Creative, imaginative people do not limit themselves.
They are constantly trying out new things, perfecting existing skills, looking forward and ahead to the next project, the next idea, the next step, all while intensely focusing on what they are presently doing. Because of this dynamic, energetic attitude, creative, imaginative people tend to be active as opposed to passive. They do things.
This is the paradigm around which Sharley Schenk has built her art adventure. While the Clarkston, WA, painter is presently focused on pastels, she does not limit herself, and never has.
“I am not bound by any one medium,” Schenk says. “Each medium has a character that tends to make me want to play with multiple mediums.”
Imaginative Play with Scissors and Magazines
It’s appropriate that she uses the word, “play,” because that’s how the whole journey started, years ago when she was five years old.
“My mother gave me the blunt scissors made for children and an old magazine to cut pictures out of. From there, I branched out into making doll clothes for paper dolls I cut out of magazines and the newspaper. My next adventure was drawing Donald duck, Pluto, and other Disney characters from the Sunday paper.”
Some years later, she attended Cass Tech High School, in Detroit, MI, which specialized in furthering students’ interest in special, and imaginative, subjects like art.
“You had to take a test to get into it: I qualified and was accepted. It was like a college in that you majored in specific fields.
“I chose costume design and commercial art. If I had gone on to college in Michigan, I would have entered as a junior — Cass Tech had that good of a reputation.”
Taking a Break, but Still Creating
Like many women in the immediate post-World-War-II era, Schenk took a break to raise a family, so she wasn’t able to spend as much time with art as she would have liked. That didn’t mean, however, that she wasn’t creating with whatever time she found. Through the years, Schenk has explored pottery, photography, bronze sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, jewelry, knitting, card making, quilting and photography, this latter including developing her own black and white prints.
But it wasn’t until 1992, when she retired from the Idaho Transportation Department where she worked as a draftsperson, that she got back into painting and the imaginative vistas it opened up.
“I heard about a class of scratch board that Judy Fairley was going to give, so I signed up. I have been taking Judy’s classes in scratch board and pastel ever since, as well as workshops put on at the Valley Art Center, spring and fall. There are also challenging options with acrylics on YouTube with the new acrylic pour experiments. It’s amazing what you can do with a balloon or a piece of plastic.”
Small Studio, Many Projects
Schenk’s studio consists of a space on her kitchen table in her apartment. Materials and supplies she stores in the walk-in closet, another closet in the spare bedroom, and a dresser behind the door in her closet. Despite the limited space, she creates on a daily basis, allowing the subject matter to determine the medium. If she is drawing animals, she’ll choose scratch board or pastel. Landscapes encompass pastel, watercolor, or acrylics. And her recent foray into painting rocks involved a radically different substrate than canvas or panel.
A member of the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, Schenk shows her work in both the Center’s front and back galleries. She also participates regularly in three shows a year there: Art for the Heart, the February Valentine Show; Open Artist Show in June; and the Miniature Show in November.
The journey of adventure, one that started a long time ago, began with an imaginative mother who wasn’t afraid to give her child a pair of blunt edged scissors. The child took it from there, and hasn’t stopped since.
Contact Wenaha Gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.