Dialogue with a Spirit (charcoal, oil pastel and acrylic, 18×28) by Sharon Stolzenberger was an Animal/Wildlife finalist in the 25th Annual Art Competition. Stolzenberger is our October 2009 Artist of the Month.
Residence: Kettering, Ohio
Start in art: I graduated from the School of the Dayton Art Institute and worked in commercial art for Gibson Greetings for a while. I’m now a full-time artist.
Genre and mediums: I work in watercolor, acrylic and mixed media, and wildlife is my main focus. My typical palette includes the earth colors such as burnt sienna, raw sienna, umbers, sepia and brown madder alizarin. For blues, I use French ultramarine, cobalt blue and indigo.
Much of my inspiration recently has come from crows, which have a graphic quality about them. They’re intelligent, mischievious and a little mysterious.
When I do demonstrations, I try to have a live model on hand when possible. I like having an opportunity to talk about the animal while painting it, and having a llama walk into a classroom is quite an attention-getter. I’ve used skunks, opossums and hawks as models, too.
About this painting: Dialogue with a Spirit sat unfinished in my studio at least six months because it wasn’t speaking to me and I didn’t know how to finish it. Finally, in exasperation, I pushed through my intimidation of the piece and freely re-worked the crows and loosely laid in the textures. I just let go of my preconceived ideas about how to tie the birds in with the background. Relaxing and letting the piece evolve on its own was exciting as I could see it all pull together. I love the action and the layered texture of the paint surface.
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