I first had the absolute pleasure of meeting Shari Sherman in The Artist's Way class, held weekly for 13 weeks as we followed along in Julia Cameron's masterful book. As our friendship has grown so has my deep appreciation for her as a person and an artist. Shari is a very talented professional artist, a book illustrator, and a licensed artist all while being a super mom to a very lovely little girl. It's not easy and she will be the first one to tell you that. In keeping with the spirit of sharing, I interviewed her to unlock some of her secrets. Enjoy! When did you first start creating? Have you always been an artist?
I think my identity as an artist was first defined in elementary school. I was "the art girl", winning awards and poster contests, sitting in the back of the class working on art projects like signs and transparencies for the teacher. I've always been comfortable thinking of myself as an artist.It wasn't until much later that I learned about the expectations that people have for you when you call yourself an artist.In the beginning it is as simple as...if you create art, then you are an artist. As you get older, it can be complicated...then the art has to be "good" to justify calling yourself an artist. I try not to get involved in that. I just keep creating and paying attention to my own artistic path. Can you describe your process for your paintings? I get ideas all the time from everywhere, from everyday life. Ideas come to me from conversations, my pets, my little girl...I think one of the most important things to learn is to let your ideas flow and try not to censor them before they have a chance to grow.Once I have an idea simmering, I then select the size of canvas that I want to work with. I am comfortable working on large canvases, over 4 feet, as well as small ones all the way down to 4 inches. I let the idea be the determining factor of how big or little to go.Next, I almost always do an underpainting, usually of black gesso, but I also use phthalo blue or diox purple, and lately I've been attracted to orangey reds like cad red. Next, I will do a light sketch with chalk pastel or watercolor pencil, laying out where I want my elements to go. Occasionally, I'll do preliminary sketches in a sketchbook, but more often than not I will just go straight to the canvas. Then I just dig in. I like bright colors and my subject matter iswhimsical.I'm a natural colorist, mixing my colors by instinctto get what I want. I use acrylics in lots of layers and almost all of my paintings have some form of words incorporated, either hand painted, or now that I'm embracing my mixed media side, it could be computer generated font or book clippings, or even Scrabble pieces. I almost always finish my paintings with a clear gloss varnish. Since acrylics are plastics themselves, they don't really need protection. I just like the way the gloss really highlights and brings out the color of the paint. And that's about it.Oh, and then I take pictures or scan the image. Always, always, remember to do this. What artists or persons have been the biggest influence on your art?
It's hard to narrow this down.I'm influenced by whatever inspires me and that changes quite often.As far as fine art, I love Gauguin. For modern illustration, Mary Engelbreit. And for mixed media, Kelly Rae Roberts.
What advice would you give to a beginning artist? Be true to yourself.Do what you want to do.Make whatever art you feel inspired to make. Don't be influenced by expectations of others. What has helped you through the ups and downs of owning your own art business? I'm grateful to my husband for believing in me, my daughter for inspiring me, and my creative friends for nurturing my growth as an artist.Sometimes, the business of art can bog down the inspiration, but I choose to look at it as a challenge, and when I figure something out, the business side can be exciting too.It's important to remember that we are all learning. Even the people who seem to have it all figured out are still learning.At the end of the day, I keep my art business going because it's what I still feel like striving for...it's less about what I do, and more about who I am. Anything else you want to say that I have not asked: I just want to say Thank You! I'm honored to be interviewed by the amazing and talented VP Miller. You're an inspiration to me, and I'm thankful for this opportunity to inspire some fellow artists out there.I truly believe the world could be transformed if we all fully embraced our creativity without fear. And now just for fun... list 3 things people don't know about you: 1. I'm half Scottish, half Filipino. A lot of people tend to think I'm Spanish, but I'm not. 2. I was a heavy metal head growing up. I loved Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, and Van Halen. I even dyed a blond streak in my hair in high school to resemble Joe Perry's from Aerosmith. 3. My very first job was working at a meat market. As I look back on it, it was a pretty gross job. List 3 favorite songs: Dream On by Aerosmith, Better Together by Jack Johnson, and Be OK by Ingrid Michaelson. And anything by the Beastie Boys. List 3 favorite foods: Pizza, sushi, and Bang-Bang shrimp from Bonefish Grill. What projects do you see yourself working on in the future? I am really getting into working with mixed media. I love the limitlessness of it. Anything goes. I want to pursue more of that, maybe get a mixed media group together here in the Orlando area. Also, I'm working oninspirational art book that's kind of an ongoing project for me. I have so many ideas...I want to inspire others to pursue their creativity, to go for their dreams.