Like most women, Sharon Curran worked hard raising a family, taking care of the home, and building a career as a nurse. And, like most women, suddenly she was older, the children had grown and moved on to live their own wonderful lives, the home needed less attention, and her career was coming to a close. She found herself with a void in her life and time to fill. After years of taking care of others it was time now to find something that inspired her, provided quality me-time, and filled her life with passion again.
It all started when a friend invited her over for an afternoon of painting. The touch of a brush to the canvas was all it took to get her hooked—she found her passion. This was over twenty-five years ago and the passion is still there and only gets stronger each year.
“Plein Air Painting takes me away,” Sharon said. Meaning, when she is painting she escapes into a world of harmonious color, vibrancy, and quality me-time.
Once hooked, Sharon found a whole new world and couldn’t get enough of it. As part of her retirement, she and her husband, found a little place in southern California and became snowbirds. Sharon immersed herself in the arts, visiting museums, studying the masters, and reading books about art. Traveling with her husband, she visited great museums in London, Paris, and Amsterdam and had the pleasure of taking classes in the Edinburgh School of Arts at the National Museum. She would submit her masterpieces into the different competitions and shows...some pieces coming out on top.
As a budding new artist she started taking classes. In Anacortes she found an art instructor and signed up and stayed with her for years. The instructor’s passion for art was contagious and soon there was a steady following of loyal students. When the instructor passed away the small group found themselves momentarily lost without her. Wanting to continue on they started inviting other qualified instructors to continue their education.
This small group transformed over the years into the Salish Sea Plein Air Painters. What started as a small group of art lovers has grown into a larger group spanning the Skagit Valley and beyond. Sharon keeps the group organized, inspired, and motivated. When Sharon returns from the winters in California, members from the Salish Sea Plein Air Painters group get together every Thursday and paint. For twenty-seven Thursdays the group packs up their supplies, puts on the appropriate weather gear and head out to a destination and spend a few hours painting.
During the summer months you may find members of the group painting at local community events. Each year, the group is part of the working artists area at the well-known Anacortes Arts Festival. For two or three days, members find their little spot on the street and paint, interacting with visitors, laughing, and some may even sell a few pieces. For them, it is a weekend of painting, friendship, and laughter.
Now members of the Plein Air of Washington they will join other Plein Air painters, around the state for a visual inspiration provided by Mother Nature.
In the winter months, Sharon heads south to California. She joined the Plein Air Painters of California, belongs to a group of artists that go out and paint in the California landscape, and teaches classes to a group of people in the community center.
“Painting outside is like putting together a puzzle,” Sharon said. She finds the creativity and solving how to paint the landscape fun, challenging, and good for her brain cells.
After painting for so long, she knows the method, has learned a variety of techniques, and has also learned to just let it flow. When she pushes and forces it, the painting will fight back, but when she is in the zone she finds the painting knows just what to do and the scene just falls of the brush, flowing into a beautiful piece of art.
She was told once to paint it now because one day it will be gone. After twenty-five years of painting she firmly believes that and wants to capture that rare moment in time.
Painting is now a dream of a woman strong in determination and passionate about making a difference, while doing what she loves.
By Karla Locke
Author of The Blood Stone Queen and other ebooks, Freelance Writer for Stories from the Front Porch and other publications. Karla shares her passion of the arts and artists, photography, writing, small businesses, and people who live, work, and play with passion.