As Laurel Sherrie's portfolio reveals, with paintings of Hearst Castle, Italian villas, and farm houses, she can paint structures well. But viewing her current exhibit of oil paintings, one is struck by the absence of buildings.
“They're just landscapes, which is really what I love to paint,” she said.
The selection for this show is fitting; the venue is the Land Conservancy office.
Many of the paintings were done alongside fellow members of San Luis Outdoor Painters for the Environment, on properties that the Land Conservancy was involved in preserving.
Although she enjoys the camaraderie of painting with others, Sherrie prefers to grab her paints, hop into her truck with her dogs and head for the hills. Or the coast. Or a lake. Or a woodland. Or pine forests. She paints until the light changes too much to continue. “I would love to be faster,” she said. “I get exhausted, because it's so intense.”
Even though Sherrie takes photographs, and finishes up in her Arroyo Grande studio, she doesn't trust the snapshots. “They lie,” she said. The perspective is off, the shadows are solid. What Sherrie does trust is the human eye and spirit. When she's immersed in an outdoor subject, she sees the different colors in the shadows, shimmers of light, reflections. “When you're there looking at it, you see that, but the camera doesn't,” she said. The photos help her remember the experience of being there and provide a few details.
Although Sherrie has studied art since childhood, been in numerous juried and solo shows, and won awards, she still gets a kick out of twisting her mind around the process.
“The trick is, to take this 3-D scene and put it in this 2-D canvas, and make it look three dimensional,” she said, through balancing color line and value.
Sherrie juggles so many exhibits that she's surprised she can keep track of what is where. “Sometimes I can end up in four different places at once,” she said, stretching from a deli in Arroyo Grande to the Cattlemen's show in Paso Robles. But after a friend brought it to her attention, she realized she'd played leap frog with the county seat. “I tend to have shows all over the place, but not in San Luis,” she said.
That's when she contacted the Land Conservancy. Its office, in the heart of town in the historical 1885 Victorian Katetzel House, provides plenty of wall space and lighting to show off the paintings, plus the non-profit organization participates in Art After Dark. As with SLOPE shows and other fundraisers, Sherrie donates a percentage of sales to the land trust.
It's been a year since Sherrie's art was featured in SkyWest magazine and the cover of Vine Times. Those honors lifted her spirits sky high, but she remains grounded, continuing to capture scenes of the California coast.