Artist Cheryl King was just about to launch a new clothing line featuring her paintings of wildlife, “and then the lockdown hit,” she said, adding a bit ruefully, “at least my product doesn’t rot.”
As one door closed, another opened. The company making her clothing pivoted to face masks and wanted to decorate with her animal art. “This is awesome,” King said and immediately sent them six designs, quickly followed by four others. “The masks are made of stretchy double-layered polyester and come in five sizes,” she said. “They’re machine washable and have a removable nose wire. Best of all, they’re wearable art,” she said.
A portion of sales go to animal conservation, a cause she has long supported.
But her devotion to art and animals had to wait a few years.
Born and raised in Mountlake Terrace, King was an honor student and star athlete in high school. “It was the first year for Title IX sports and it was a huge deal because I always wanted to play sports,” she recalled.
Excelling in both volleyball and basketball, King knew she wasn’t the tallest girl out there. “Not at all. I just jumped higher.”
She received athletic scholarships to attend Edmonds Community College and after leaving the school, came back in the 1980s to coach women’s volleyball for four years.
King married and became an entrepreneur, owning several businesses over time. It wasn’t until she turned 30 that she seriously took up painting. “I studied with an Edmonds artist, mostly still-life subjects because they don’t move.”
After putting in years of “brush mileage” King made painting her profession, acknowledging that time playing sports in Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds gave her needed skills to pursue art full-time.
“Art is a tough gig,” she said. “So are sports. As an athlete, I learned to never give up and to persevere. I think it gave me business acumen. Not all artists have that side of it.”
King works on traditional canvas and linen but in recent years explored oil painting on aluminum. As for subject matter, her lifelong love of animals and concern for their welfare is expressed through paintings of wildlife, including a series called “Vanishing Nations,” which pays homage to shrinking habitat and endangered species.
She spoke out on behalf of another endangered species — artists of all kinds.
“There has been much talk about supporting local small businesses, which is good, but artists are also an integral part of society. Art feeds the soul.”
Check out King’s art and face masks on her website.
— By Connie McDougall
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