As far back as Cheryl Harley-Volz remembers, drawing has inspired a sense of peace, noticed early on by her parents.
To keep her quiet in church, they would sit the small girl down with a pencil and bulletin.
“It worked,” Cheryl said. “I was a toddler when they started me drawing.”
These days, Cheryl is a celebrated artist with a base of collectors throughout the United States and abroad, with her work gracing covers of publications throughout the nation. She is also juried into Artists of the West, a national organization of approximately 200 professional women artists, promoting fine arts with members spanning more than 30 states.
Along with a love of art, Cheryl maintains a deep passion for horses, nurtured by her mother, who was raised on a Colorado ranch. Cheryl grew up in a rural area but spent a lot of time visiting ranches owned by her uncles.
Much of her art reflects horses and the West in general, and most is Americana – children, dogs, rodeos – she loves and captures it all with graphite, color pencils and lately, alcohol ink.
“Alcohol ink has been used for years as a hobby medium,” she explained. “The colors are intense and it has a mind of its own. You can romance it, but you can’t control it.”
Cheryl also sculpts. A member of the Wickenburg Art Club for the last three years, Cheryl enjoys spending time there as a fellow artist and as a teacher. A past Wickenburg resident, she now resides at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility with her husband Mike as camp hosts. It is only 30-some miles from town, but she still misses Wickenburg.
By high school, Cheryl knew she wanted to make her life in art, and after graduation, she earned her bachelor of fine arts at Colorado State University.
She married and became a stay-at-home mom, rodeo mom and competitor in barrel racing, goat tying and team roping in the professional ranks, qualifying for All Girls Rodeo national finals, and second place, qualifying for circuit finals in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA).
At home, Cheryl created art.
“At times, I made art to feed my family,” she said. “Sometimes they were very meager meals. It was hand-to-mouth survival, and I had no money to grow my business.”
After raising four children, Cheryl and her first husband divorced after 37 years of marriage. She then returned to college and earned a teaching certificate.
She taught art to children from Kindergarten through 12th grade, but eventually centered on special needs classes.
“I fell in love with it,” said Cheryl, explaining how the students profoundly expressed themselves through their art.
Five years ago, she married Mike Volz, an “old friend and cowboy,” and professional boot maker.
“He’s been unbelievably supportive of my work,” said Cheryl. “I’ve really grown.”
Cheryl recently participated in the Mountain Oyster Club Art Show in Tucson, rated as one of the top 10 shows in the nation by Southwest Art magazine. While there, she sold her piece, “Many Cou.” The winner had to be determined by a drawing because 10 art lovers wanted it.
This month, Cheryl will participate in the Celebration of Fine Art, beginning Jan. 14 – March 26 under a big tent in Scottsdale on the southwest corner of Hayden Road and Loop 101, booth 222. There, she will work alongside 150 or so artists, creating her work while visitors observe her talent, technique and style. It is something she looks forward to.
“Frankly, when I make art, I feel the presence of God,” she said. “So I know He has designed me to do that.”