, but you might surprise yourself. Keep going and continue experimenting! Each image you make will teach you something new and you take this information into the next image and the next. Your natural, authentic art style will emerge and you can really start having fun once you can recognize what has been there all along.

What can art do for people?

I believe that art can literally transform you. It can change your mood and can be a welcome place to rest and focus or fun in a very busy, distracted and stressed-out world. When I am having a difficult day, an inviting landscape or colorful floral, interesting pattern or textured abstract can take my mind off my troubles and open me back up to my own creativity, passions and true path. It can be a visual anchor point to focus upon. Once my mood is changed, my actions and outcomes change for the better which makes me happier overall and might even make the world a better place. ;)

Thanks for stopping by our blog! We hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Cherish and the new items she designed. Shop the full Elements collection here!