Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interview 8: Sharon Tomlinson

Last month, I requested an interview with Sharon Tomlinson of All Norah's Art. I was absolutely thrilled when she said YES! My artist path changed immediately when she responded
"The one I'm laughing about is the "What's the point" jerk. That little SOB lives some where in my studio and jumps on my shoulder after EVERY painting. "
REALLY? I hadn't imagined someone whose art takes my breath away could be dealing with that little pain in the butt. I thought it was just me because I was so bad :). But knowing that someone I admire so greatly deals with the same junk I do, made me feel instantly better.

Her blog is a delightful mix of pretty'ness and phun, wisdom and whimsy with Sharon's cool personality shining through every bit. She is as beautiful as her art!

Sharon recently began offering a class (see top right side of her blog). I haven't taken it, but I've read very good reviews.

The past:

How long have you been arting?

That would be hard to say. I think I have always been creative in some way or other. I remember making doll clothes and stuff like that. I also remember my third grade teacher made comments on my report cards about me "day dreaming out the window". I still do that especially when inspiration is churning inside of me. Having said all of that, I remember specifically when my son was about one year old in 1969, I started tole painting and making ceramics. I would say that was the beginning of my obsession of having to have a brush in my hand.

Have you always hearted your art or did you struggle to do so?

I surely must have struggled but I don't have a memory of that. I do remember looking back at my art from time to time and being surprised. Surprised that when I first made the art I thought it was good only to discover "in the moment" that it was not. I still do that; however, now I recognize it as growth and learning.

Has there ever been a time when you stopped arting?

Yes, in the mid 80s, when my children were teenagers, I pretty much stopped my art passion. But my creativity still came out in things I did with them. For example, my son was interested in photography and so we had a darkroom and enjoyed that type of creativity. Also, my daughter was a high school cheerleader and I enjoyed designing and making cheer leading outfits....12 at a time. I also participated in the local theatre for many years. I did everything from acting, directing to painting huge sets and backdrops. Talk about a paint brush in your hand! I used four inch foam brushes and house paint to paint 24 feet by 20 feet backdrop scenes sometimes perched on a 20 foot step ladder. It was very exciting and rewarding to paint on that grand scale.

If so, how long was it before you returned?

I started art as I know it today in the spring of 2006.

How did you begin again?

I was reading blogs. It started with garden blogs and then some of them also told about their quilting. Then one day I landed on a mixed media blog and started hopping from link to link. I was amazed with my discovery. I had a lifetime of various art passions but I had never done anything considered mixed media. A new passion was born.

Family and Friends:

Is (or was) your family supportive of you and your art?

I would say that my confidence in my art was instilled by my Father. I don't remember the words or how he taught me, but I learned from him that I could do anything that I wanted to do. My husband is supportive but not in a verbal way. He being a man of few words. My children are proud.

How about friends (past and present)?

I have had many friends who were very supportive. One in particular during the time before I stopped in the mid 80s was also an artist and she and I enjoyed painting together and learning from each other. Another friend who fits the past and present category thinks I can do anything. When we first met in the 80s, I impressed her with my own tool box. She still remembers that and is a great supportive friend. There are many others.

How much influence has your experiences with family and friends had on your own feelings about your art?

No doubt, there support and encouragement has an effect. I'm sure I have tried and accomplished many things just because my father thought I could.

Outside Influence:

How much influence does ‘the outside’ have on your feelings about your art?

I don't think I am influenced by the outside. Of course positive feedback fuels me. However, I don't seem to hear negative comments or feedback. Now I can't say, there is none. I'm just saying I don't hear it.

How do you deal with your art not selling?

When I have a piece of art that does not sale, I think the right person hasn't seen it yet. For example one of my Sister Reunion paintings about stringing dreams and memories together sat in my Etsy shop for a couple of months. Then one day, the right person saw it and after she purchased it, she sent me an email to tell me why that particular painting meant so much to her. It was as though, the painting was her story and meant only for her. And when she saw it she knew it was meant for her.

The Now:

What is your current experience with hearting your art?

I currently heart everything that I paint. And I heart the feeling after each grand painting that "this one's the best".

Do you still struggle and what do you do?

Sure, there is a point of "struggle" to work through with each piece. But I've learned that you have to keep going and work through it.

How do you survive the moment and continue arting?

For me, if there is a struggle, it is while painting a particular piece. I have learned to expect the conflict and be ready to work through it. I would say that many times the conflict is when I had expectations about the piece. I have learned to start without "expectations" and let the painting speak to me as I enjoy to creative moment.

Do you have a process for your inner critic?

I'm not sure but I surely must. I can tell you that I have a process for "your" inner critic should we be in a teacher/student situation. Me being the teacher and you being the student with that little critic sitting there telling you stuff. I run to the nearest door or window shouting for her to GET OUT and leave you alone. I go on and on, it's obscene, but it works. The whole group learns quickly that those little naysayers are not welcome.

Do you know the ‘what’s the point’ jerk? How do you deal with him?

This question made me laugh. I had no idea that little jerk was known by anyone except me. He is not to be confused with that 'inner critic jerk'. The 'what's the point jerk' visits me often. When I'm all done and so very pleased with myself and my painting and think once again it is the best one yet, he jumps up in my face. I don't have an answer as to how I deal with him, I just find it confusing and have spent many hours pondering the question, what's the point. I could give you a whole list of answers to his question; however, I think I have narrowed down to one answer. The point is to please me. To give me enjoyment. To make me happy. That's all.


  1. what an awesome interview. Thank You!

  2. Thank you so much for this interview. I loved it!


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