I live in Colorado, and after living in New York State, New Jersey, the Pacific Northwest and California, I feel inspired by both amazing landscape and seascape vistas!  The skies, sunrise/sunsets and cloud formations and patterns hold a particular interest for me.  Each day shows me something new, keeping my perspective and interest fresh and energized.  My medium is primarily oil, but I also enjoy oil stick, carbon and inks in my recent abstract works.  Adding gestural emphasis to my work has stretched and opened my color perspective with new and exciting possibilities!

My artwork is represented by these Fine Art Galleries:

Mill Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Aspen Art Gallery, Aspen, Colorado

Gallery 8 Arts, Avon, Colorado

Element, Denver, Colorado

The work in my recent series is bolder in color, often linear in underlying structure and yet soft focused in its objectivity, resonating an interpretive experience of landscapes. Beginning with compositional elements of landscape, I focus on pushing the paintings to convey more than just what I have seen around me all my life, seeking further interpretive elements through paint and process.  I may begin each work with a reference to something I have photographed or seen, but once line, shapes and colors are applied, each painting unfolds in personal discovery.  

Often I incorporate India ink, oil stick and carbon and use various tools to apply paint to create shapes and textures.  Experimentation allows spontaneous responsive possibilities and conveys my painterly journey.

Recently I have been interested in work from the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionists, notably Richard Diebenkorn, New York abstract expressionists Perle Fine and Helen Frankenthaler, along with the German painter Max Weiler.  I love their interpretive conveyances, their energies in gesture and passion for color and artist mark-making.  

Each day in the studio I ask, “What if I try…” as I begin anew, and am excited for the possibilities and challenges of the days’ work ahead.

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My Bio and Process:

               Cheri Vilona’s artistic training began in Rockland, NY with an Associate’s degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising.  She has continued working artistically over the last 30 years while moving from NY to California, Oregon, Florida, and finally Colorado. “Looking out the car window for hours as a small child while driving across the country, through New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, towards Colorado, Oregon and Washington, I studied the colors and patterns of the sky, farmlands, mountains and oceans. I have spent years photographing these American landscapes, country gardens and skies, and use these images as inspiration for further exploration within my paintings.”

               “I am interested in the dynamic interplay of line, shape and color, using strokes of paint that resonate recognition and at the same time abstraction, conveying a sense of interpreted place through atmospheric perspective in my work.  My artistic goal is to create an abstracted view and sense of place both visited and imagined within my paintings."

               “I begin with a visual reference, and choose a color plan that excites me.  Generally I sketch a value plan, and then onto the canvas! Once I have the entire canvas covered with a thin complimentary wash, I begin laying new exciting colors and establish my values and shapes with them.  Sometimes I scrape it all back, and let the piece dry, which gives an under painting texture and color dynamics that really add layers of interest.  I let some of this under painting peek through in each final piece. Oil paints allow such a wonderful painterly freedom of expression, the colors are vibrant and blend so well on the canvas, allowing happy surprises to appear and refresh my palette and give way to new and exciting directions.”

               “Once the canvas is through this stage, colors and shapes take precedence and the fun/work begins!  I use my reference photographs through this process, evaluating the canvases' evolving relationships, making sure that my aesthetic illusions stay within a dialogue with initial inspirations.  Sometimes paintings take many passes, changing and re-directing, that’s the fun of working with oils!  My final color corrections and intuitions push me out of my comfort area, away from my initial reference photographs, away from details, towards more exciting abstract color relationships, towards my very unique and personal interpreted sense of place.”

               Cheri, while primarily self-taught, has also attended oil painting workshops at the Arts Students League in Denver, working with notable artists Don Sahli, Jane Jones, Jill Soukup and Jordan Wolfson as well as oil workshops with Larissa Aukon of Santa Fe New Mexico, Mitch Alballa of Seatle Washington, Ken Elliott of Castle Rock, Colorado, Krista Harris of Durango Colorado, Casey Klahn of Washington, and Judy Greenan of Boulder, Colorado.  Her artistic touch lends itself to broad strokes, gestural marks with an intuitive color placement, capturing the essence and drama of the land and the sea and skies through open color choices, harmonies and contrasts.

               In 2013 and 2016 she was juried into the Artist in Residence Program in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Her artwork has been exhibited at Parkside Gallery in Park City, Utah, Thornwood Gallery in Houston, TX, Dolce Gallery in Telluride CO, Smith-Klein Gallery in Boulder, Colorado, Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Mousai Gallery in Carbondale CO.  

She currently shows her work at Mill Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Aspen Art Gallery in Aspen, Colorado, Element in Denver, Colorado, and Gallery 8 Arts in Avon, Colorado.  Cheri resides in Northern Colorado with her sculptor husband James Vilona.  Together they have created art and family for over 35 years.  

Vilona Studios

Vilona Studios, located in Berthoud, Colorado, includes a sculpture park, both Cheri and James Vilona's working artist studios, and we welcome visitors by appointment.