In the springtime, when some people’s thoughts turn lightly to rototilling the garden and outsmarting the latest frost date, wildlife painter Pam Sharp packs up and travels. Participating in art festivals and shows throughout the country, the watercolor artist reaches a national and international clientele taking advantage of sunny days (one hopes) to stroll through a temporary city of tents and awnings filled with fine art and crafts.
“Last year I did 17 art shows on the road,” Sharp says. “It takes a crew to set up and tear down a display, and I am very lucky to have my husband’s support. He provides the before and after show moving and carrying and hauling.”
Thanks to the hard work it takes to transport what is effectively a gallery’s worth of art, the Kennewick, WA, painter has collectors throughout the world, including Japan, Australia, England and Germany, as well as residents of most of the states of the Union. A primary benefit of selling directly to the public, she maintains, is the ability to meet collectors in person, with the opportunity to, over the years, get to know them better.
“This is the reason I have chosen to focus on art festivals,” Sharp explains. One of the most prestigious — and challenging to jury into –venues she attends is the Sun Valley Arts Festival (Ketchum, ID), where only 13 painters are accepted. For the last four years, Sharp has been one of those decidedly not unlucky, and highly sought after, 13.
Horses, birds, wildlife — the world of fauna is the one that most fascinates Sharp, who describes the first stage of her art career starting when she was five, insistent upon drawing horses.
“Horses have always been my first love and will always be incorporated in my art portfolio.”
Life, and a career outside of art intervened until 1998, when the now-grown five-year-old was prompted to revisit her childhood love of drawing at an art society meeting.
“Being clueless on the art business and the challenges, I dove in and have been swimming ever since,” Sharp says.
“I chose watercolor as an affordable medium in which to explore. Little did I know at the time, watercolor is one of the most challenging mediums to master.”
Either there’s too much water on the paper, or too little; or the paper itself is too absorbent, or not absorbent enough; or the paint dries too fast, or too slow, or it dribbles vertically when not expected to, and stays put when the artist really wants it to expressively drizzle, which may be because the brush is holding too much paint, when 30 minutes ago it refused to hold enough.
“Mastering watercolor is not for the person who needs instant gratification, but is one where perseverance and patience pays off — especially patience,” Sharp observes.
Self-taught and constantly learning, Sharp has garnered a distinguished repertoire of awards, including Best Watercolor at the Saratoga, WY, Art Festival; Banker’s Choice at the Torrington, WY, Two-Shot Art Festival; and Best Watercolor at the High Peaks Art Festival of Nederland, CO. Within the challenging, and potentially frustrating, medium of Sharp’s choice, the final art piece may be a mixture of water-based mediums such as gouache, wax pastels, water-soluble oils, or inks, all of which add their own demands to the final piece.
In addition to producing original paintings, Sharp creates prints, cards, and T-shirts featuring her art, selling through her website, Prairie Skullpture, a place where “attitude and art are skillfully blended together in watercolor and mixed media.” She offers her printing services to other artists, as well as sponsors a mentor program to help artists, and would-be-artists, achieve their goals.
It all adds up to a full-time job, the seeds of which were planted in the dreams of a five-year-old, and bloom into fruition under the warm sun of a festival day.
Contact the 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 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.
Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists. Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.
This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.