Cheryl McDonald

Cheryl McDonald


I am a California girl raised in the Mojave Desert.

Growing up, I felt isolated in this place and I longed for experiences and the city life. It was a necessary part of my growth to try everything and experience as much as I could. Working at many kinds of creative jobs, floral design, interior design, a homemaker with little money for extras, I learned to imagine and create using available materials often in unique ways. I got my Associate in Arts Degree from the local college, with a focus in fine arts. I had teachers who gave me the basics and let me explore my own creative style.

In the mid 1980’s I and my family moved to the Long Beach area with the intention of my finishing my art degree at California State University Long Beach. Although that was not to happen, I used my time there to learn what I needed to know from classes, books, galleries and other artists in order to develop my unique style of drawing. In 2002 I joined a cooperative gallery in Long Beach called Gallery 117 and then in 2003, I opened my own arts and crafts gallery in Long Beach to show my work as well as the work of other local artists in the Long Beach area.

In 2005 I closed the gallery because of a declining economy and soon decided to move to San Francisco where I quickly became part of the art scene there. During the financial crash of 2008 it became hard to find work and the art scene was experiencing problems. In 2010 I was forced to leave San Francisco. I returned to the desert and started exploring this place I learned I knew nothing about.

The camera was very influential in my process. Capturing the fleeting and subtle beauty of the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and discovering the abandoned towns and settlements sparked my creativity and became a successful exhibit at the local museum in Ridgecrest. I am now a professional landscape photographer and tour guide who shares this desert with others. I write articles for local publications on Eastern Sierra Travel, I published my first book and in my spare time I still draw and paint.

Art comes from a life well lived. Learning to cope with people and places and life issues gives us an understanding of this world. Travel has also been important and learning about other cultures gives me a window into other ways to do things, other ways to live. Art is my passion and my way of expressing or even questioning life as it happens. I never stop learning and finding new ways to create. Everyday is a new opportunity to explore and express.


Published Works:

August 2015: Scenic 395 and Beyond, for the web edition go to http://scenic395.com/
July 2014 to the Present: I am a free-lance writer and photographer for the Daily Independent Newspaper contributing stories and photos of day trip get-aways up and down the HWY 395 Corridor.
August 2014-Major contributor for the travel magazine Scenic 395 and Beyond, the official guide to highways 14, 58, 178, and 395 for the web edition go to http://scenic395.com/

Abandonment Issues, Images of our abandoned past, 2013
Photographic exploration of 7 desert abandoned places. Available here