Westmont Magazine The Practice of Painting Daily
In the golden early morning light, Sharon Williams Schock ’06 sets out with a camera. She explores streets and shores, parks and landmarks, seeking inspiration and appealing locations. When she finds one, she sketches and snaps photos.
Returning to the small studio in her Carpinteria condo, she creates a painting from her pictures, something she does every working day of her life. In natural light streaming through a big window and reflected in a wall-sized mirror, she mixes oil paints. Holding a six-by-six-inch masonite board in her hand, she twists it around as she works on the image. In an hour or two, she’s done. “Finishing a painting in one sitting keeps it consistent,” she says. “Constantly starting and stopping a piece creates a disconnect.”
The first time Sharon heard about the daily painting movement, it appealed to her. She knew she needed to paint as much as possible to develop as an artist. But working on a large canvas took months and kept her from experimenting. “Producing a small painting every day means I don’t make a big commitment to a piece,” she says. “I can try out different subjects, textures and composition. I can paint more with more variety, and more practice improves my work.”
Santa Barbara provides ideal scenes for Sharon. She depicts cityscapes, landscapes and architecture. She loves the beach and the harbor. Her works feature boats, birds, streets, restaurants, palm trees and fruit. “I paint what’s around me, what’s familiar,” she says.
She pays attention to detail. By painting on masonite boards she can create her own texture and make her brushstrokes visible. Canvas doesn’t give her that flexibility.
When Sharon and her husband, Zach, moved to Carpinteria in April 2010, she began painting every day. “It’s like any other job,” she says. “Some days are better than others. You just have to do it.” In the past year and a half, she has completed close to 500 paintings, working five or six days a week. She always takes Sundays off. In her daily blog (www.sharonschock.com), she posts the latest painting with a brief description and lists the piece for sale on Etsy. Sometimes she sells paintings by auction. She plans her subjects a week in advance and works ahead so she always has a daily painting to share.
Sharon majored in art at Westmont and values the training she received. But she didn’t paint much as a student. She dislikes acrylic paint because it feels like plastic to her. Oil paints, which are toxic, weren’t available on campus. She focused instead on watercolors and digital painting, the medium she adopted for her senior project. She still paints in watercolors on occasion because it makes her think backwards. “With oil, you start with dark colors and move to lighter ones,” she says. “But in watercolors, you start with light and move to dark. It’s good to mix it up and think differently.
Selling her work continues to surprise Sharon. “I never thought I could support myself as an artist,” she says. To date, people as far away as Australia have bought more than 400 of her paintings. She also exhibits her paintings in several galleries in the Santa Barbara area and participates in local arts-related events and organizations.
“God gave me a gift,” she says. “I need to be faithful in using it, and He will bless it — He already has.”