This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Island Boy by Sheldon Saint
Brian Sherwin: Sheldon, you were a September 2010 BoldBrush Painting Competition Finalist for Outstanding Watercolor-- selected by the FAV jury. Why did you decide to enter the BoldBrush Painting Competition? Can you describe your reaction upon learning that you had been selected as a finalist?
Sheldon Saint: I thought about entering the competition a few weeks prior to submitting four pieces. I was shocked when I learned that they were in the FAV 15% and very excited when I discovered "Island Boy" was a finalist. I was surprised when I found out my painting actually captured the Outstanding Watercolor Award.
BS: As you know, the BoldBrush Painting Competition is run by the people behind FASO artist websites. Have you used FASO’s service? What attracted you to FASO in general?
SS: My wife and I had been working on my website for quite a while, but found it to be very time consuming. Finding and asking someone to do it also did not work. I emailed the FASO link to a nephew who has some knowledge about web design (his schedule did not permit him to assist me). He had a look at it and felt as if they (FASO) were legitimate, but I still didn't get around to building my web site for several months. It is unbelievably easy to build a web site with FASO! I did a few pages on my site within two hours!
BS: Tell us about your art background-- for example, do you have formal training in art or do you consider yourself self-taught?
SS: I am often asked if I have any formal training and folks are usually surprised when I mention that I'm self taught. I've spent many years reading and studying instructional books. In fact, even after twenty years of developing my skills, I still find myself reminiscing as I browse through some of them.
I did try a correspondence course, but they were teaching me the fundamentals of art, outline drawing, basic shapes etc. and at the time I'd been producing works in oil. Needless to say, the course was a waste of my time and I learned nothing In 1999 and 2007 I attended The Portrait Society of America Conference in Washington DC and received a lot of valuable tips during the workshops.
BS: Can you tell us about your creative process and your studio practice in general?
SS: Initially I only worked with oils, but I developed an allergic reaction to them and had to learn (teach myself) how to use watercolors. My oil paintings are done with water-soluble oils. My day begins at 4:00am with prayer and then I get into the creative process which involves digging through references, sketching or working on a painting.
At times a painting may take just a few days to produce, depending on the size and subject matter, while others may take a few weeks. Applying up to fifteen layers of transparent paint to achieve a desired result is very time consuming. I presently have a piece hanging in my studio that I've been working on for two years, but its not due to the application of paint. If I'm not pleased with something in the painting I'll either put it away, hang it on the studio wall or throw it away.
BS: What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you directly?
SS: Initially Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, Degas, Manet and at times Van Gogh and Cezanne have all inspired me. Today I'm drawn to John Singer Sargent, but I'm greatly influenced by the works of Stephen Scott Young, whom I had the privilege of him critiquing my work on two occasions while visiting Grand Bahama. Ten years ago he signed and gave me a book that contains reproductions of his work, a book that is now worn with its pages falling out because I can't keep it closed while working on one of my paintings.
BS: When people view your artwork what do you hope that they take from the experience? In other words, is there a specific message that you strive to convey?
SS: When you're in Freeport, Grand Bahama it feels like a city I guess, but I try to stay away from the city way of life and show the viewing audience the simple Island way of life.
To learn more about Sheldon Saint, visit his website at sheldonsaint.com. To learn more about the BoldBrush competition please visit canvoo.com/boldbrush.
Take care, Stay true,