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Cheryl LeClair, American 


Cheryl has been interested in creating art since a young child but other interests, a career in law, and raising a family kept her from pursuing her creative talents.  Her desire to create was again sparked after purchasing a pastel landscape from a local artist in 1989.  Since then, the challenge of painting in soft pastels and oils has been her fundamental focus.   


Numerous workshops and ongoing private studies with nationally known artists including Albert Handell, Richard McKinley, the Art Academy, and ongoing study with Joseph Paquet (since 2009), have provided the crucial educational underpinnings to her artwork. 


Her primary focus is to work from life, mainly outdoors, which provides a greater connection with her subject.  Cheryl seeks to create art with grace and sensitivity to the natural world and to share the sense of place and point in time. 


Her efforts have produced recognition for her paintings with artwork regularly juried into national exhibits, awards at outdoor painting competitions, Master Circle award from IAPS, an award of a two-week residency, and a feature on the television show "MN Original" in 2011.  Cheryl’s future goals are to continue to master the oil painting medium, teach classes, regularly exhibit her artwork nationally, participate in outdoor painting competitions, and continue to hone her craft. 


Cheryl is a member of many art organizations including Outdoor Painters of Minnesota, Red Wing Arts Association, Grand Marais Art Colony, and Elk River Arts Alliance.  She was the President of the Lake Country Pastel Society from 2011 through January 2013. 






Painting in time honored, realistic traditions, I seek to create a sense of place and a point in time.  My paintings have oftentimes been labeled as sensitive to my subject matter.  In this way, I desire to share my view of the natural world that others may pass by unnoticed – a world that is at times beautiful and at times defies beauty.  My act of creation shows an intimate record of one human’s very average life to peek through to that whisper just beneath the surface.  In some way, my art is a sort of self-reflection and a longing to make an eternal mark. 


My work mainly focuses on working directly outside from life.  My subject matter has mainly consisted of landscapes, which is an image where the artist is the dominant subject matter, though unseen.  Working on location allows me to experience and try to capture the spontaneous and fleeting moment in time.  In painting landscapes outdoors, I seek to share my sense of communion with the earth and its ancient pace of change.  I continue to study to develop a sensitive eye and practiced touch – it is this ongoing challenge of art to which I am truly drawn. 







Workshops, private, and mentoring studies 1989 to present with Albert

     Handell (4), ongoing study since 2009 with Joe Paquet, Art Academy

     (2011 to present), Richard McKinley (3), Marc Hanson (2), Sally Strand (2),

     Douglas Dawson, Dan Mackerman, and Fred Somers (3).

International Association of Pastel Societies Biennial Conventions– attend

      demonstrations by internationally known artists. 1997 through 2013.

The Artistic Development Program - Banfill Locke Center for the Arts -

     1995 - 1997.




Curator for art procurement at Office of Administrative Hearing, State

     of Minnesota.  Create prospectus for bids, select finalists, purchase

     eighty works of art including commissioned artworks, prints,

     photographs, and reproductions.  Direct installation and catalog. 

Exhibition Chair, Jury, and Judge - Argyle Zebra (AZ) Gallery ’09

     “Animal Lovers Open Exhibit”- 2009.

Exhibition Co-Chair and Juror – AZ Gallery ’09 “Savoring Summer”


Exhibition Chair/Juror - AZ Gallery "08 “Portrait of America”

      Nat’l Exhibit.

Exhibition Chair, Juror, and Judge - AZ Gallery "08 “Gifts of Love”





Awarded two-week residency at Cornucopia Art Center, 

      Lanesboro, MN - 2007.   Paint plein air cityscapes and

     teach at elementary school.




Featured artist on MN Original, 2011.  See: 




Master Circle, awarded by International Association of Pastel Societies, June 2013.

Best of Show, Lake Country Pastel Society 2012 Exhibition - 

      Judge: Christopher Copeland.

Top 10 Pick for 2012 Spring St. Paul ArtCrawl

Judge's Award, 2012 Red Wing Plein Air and Music Festival -

     Judge: Kami Polzin.

Purchase Award, Grand Marais Art Colony 2011 Plein Air


Juried Exhibition, Minnesota State Fair, Fine Art Exhibition.

Co-Best of Show, Winter Plein Air Event, Red Wing Art Association.

Best of Show, St. Paul Winter Carnival Juried Exhibition, Jan. 2011. 

     Juror:  Mary Esch.

First Place in Works on Paper – "09 Grand Marais Plein Air 

     Competition.  Judge:  Andy Evenson.

Third Place - Plein Air on the Zumbro 2009 – Crossings at Carnegie.

     Judge:  Scott Lloyd Anderson.

Award of Excellence – Arts in Harmony 2009 National Juried Exhibit.

Solo Exhibit – Argyle Zebra Gallery, St. Paul – 2007.

Great American ArtWorks Award and Robert Eugene Gustafson

     Memorial Award – juror of awards Albert Handell - MidAmerica

     Pastel Society 2007 Nat. Juried Exhibit.

Award of Excellence – 2006 Northern Showcase Juried Competition.

Honorable Mention for “Four Corners & the Cathedral,”

     juried plein air event and exhibit, Local Color Gallery – 2005.




Bonnie & Friends, Burnsville Performing Arts - 2013.

Arts in Harmony, 2013 National Juried Show.

International Association of Pastel Societies 2012 Web Exhibition.

Arts in Harmony, 2011 National Juried Show.

International Association of Pastel Societies – Brea Gallery, Brea, CA.

     2010 – Jurors: Richard McKinley, Frederick Somers, & Maggie Price.

International Association of Pastel Societies, 2009 Web Exhibition. 

     Juror:  Duane Wakeham.

International Association of Pastel Societies, Biennial Int'l Juried

     Exhibition, Ventana Gallery, Santa Fe – 2009.  Juror:  Douglas Dawson.

International Association of Pastel Societies – 2005 National Juried

     Exhibition at ArtSource Fine Art Gallery, Raleigh, N.C.




Summit View Hospice, NV

Hudson Hospital, WI

Polinski Rehabilitation Center, MN

St. Mary's Hospital, MN

Samaritan Bethany Home, MN




Markleeville Art Gallery, Markleeville, CA (south of South Lake Tahoe)

Crossing at Carnegie, Zumbrota, MN.




On October 20, 2011, the Star Tribune, stated "Pastel painter

     Cheryl LeClair-Sommer beautifully captures Minnesota's many

     seasons with this often overlooked medium."

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