It’s All About Color Therapy For This L.A. Printmaker’s Work


Cheryl Humphreys stands in front of a paper press and hand drawn sample works against a white brick wall

In her downtown L.A. studio, artist Cheryl Humphreys stands beside her paper press.

Like a gentle balm for your eyes, printmaker Cheryl Humphreys creates work that is defined by a soothing, somewhat undulating use of color, texture, form and scale. The Los Angeles-based artist hews minimalistic when it comes to shapes, shifting the focus to hues instead, like the gentle ebb and flow of blue or the deepening warmth of a yellow gradient. Playing with shadow and movement, her pieces evoke a sensory response—most often, a feeling of calm. That’s her favorite reaction. “I’ve always been interested in the idea that color affects all parts of us,” she muses.

various framed works of color and minimalist movement in artists studio, both hanging and leaning against the wall

Various framed finished works demonstrate how the artist plays with color, shadow and movement. The center top piece, 'Shift' is available through Tappan Collective.

artwork in artist studio showing various painted and dyed sample works in pink and peach colors

Among Humphreys works in process and studies, on the left is a maquette for a large commission work; on the right are color, shape and sun print studies.

close up shot of pencil sketches for artist's work series, in sketchpad

Humphreys often sketches out her ideas, such as these musings for her Recentering series.

artist holding painted paper samples colored with indigo dye on a desktop workspace

Drawers in her work space are filled with studies and sketches, such as samples colored with indigo dye and ink.

artist Cheryl Humphreys stands beside a paper press in front of sketches and white brick wall

The artist performs a pressure test on her studio’s paper press.

Not only do Humphreys’ works exude contemplative bliss, the ritualistic steps behind their creation are meditative as well. While her tools and materials are simple—paper, ink or dye, and hand-cut stencils or plates— complexity comes through the precision that brings her art to life. “Printmaking is very process-oriented and meticulous,” she explains. “It’s almost ceremonial.”

The artist, who earned a BFA at Otis College of Art and Design, might arrange elements in the sun over a defined period, creating a gradient of the changes brought by the exposure. Or she might repeatedly dip paper into an indigo vat over a course of weeks to obtain a layered effect. Recent series have included creations as varied as monochromatic prints imagined as visual aids for meditation and paper quilts woven from a collection of security envelopes. Now a mother—her son, Cyan, turns one this summer—Humphreys’ pregnancy inspired her to shift from synthetic dyes and to include more holistic aspects in her practice. She’s experimenting with natural colors, utilizing avocado skins, walnuts, marigold, hibiscus flowers and even cochineal bugs she’s collected herself off the skins of California cactuses.

With pieces on view through August 20 as part of the Long Beach Museum of Art’s “Color Fields” exhibition, Humphreys’ work is available through Tappan Collective, Artspace and Sarah Brook Gallery, where she will have a solo show in October. And some unexpected materials have newly captured her attention. “There’s more laundry in my house obviously, with a baby, so I’m planning to collect dryer lint to make shapes and set them out to dry in the sun. I imagine the lines will have this really soft, fuzzy texture,” the artist says. “I love the idea of someday creating a new body of work from domestic materials.”