Focus Artist: Sharon Yates

Today is the last day to stop into the gallery to see artist, Sharon Yates' work on display and I really hope you will find the time to stop in. Until then, I was lucky enough to present some questions to Sharon about her work and I am delighted to share her insightful answers with you today. It was a real gift to get a glimpse into her process and inspirations. Enjoy!

We know you are inspired by nature. Can you tell us more about how

your passion and love of nature came to be?

As a small child I was introduced to flowers, especially dahlias by my father. Caring for our yard/garden was his hobby. Never in my mind was the idea of my creating a garden of my own later in life and never did I think I would be painting flowers in my gardn and cows on farms all in Maine close to the sea no less!

Looking back to graduate school in New Orleans, I spent much time in Audubon park drawing zoo animals o the move, a carry over from undergraduate school. At this time I was involved with figurative abstraction-large studio paintings. A severe hurricane took hold of the trees in Audubon Park just before 2nd year classes began.. Overwhelmed by the drama of fallen trees in contrast to the surviving trees I went there to draw every day. From this point on I turned to working representationally in drawing and painting. The dialogue between abstractions and representation began later on in Louisville, Kentucky where I had my first full time teaching appointment. I carried etching plates into the woods and loved being outdoors working directly from nature.

Do you paint en plein air? Can you share with us your process?

Painting, however directly from nature came first from window views. Several works included the figure in complex compositions. By this time, I had relocated to Baltimore, Maryland where I had a full time teaching position in fine arts. Finally in 1970 I received a grant that brought me to the landscape of Virginia for an entire Summer. I was in plein air heaven! Slowly I obtained the appropriate equipment. I would spend several days on an oil painting done in great detail. Sometimes I would use binoculars to enable myself seeing the structure of the tree branches. My curiosity/fascination with nature was endless.

During early years in Maine, I painted the coastal landscape. Continually I attempt to complete a painting in one day believing that the natural conditions and sensation of the experience could never be repeated. Changes in light and weather are particularly challenging and exciting and I do not use photographs or preliminary drawings. I am not interested in reproducing what is exactly in front of my eyes or nailing down a specific time of day or viewpoint. Flowers set in a little jar or a vase of water are a universe of change and the cow/landscape paintings re composites of time and circumstance. Drawn to the unexpected and uncontrollable forces out there I am free to address painting emotionally rather than intellectually.

Are there other artists who have inspired you?

Early on, Michelangelo turned my head around from illustration to sculpture then painting. Since my transition from abstract to working representationally, I have looked at so many marvelous European artists-19th century and earlier-From Titan to Velazquez to the French Barbizon painters and to the Dutch Hague School; and to Courbet, Degas, Cezanne, Turner, Lovis, Corinth, Corot and Constable. Specific cow paintes Paulus Potter, Eugene Boudin and Aelbert Cuyp. Flower and Still Life Painters such as Chardin, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Fantin-Latour, Matisse and Emil Nolde. In 20th Century England, Lucian Freud's view of the world as well as that of Howard Hodgkin and Euan Uglow interests me. In America, Diebenkorn and Dekooning, George Bellows and Sargent are at the top. I admire Cecily Brown among other contemporaries.

You are retired now from teaching at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Have you been enjoying these years with more time for painting?

Retirement from teaching has given me more time for other activities other than painting. This freedom has influenced my painting.

Your work has allowed for travel to many interesting places. Do you

have a place that has inspired you the most?

Traveling to interesting places has inspired me tremendously. Living in Rome, Italy was the most important opportunity. Access to the great museum collections in Europe was incomparable as was the freedom from any outside obligation.

Do you have a favorite piece that is featured in the your exhibit at

the gallery? If so, why?

A few of my favorite painting featured in my current exhibit at the gallery are....

These paintings have looked back at me...while in the process totally absorbed I could not see how much of myself I poured into these surfaces. I sense an exchange of energy between myself and the flowers. In the arms of phenomenal beauty.

Thank you so very much to Sharon Yates for this in-depth look into her life and work. It is an honor to feature her in our gallery. Please visit her artist page of our website for more information on her available paintings.

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