Elegant Orchids by Sharon Smith.
Painted at her family cottage by Lake Magog.
Infinite curiosity; infinite creativity.
By: Sufia Duez
After two phones calls with Sharon Smith, I asked her if we could meet in-person for an interview. Somehow, our long cellular conversations could not give justice to the stories that Sharon eagerly shared with me.
And so we met, and Sharon was ready. Her artwork and documented memories sprawled across the room. The abundance of vibrant paintings of plants and flowers inspired by her travels could transport you to the most majestic of landscapes: India, Bali, and Japan just to name a few of her journeys. The colours almost emitting an odour of rich plant life.
She picks out one of her paintings: mushrooms grown and prepared by her nephew. She says, “They were so good, I just had to paint them!” And I don’t doubt it. Her brush strokes do more than a photograph, they seize your senses as if, for a moment, you can taste the mushrooms too. Whether a painting of wild mushrooms, a bouquet of flowers, or a landscape, Sharon Smith’s paintings are homages to life. She honours what she loves, and the stories behind her artwork affirms her values of being present.
On the other hand, Sharon Smith never forgets. Her artworks are relics of her life. Born and bred in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Smith has been painting since she was 5-years-old and has continued painting ever since. Her earliest of muses continues to inspire her to this day: the family cottage overlooking Lake Magog. She notes: “The cottage is a sacred place to paint” – a family sanctuary that has endured through generations.
However, after foraging through Smith’s immense collection of paintings, it is clear that her artwork is not limited to scenes from her cottage, her travels, or even her own experiences. Rather, her paintings are inspired by human connection. Sharon draws inspiration from a variety of places including books and photos sent to her by family members and friends from their homes and their travels. “Often I take something I like and make it mine.”
Smith has an undeniable zest for life. I ask her if she ever feels frustration or anger when she works on a project. She tells me that she can’t allow herself to indulge in frustration. Instead, she concentrates on the process: “Try to remain positive to keep going.” Sharon admits that she frequently does not get it right the first time, but she works on it persistently until it feels complete. She imparts a personal wisdom: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest ‘til the good is better and the better is best.”
As art has been a lifelong passion, so has education. Sharon Smith studied Fine Arts at McGill University, Education at Concordia University, and received a Teaching Degree from Berkeley University. Moreover, she studied under renowned artists such as Rita Briansky and Ming Ma. Smith actively seeks new challenges and new forms of art making. Her appetite for learning conjointly cultivates with her passion for sharing and teaching. Smith has been teaching children and adults in Quebec and abroad for many years, and she continues to teach today — often teaching multiple generations of a family. She shows me photos of her students’ artworks, documented over the course of decades, many of which she is still in contact with now.
Sharon Smith’s artwork immortalizes the connections she has made in her lifetime. All of her journeys aligning with her passion for learning, teaching, and creating art. Presently, Sharon Smith is involved with NRTEA (National Roundtable for Teacher Education in the Arts). You can learn more about NRTEA here.
“It’s the message that I’m getting from the universe, stay positive, stay grateful, stay hopeful, and that’s what I do.” – Sharon Smith
Follow us on our new Instagram account to see more of Sharon Smith’s artwork.
A new photo or video will become available everyday from June 15 – 21, 2018.