Double take: artist’s painting often mistaken for photos

By Natali Trivuncic
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Cher Pruys, above is a local artist and music teacher. She is extensively featured in juried shows, and has won several awards for her work. She has done 14 solo shows , and has been featured in nearly 100 international publications. -Facebook photo

Some talents come naturally to some, whether that is sports, singing, helping others or in Cher Pruys’ case, hyperrealism painting. If you have ever seen Pruys’ paintings, you are sure to have done a double take, easily mistaking it for a photograph.

Cher Pruys was born in Regina and has lived in many places across Canada from Saskatoon to Ottawa, Fort Frances and now Devlin where she lives with her husband, four dogs and two cats. She is also a musician, playing both the piano and guitar, and has been teaching music for 35 years.

Pruys began drawing when she was three. Over the years she has worked with pencil, charcoal and ink but it wasn’t until she was 35 that she began painting.

“I just decided to pick up some paints one day and see what the difference was between them and drawing and it was just great,” Pruys said. “It just came natural and it was even nicer than drawing everything out.”

Pruys started out with oil paints but she said it gave her a headache and with a tendency to lick her paint brushes to get a precise point, oil paints did not taste great either. Pruys found her chosen mediums in acrylic, water colour and gouache.

Diving into the world of hyperrealism art was a gradual process for Pruys. She’s dabbled in abstract art, but found that she enjoyed painting what was in front of her more.

Hyperrealism is an art form that resembles high resolution photography. This art form includes sculptures and paintings that focus on detail to look like real life.

Looking at Pruys’ work you would have expected her to have taken years of classes, but she is self-taught. Her work has been juried into 132 international exhibits as well as numerous non juried shows and has earned her 115 awards for her work at the International Juried Exhibits.

Included in these awards, the first recipient of a major Canadian National Award, The Mary Pratt Crystal Award of Excellence at the 2014 SCA Open Juried Exhibition and The Gold Medal recipient for Figurative Painting in The Mondial Art Academia’s International 2018 Competition.

Pruys has had 14 solo exhibits and her work has adorned the covers of three books, 21 magazines, and has been featured in over 84 international publications. Her works have found a permanent home in private and public collections worldwide.

Hyperrealism is not for the impatient. Pruys said the least number of hours she’s spent on a painting was 60 and some can take up to 250 hours, but the end result is worth every tiny brush stroke.

“I’m a stickler for detail but it’s just a whole lot of time and patience,” Pruys said. “You can’t rush it, it’s just layer on layer and also you have to be able to draw to do realism in order to the perspective and everything right.”

Pruys said the process before painting can require a lot of research.

“If I’m doing a portrait, even if there’s a particular photo that somebody wants me to paint, I like to have a number of photos so I can get a feeling of their personality,” Pruys said. “It goes beyond just making it look like the person, is has to capture some of the person’s personality in there.”

Pruys said now that she is semi-retired, she has more time to paint and has been enjoying the process more.

Pruys said she loves to paint reflections and shiny surfaces, which can be the most difficult details to paint. Pruys said she likes a challenge and what others might dread painting, she enjoys the most.

Painting makes it possible to recapture the magic of a memory or a feeling, Pruys said, adding that it is her motivation and reason for being.