This week, NH Watercolorists set up an exhibit at Breaking New Grounds, in Portsmouth. Coffee and art has never looked this great together before.
I met Sharon through our joint love of outdoor painting, when I discovered her NH Plein Air group for the local artists. Her many talents are well worth sharing, and if you don’t yet, I hope you follow her facebook page, listed at the end of this interview.
What has been your path to becoming an artist?
I have drawn and painted for as long as I can remember. My mom worked and I would sit at my Grandmother’s kitchen table and color or paint in one of those old “paint with water” books while she ironed or made dinner. In 3rd grade my teacher gave me an F on an art project because “no 3rd grader could draw that well” (parental intervention with the school resulted). As I got older, I would trace over items in magazines and newspapers to get an understanding of how the line feels, then draw it on whatever paper was available. When teaching, I created many of my own bulletin boards and also did the drawings for floats in our annual town parade. I didn’t become “an artist” until much later. I’d been taking ceramics classes at 2 studios and had household utility items (butter dishes, lamps, teapots, etc) in several gift shops, then both teachers retired at the same time and I needed a new creative outlet. That was around 1998. While in my son’s dentist’s waiting room, I found an ad for adult art classes with what turned out to be one of the best art teachers in existence, and here I am – all because of her instruction and encouragement. I’ve taken many workshops and classes with other artists as well.
What mediums have you experimented with? What is your favorite?
I have worked in acrylics, colored pencil, charcoal, crayons, india ink, oils, pastels, and watercolors. I’ve dabbled in sculpture with a variety of clay types and have tried wood carving and wood block printing. On the craftier side of the arts I also crochet, glass paint, knit, latchhook, needlepoint, sew, and do wood burning, and have also done quilling, quilting, and scherenschnitte.
With painting, I love each of the mediums in different ways. When painting en plein air, oil is my go-to medium. I love pastels because they are the easiest for me and work up quickly, but I hate the dust. But when it comes down to it, watercolor is my first love because I love the flow and how you can be simultaneously loose and free and then tight in the same picture.
Do you have a creative routine?
HA! Not really. I don’t actually have a studio, although I’ve designated a small space for that purpose in my home but it’s barely a workable space and I work most frequently at the kitchen table (if it’s clear) which means that I can’t leave projects set up for multiple sessions. That’s one reason that I’m primarily a plein air painter – I get OUT to paint!
Many artists go through stages when they favor a certain medium or topic. What stage are you in now?
Oil. No wait – watercolor. Ummm … it varies from season to season (watercolor “calls” me in Summer) and from piece to piece. Some scenes just practically beg to be pastel while others say “Pssst – do me in watercolor!”
As to topic, I’m primarily a landscape painter but have also done some portrait, pet portrait, and house portrait work. I’m not a fan of still life, but have done some of those as well. It all depends on what “calls” me at any given moment. For example, I did a still life of water glasses on a dinner table because the play of candle light on the glasses and the colors of the reflections were so intriguing!
What is the best acknowledgement as an artist have you ever received? Has there been a particular award, show, or a comment that made you feel accomplished?
I have won awards for my acrylics (including a best in show in acrylic), pastels, and watercolors and also for my ceramics way back then. Sometimes being accepted into an important juried show feels as good as winning an award, and definitely having a major gallery email for advice because “we know that you’re the go-to person in that field” feels really good!
Do you have any exhibits or shows coming up?
I almost always have exhibits or shows coming up! I’ll be at Art & Antiques on the Green in New London in late June, in the “Beyond the Visible” exhibit at Azure Rising Gallery in Wolfeboro in July, at The Fells Artist Weekend in July, at the Sunapee Landing Trading Company Fine Art Exhibition in August, at Stroke of Art at Harborfest in Boothbay Harbor in September, and at the VINS Plein Air Festival in late September. I’m also part of the NHPleinAir Artists group exhibit at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway and plan to enter the upcoming show of the Mt. Washington Valley Art Association. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something!
What advice can you give to anyone considering career path in the arts?
Learn the business end of an art career as well – the marketing, the business cards, the networking, the display techniques. Then make sure you have another source of income, supplement your art sales income by teaching if you can, be choosy about where you allow your work to be displayed, don’t give your art away for free, and avoid auctions. Beware of events that try to lure you with “great exposure.”
Do you offer classes or workshops?
I do not currently offer classes or workshops as I don’t have a space to teach. I did private classes at students’ homes for awhile, but transporting all the supplies necessary is too cumbersome and there are often interruptions so I don’t do that anymore.
How can someone get in touch with your, if they would like to place a commission or visit your studio?
I don’t have a studio to visit, but patrons are welcome to spend the day on plein air outings! To commission a painting it’s always best to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I prefer to work on location and from my own photos, but I will also work from a client’s own photos to create a painting for them.
My Facebook Page is: https://www.facebook.com/SharonE.AllenFineArt/
I also have a variety of home décor reproductions, everything from “prints” to phone covers, to duvet covers and shower curtains and everything in between at: