In Sherrie’s first video of this series, she tackles a large still life with a Venus de Milo statue while narrating her progress for the viewer. The stark white figurine against a warm rusted-tin background makes this a particularly beautiful painting idea and, because of its complexity and size, is one she normally would not attempt on camera. But the time had come to film and the setup was too inspiring not to paint it. In this film, you’ll experience an intimate peek into the creative process.
This is not a demonstration; our film allows you to witness the artistic process up close. After determining that the Venus statue is more dramatic than the much subtler Tang horse and rider, Sherrie begins her large setup by composing a mass for the statue so that she can judge its relationship to the background. She shows the viewer that persistence is key in getting what you want and that relentless pursuit of an artistic idea is what separates artists from illustrators. You’ll see how she stops at nothing to capture her concept fully on the canvas.
She describes her idea in the painting and works very abstractly for a long time to make it a visual reality. You’ll see her use of a painting knife to achieve textures only possible on a stretched canvas.
In this continuation of Sherrie’s large still life, the painting idea is evident despite the lack of detail. This is always the goal in a start—to capture a feeling of the finish as quickly as possible. In this way, Sherrie shows how every brushstroke, every scrape and squiggle needs to further the idea; if it doesn’t, it needs to go. To her, becoming precious about a painting is its death knell.
Sherrie moves around the painting, resisting getting stuck in one area. She continually judges whether each brushstroke fulfills the concept. She uses a painting knife to go back and forth, adjusting the positioning of the Chinese lanterns as well as their intensely chromatic color slide. Sherrie steps back to see the painting from a distance quite often, as well as taking time to study the painting along the way.
Midway through the painting, she experiences a struggle with inner voices that are telling her that something isn’t right in the painting. She wipes off the left-hand side when the paint quality and design simply aren’t working for her. She continues to develop the idea. Sherrie shares anecdotes and practical advice from her days working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that is not only informative but also inspirational to those learning to paint.
After working on the painting upside down, in a dramatic show of courage, she ends this section by wiping the painting off entirely while explaining her reasons.
Sherrie makes the statue smaller and places it lower on the canvas to give the composition the scope she initially envisioned. She explains that space makes the objects seem larger and more real because they appear to be in an environment.
The ability to start abstractly is due to her strong drawing skills. Sherrie emphasizes the importance of drawing every day to hone your observation. The painting comes together quickly now that the composition is in accordance with the idea.
Sherrie talks about what the finish entails and discusses her struggles with getting to the finish in her own development. She describes how an artist uses information to guide the eye through the painting, controlling the pace with places of focus. She uses an age-old device of ‘carving out’ shapes to correct the drawing.
Getting a sense of life is, to Sherrie, one of the most amazing things an artist can do. She quickly demonstrates this as her painting begins to seem real, despite its obvious crudeness. She explains how the angles of the cast shadows set the perspective of the painting.
The running explanations of what she is doing are the advantages with adding voice overs later instead teaching while painting—the viewer gets insights that would not have been possible in the throes of the creative struggle. With a calm, detached perspective, Sherrie ends the video knowing that with more time, she will capture her beautiful idea fully to completion.