Sheri Gee, a British painter, based in West Sussex, spins a lot of plates, like so many artists. She divides her time between creating artwork, looking after her family and working part-time in book design. This is her third Twitter Art Exhibit and each year she’s gone back to a rain theme. In this interview, with Carolyn Murphy, we find out more about her involvement with TAE, her recent projects and what inspires her to paint.
“Making artwork brings me a lot of joy”, Sheri explains. “It’s my form of escapism, where I get caught up in wonderful moments pushing paint around, making marks and discovering happy accidents. Just having a pocket of time to pick up my brush and stick on a podcast brings me a weekly buzz.”
“I’m enormously inspired by the world around me, whether that’s my family, local landscapes or the commute. For many years, I’ve commuted from Sussex to the office in London for my day job, so I have often been waiting on, or waiting for, buses. In this downtime I was drawn to scenes I’d love to paint, mostly commuters in the rain with bright umbrellas or coats, so I started using my phone to capture moments. From these, I could paint loose impressions when I was back at the easel.”
What was your first TAE contribution?
My first postcard was back in 2015 for the Norway exhibition. David Sandum reached out to me via Twitter to see if I’d like to contribute, and I jumped at the chance.
Working on a postcard size was novel at first but it proved to be a favourite format that I have repeated frequently in my work since. This was my first TAE artwork - oil on a primed watercolour postcard:
How did you become an artist, Sheri?
I’ve always drawn. After I left school I went on to do a Foundation course in Art and Design and then a degree in Illustration. I spent a few years working as a freelance illustrator, on top of a full-time job. Roll on three years, the day job had begun to take over and I realised I was barely drawing anymore, so I enrolled in a Saturday life drawing class. I stayed in that class for ten years and it gave me a great opportunity to practise many different media. I really honed my observational skills and worked my way through charcoal, pastel and pencil, to inks, watercolour and then acrylics.
In the years since, my love of representational painting has grown and grown. I’ve found a real love of oil paint but still dip back to other media from time to time. I really enjoy making artwork and learning new skills.
How has the Covid pandemic impacted your artistic life?
During the pandemic, I’ve been working from home. Not having to commute to London, gave me the opportunity to take an online course from a US painter I admire. This was a ‘30 in 30’ still life challenge, which was enormously hard at the time, but so rewarding.
I love painting portraits, so I was also thrilled to create two pieces for Tom Croft’s ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ project, where artists offered a free portrait to the first NHS worker to contact them. Firstly, I painted a Staff Nurse in Blackpool and then went on to paint an anaesthetist and intensive care doctor, from Glasgow, with her children.
What did you create for TAE21?
Since that first painting, back in 2015, I have continued to develop my rain series, nearly always on postcards, so it seemed fitting to make another, almost as a thank you to TAE for helping me to begin the series. This piece is a scene near Tower Bridge in London.
Called ‘08.37 More London’, it is on watercolour paper, primed twice with gesso, then painted in oils.
What do you love about TAE?
For me, taking part in TAE has been an opportunity to pay it forward to a good cause; using my skills for good. It’s lovely to know that someone, somewhere, has benefitted through the sale of my little postcards.
The team behind TAE are fabulous at sharing everyone’s artwork online, so you get to see some great pieces and also your own work reaches people who might otherwise never see it.
What is the highlight of your creative career so far?
I’m always bowled over when my work is selected for exhibitions. Over the years, I’ve been thrilled to have work shown in the Society of Women Artists annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries, in London, as well as Chelsea Art Society. In 2018, I was a finalist in the Holly Bush Emerging Woman Painter Prize, which also blew me away!