Story and Photography by Ken Levy
Dreamy, moody and intimately personal, the tonalist paintings of Sherri Carter transcend merely capturing a place or a landscape. They become deeply emotional expressions of what she feels about what she’s seen.
The Eagle oil painter describes her current work as tonal landscapes.
“They’re very soft and neutral tones,” she said. “They’re very emotional because they have those subdued tones. It’s more what I feel when I’m sitting in front of what I’m looking at, it’s the emotional connection for me, and I want my clients to feel like that when I make a painting.”
Examples include paintings she’s working on inspired by Bainbridge Island, Wash., where scenes capture the play of sunlight mingling with soft mists. She spent a month there, painting and sketching.
Carter captures the essence of what she feels on location, but returns to the studio to create and refine larger, more intimate works. She recently returned from 12 days of painting in Sedona, Ariz., where she attended a workshop by Stuart Shills.
“He’s a little bit more abstract and contemporary, which I think is the direction I’m going,” she said. “Every year I see my work get a little bit more contemporary.”
She also likes the old masters, such as the Hudson River School painters, from whom she got her initial inspiration.
While the landscapes she sees in her travels also inspire her paintings, she doesn’t want to paint exactly what she sees.
“Obviously I want to put my own spin on things, paint what’s going on in my head and how I feel about where I am, and not what I’m looking at, because that would be a photograph,” Carter said. “I don’t think there’s anything interesting in just duplicating what we see.”
Carter has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco in graphic design and interior architecture. She worked in some design firms in the City by the Bay, which she enjoyed, but her husband Steve was transferred to Boise.
“It was time to see if I could make something out of my (desire) to be a fine artist,” she said.
That was a big change from working in highly technical computer-assisted drafting to picking up her pencil again and starting to sketch.
Self-taught in drawing and painting, she enjoyed the freedom of non-technical creativity. She began oil painting in Boise about eight years ago, “just to see if I could be a fine artist.”
Boise was her test market. She’s shown work at Finer Frames in Eagle, among other locations, and her work became well received.
“I have a really wide clientele base in Boise, and they were the ones who saw my paintings for the first time, before I ever went anywhere else to show. Their feedback and encouragement got me to where I am,” Carter said.
She’s been showing work at big fine-art fairs, including Sausalito, Calif., Seattle and Bellevue, Wash. and Portland, among other venues.
The shows continue, but she’s spending more time behind the easel, focusing more on developing her vision and creating work with deeper feeling.
Art is a constant learning process, she said, and “it’s great to continue learning because you’ll see something that you didn’t see before, or see things differently.”
Visit her web site at sherricarterart.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (208) 559-4293.