Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I have been taking photographs since I was a young girl growing up in Southwestern Ohio.
My parents and I traveled all over the United States in our trailer for 3 weeks each year. That is when I became hooked on photography.
I was the yearbook photographer for my high school. I attended a Photography trade school in Dayton Ohio for 2 years and started working in a portrait studio just before graduating in 1980. After working there for 4 years, I decided it was time to start a family so I opened my own studio in our home.
It took us 5 years to conceive our daughter and with nothing else to do, my business grew. I have had my portrait studio for 24 years now.
You photograph your subject and alter the images, can you tell us about your process?
I have always wanted more from my photography. I wanted them to look more like paintings. With digital that became possible. When I found the Corel Painter program I was determined to learn it.
I spent 3 years taking classes from good painter artist and then began to develop my own style. I don’t always paint every photograph. When I have an image that I feel needs to be painted I work on it in Photoshop first and fix anything I don’t like then I work on the contrast and then work on it in Painter.
There is no formula. Each image requires different effects. It just depends on my mood at the time.
Sometimes I want it to be more abstract, chalky and then sometimes I want an oillike effect. There are so many options and I really can’t tell you what I have done to an image by the time I am finished.
It is very therapeutic for me when I am working on a piece. A lot of the time I need to keep painting while I am in the groove so I don’t lose the effect I am going for. I use a Wacom tablet and stylist to do my work with a 20” monitor.
You work with more than just horses, what is your favorite subject?
I spend a lot of time outdoors and love nature and animals. I take my camera with me on some of my walks with my Redbone Coonhound, Cooper.
I have learned to look closely at things rather than just taking a photograph of an entire scene. I am attracted to old barns and buildings.
I also love Charleston, S.C. and do a lot of images of the doors, gates and other elements that represent Charleston to me.
Horses have always been an obsession with me. I never got the opportunity to learn to ride or have a horse so I have had to observe them from afar.
My dream as a teen was to move to Wyoming and work on a ranch with horses. My favorite horse image so far is the “Ready To Ride” image because it makes me think of what it would look like at that ranch just before we went out on a ride. There is just something that happens to me when I get on a horse to ride it. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had, had the opportunity to ride as a child.
Who are your main influences?
My favorite artist style is impressionism. I also enjoy Vermeer. I have a hard time with contemporary art and really have been trying to step out of my comfort zone but haven’t made anything I am happy with right now.
I appreciate most art forms but like most artist we settle into a personal style that is our own.
Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art? And is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
I am inspired visually, so many things inspire me. Sometimes I have been looking at other peoples work in a blog or a magazine and I get an idea and sometimes it just happens as I am out and about.
Light, shadows, color, textures and patterns all catch my attention and cause me to want to capture it. I just seem to view my world through the lens of a camera.
Music is very important to me when I am painting. I don’t like to have distractions so I usually have to work on paintings after studio hours. I became a scrap booker several years ago and this also helped be view my photography in a different light. I like to tell stories with my photos so I take a series of images a lot.
What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general? Has it had an effect on yours?
My hope is that the internet will bring my work to many people who would never have seen me before. I think like everything else it will bring more competition and with digital there are many more creative people who can enter the art world like never before.
It definitely will bring artist many opportunities to sell their work.
Which one is your personal favorite piece?
My favorite painting so far is the “Peonie” because it was the first painting that I did that I was really pleased with. It will always be special.
Would you ever sell it?
I hope to sell lots of copies of this image. Selling it would tell me that other people see the beauty in it that I do.
What else are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about books. It is an addiction really.
Sometimes I just wish I could take a year off and read as many books as I can.
Café Mocha’s are also an addiction. My hope is that I can make enough money selling photographs that I can stop taking portraits and not have to keep a 9 to 5 schedule so I can have more freedom to work with my creative urges. It is hard to make time to paint when I am in my busy season in the studio.
After 29 years of Studio portrait work I really dream of a chance to try something more personal for myself. I am always working on something. I have a blog that I use as a place to share the photography I love.
More to Come
Thanks to Sherri for answering the interview and sharing her work. Be sure to check out her studio website periodically for updates about her latest works.
Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists and photographers.
Are you a horse artist or do you know an equine artist you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.