Sharon Harms, began pursuing painting professionally in 2020 after retiring from a 47-year career as an award-winning graphic designer and art director. Her work is heavily influenced by her time working in the advertising business where she honed her skills as a visual communicator and storyteller. Although she has taken an introductory college painting class, she is basically a self-taught artist. Her paintings have been selected by juries in several regional and national competitions. Sharon currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
I create highly realistic paintings of still lifes composed of objects placed together to form a narrative. I approach my work like an explorer looking for meaning in the physical world through the things people interact with. As artifacts of human evolution, objects hold symbolic meaning connected to history, culture, beliefs, and subjective experience. When placed together, the objects take on new more complex meanings that allow me to examine a wide variety of emotions and ideas. To create my still lifes, I first choose an object that intrigues me, then intuitively place other objects around it with the intention of finding a story. I don’t force the subject matter or composition and the stories that emerge are often a surprise, even to me.
What initially drew you to your medium/media of choice?
I worked as an art director and graphic designer for over 40 years, meticulously crafting imagery that would engage viewers through two-dimensional surfaces like posters and magazine ads. Painting in oil was a natural extension of that work. Because the drying time is so slow, I’m able to achieve a lot of detail and simulate subtle shifts of light to create a near photographic image.
What aspect of your art do you hope really comes across to your audience?
People are really drawn to the photorealistic aspect of my paintings but my hope is that they spend time considering the objects I’ve chosen for the composition. The content in my paintings tell a story through the symbolism of man-made objects. I see my work as an invitation to find personal connections to the narratives.
Who inspires you in your life, whether it be artistically or otherwise?
I’m inspired by artists, makers, and doers. People who have an idea or desire to create something and push through adversity and doubt to achieve their vision.
What keeps you going as an artist? Where do you find that creative drive?
The act of painting is meditative for me. It grounds me and provides a means for self discovery. I’m interested in finding out where the next story takes me and how it changes my perspective.
Tell us about your primary goal for the future. Has this goal changed over time?
I’m fairly new to professional art making, so honing my painting skills has been a priority and something that will continue to be a major goal. More importantly, I am working toward finding a stronger and more personal artistic voice. I would also like to get representation with a gallery in a top art market.