Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Interview with Sharon Tomlinson-Artist Extraordinare

I love women artists.  They inspire me daily.  I have met the most incredible artists on facebook and one of these talented ladies is Sharon Tomlinson.  I love her work.  It is unique, fun , gorgeous and dynamic.  Probably like it's creator I'm guessing, who was generous enough to take some of her time and respond to my questions about what got her started.  Before I share my questions and her response, let me show you a few pictures of her work..
 I just love the dynamic palette she uses, her original style of mixed media and collage, and her obvious talent with faces..

 This is a softer and more relaxed palette, again using imagery for the overall composition, and leaving the story up to the viewer.
I don't know Sharon well, I am just an admirer of her work, and soon to be student in her new class, "Faces in Collage" which starts November 4, 2011.  Here is her link to find out more

I asked Sharon 5 questions that I as an artist am curious about.  
1. How long have you been making art?
"I guess you could say I have been making art since my oldest was one year old.  He is now 43.  Yes, I am old.  And throughout all those years my art play took me in many directions.  I experienced seeing something and wanting to try it; because, when you are young and have a creative spirit, that is just what you do.   For example, I started with ceramics and tole painting which led me to oil painting. I was a oil painter of landscapes, still life, as well as, the human figure.  I am self taught with the exception of one mentor who shared her studio and talent with me nearly every weekday.  It was during that time that I discovered my passion for sculpture.  Studying how-to books, I became an original doll maker and made my own production molds as well as the wigs and costumes right down to the tiny one inch leather shoes.  I think that was the first time that I realized I had a creative passion about something. However, doll making, my way, from the lump of clay to the tiny shoes was so time consuming that during my children's teenage years, I had to put the lump of clay down for a while.  Then I joined my husband in our insurance business.  All that being said, I took about a 20 year break from my art.  However, my creative spirit could not be squelched totally.  One example is during that time I was involved with community theater where I wore all the hats of a community volunteer including, painting many huge backdrops for the theater productions. 

Then, about 5 years ago, I discovered a new passion.  The discovery of collage, mixed media and altered books on the Internet knocked me over.  I don't even remember why I started using acrylic paints as I had never used them before.  But I feel the passion and no matter what I am doing, I must have a brush in my hand.  More than that, I must be painting faces.  Faces are my passion."

 2.  How long did it take for you to find your unique style?
"Well, I have been making art for so many years and I'm sure my style has been evolving.  But I actually feel like my style today has only been developing this past five years.  I think a unique style develops when you have such a passion for something that you just keep doing it over and over and over.  
And you let yourself grow by being fearless and experimenting. And you daydream about it when you are not doing it. In my case, "faces" being part of my passion, I can't even watch a TV program without looking at mouths and eyes and noses and getting lost.  I even see faces in patterns and texture when there are no real faces. I think your unique you shows up when you get lost in the process.  I think it's about passion."
 3.  Do you consider yourself successful?
"Yes, I do. 
I have so many successes: almost 50 years of marriage; two beautiful grown children who gave us four grandchildren; my health; and our business.
I also consider my creative self successful.  I sell my art and have a great online art teaching business that is very successful.  My newest class, Faces In Collage, starts November 7th."

 4. Where do you get your ideas?
"I find and see and hear inspiration everywhere and anywhere.  I'm not looking to see the whole or finished next painting.  Sometimes, I hear the quietest whisper that snags my imagination and is all I need to "start".  You just have to start and know that you are an artist and you have been inspired. And then after you have started, keep listening because and you will get inspiration for the next brush stroke.  And the next. And the next. My new class tag line is "images inspire the story". I think that relates to your question because it is the real images, as well as, the minds eye images and images from our memory that all get stirred around and give us our imagination that becomes the story."
5. Do you have a loud critic at your back, if so how do you manage it?
"I know him. But he has been pretty quiet lately. I'm not sure why.  Maybe ignoring him long enough worked and that gave me some confidence.

Thank you Sharon.  Thank you for sharing yourself with me, and my friends, for inspiring me and helping me grow.  I know so much more about you now, and I look forward to watching your career unfold.  I am simply in awe of how women in the arts collaborate instead of compete.  It's utterly refreshing to ask such personal questions about the artistic process and get in depth answers within a day's time.  Sharon Tomlinson is a class act and I am thrilled to be able to showcase such a talented artist.


  1. I'm signed up for her class, also! Thank you for this interview - Now, I feel like I know her! Nancy Eaton

  2. Great interview. I'm proud to be her student, she has tought me sooo much, and a proud owner of her original art. My life has changed since i've taken my first online class, Sharon's Norah's faces.

  3. Didn't know about "Hip Chick" til I saw the link on "Norah's" site. So good to find you here in cyberspace and all the fun stuff you share on your blog.

    ~Sharon (at e14studio)

  4. Great interview. I've been following Sharon for a while & took her first faces class. She's a wonderfully generous instructor.
    Thanks for writing this great interview.

  5. awesome interview with an awesome lady:O)

  6. Thank you for sharing this interview with Sharon. I love her art & blog. So inspiring!! I have found your blog. I love it! I swoon for tutus and art. :)

  7. Hi Carrie, I left you a comment early this morning. My eyes were barely open. Anyway, It never showed up. I don't know what I did. And I don't remember what I said except thank you so much for writing this and saying the really nice things about me. Problem is, my hat is not fitting today cause you gave me "the big head". And I'm looking forward to knowing you more and more. And thanks for signing up for the class.

  8. Carrie,
    Great article on Sharon. I have been her student for one yr. I have learned so soo much from her.
    Her art tell stories.. Many stories!
    It shows passion, femininity, love outdoors,. She is my 'bestest person".. I hear you and agree with you whole heartedly.
    Thank you for posting this for Sharon.
    She is more then worthy!

  9. Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview!! I found it so interesting! I love to see how artist evolve, especially self taught ones!! Sharons faces are always so unique and interesting!! I am in awe of her work!!

    Hugs Giggles

  10. Huge Sharon fan here and also an owner of one of her originals:) Great reading this interview Carrie! Much enjoyed!