Thursday, March 25, 2021

DPW Spotlight Artist: Sheila Longerbeam

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Sheila's painting "Fresh Melon" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Sheila's DPW Gallery Page:

Hi! I’m Sheila and I live in Northern CA, near San Francisco. I am sixty-three,  married with two grown children. I work full time as a psychotherapist, so painting is what I do most of the rest of the time! I usually paint four to five times a week and post my work to Instagram. I started painting seriously about six years ago. I began by attending a pastel workshop at Pt Reyes National Seashore--- a glorious spot on the northern CA coast! The work of the others, and the natural beauty reminded me of what I had always loved about art. I was inspired! 

Reading Carol Marine's book, Daily Painting, helped me to see how I could break down the art process into bite-sized pieces allowing me to gradually grow as an artist. At this point, I am focusing on strengthening my representational skills: drawing, value, composition, and color harmony. I also love it when those skills lead to a piece that is geometric and abstract-ish. I strive to create paintings with bold and inspiring colors. I realize that the spontaneity and freedom and delight I see in the paintings I love requires discipline and trust. Slowing down, deepening, trying again and again to catch the right color that makes a painting sing. As you look at my work, I hope that you see something that delights you.

What did you want to be growing up?

I didn’t know! It took me until about the age of twenty-six to know what I wanted to be when I grew up! At that point, I began training to be a psychotherapist, and have practiced in this field for thirty years, specializing in working with couples.

As I was sorting out what to do with my life, I often vacillated back and forth between something more socially impactful, such as therapy and something more spiritually growthful such as art and meditation. In the end, I thought my natural abilities and ambitions would be best fulfilled as a therapist. Also, I certainly didn't think I had much native talent for artwork and self-criticism made it more of a struggle.

When did your artistic journey begin?

From a young age, I have been very moved by paintings. I liked representational art as well as abstract art. I found favorite paintings in art museums and would return to visit the paintings that spoke to me. I felt that real art, as opposed to reproductions of art, had an energy from the artist that I was able to feel. 

My earliest art memories are of taking the bus on Saturday mornings to Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI to attend figure drawing classes, as a middle schooler. I felt nervous approaching the easel and drawing, so it was exciting and terrifying all at once.

I studied art as a second major in college and sporadically painted in my twenties.

Fresh Melon
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Sheila's interview.

Did you have any long periods without creative expression?

Yes. After college, I focused on finding and building my psychology career. I pursued psychological/spiritual growth, married and raised two kids. At about fifty-five years old I began to do art again more seriously.

How did you "get back on the horse?"

I attended a weekend pastel workshop with Bill Cone at Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Northern CA, in the US, one of my favorite places on earth. It opened something up in me and I gradually began to paint more and more, mostly focusing on plein air and landscapes.

In this time period, I noticed something else quite remarkable: I was painting without self-criticism. This was huge! I was able to enjoy my effort and my process. Without the hindrance of self-criticism, I was able to improve more rapidly.

When COVID hit, I started to think about death, and realized that I wanted to complete a body of work before I died. So I have particularly focused this year on painting very consistently— about 4-5 times per week. I have read books, watched YouTube, attended classes and been inspired by Instagram. This also coincides with my children entering adulthood and me thinking about "the rest of my life."

Round the Bend
(click to view)

What mediums and genres do you gravitate to?

I love oils and pastels. I am interested now in developing my representational skills. I want to be able to delight others with color and light. I can imagine in the future that I might want to do some abstract work, but for now, I am working on the basics.

Which ones don't appeal?

I am not particularly interested in acrylics or watercolors. I also want my paintings to be loose and expressive as opposed to tightly realistic.

Geometric Colors
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?

I am continuously finding my artistic voice. I am following my internal instincts and noticing what is revealed on the canvas. I collect paintings that inspire me and try to pinpoint what it is I love about them. I think this reveals something about me. At this point, my skill lags behind my vision.

I also continue to inquire, "why do I paint?" I think it is because I want to create visual moments that might stop someone in their tracks and cause them to look a bit more deeply at something they find beautiful or intriguing.

Name an artist, well-known or not, who you admire. Why?

I feel so much admiration for the everyday artists who continue to paint despite other significant obligations. I also feel admiration for the artists who have started painting later in life and paint with conviction.

White Vessels
(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be?

I feel good about how my creative self has developed in my life, so I don’t know that I have any particular advice.

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?

The best way for me to continue being productive is to set goals for myself. I have weekly and yearly goals. Since I continue to work as a therapist, the time I have off is precious to me, so I remind myself of that and make the most of it.

Lemons and Pink
(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

When I feel self-doubt, it often helps to go for a walk, look at art that inspires me, set a small goal for myself and start painting. It is especially helpful not to compare myself to others.

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art?

I want to continue to become more skilled as an artist. In the short term, I want to paint small to develop my skills. Soon, I would also like to return to painting larger pieces. I would like to exhibit my art locally and to connect with other artists for plein air outings.

Lilies and Cake
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally?

Success means completing a body of work I feel proud of. I feel proud of my work if I see it improving and changing over time. Success also means being in community with other artists.

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

The proudest moments for me at this point are when I create paintings where the visual language catches up with what I want to say. I feel these paintings are an expression of an essential part of me. It is hard to define, but a thrilling moment that many painters would recognize.

Thanks, Sheila!

© 2021 Sophie Marine

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