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Among the inspirations for the subject matter for Elizabethtown artist Sherry Pearl are her childhood and a children’s story.
But Pearl did not arrive at her style of whimsical art through any particular course of study.
In fact, she got there despite her studies in art.
“I got so hung up on the rules, so one day I said, ‘Forget the rules,’” Pearl said.
Using bright acrylic paints, the artist creates scenes focused primarily on people.
“People just have emotions,” she said. “It inspires me more.”
In 2010, she published a book at www.blurb.com. It is a catalogue of her work containing photos of the paintings from 2000 to 2005. The book is titled “Whimsical Art.”
“You won’t find any landscapes in my book,” she said.
Instead, Pearl’s art depicts, among other whimsical subjects, trout playing Scrabble.
For Pearl, the artistic background went back a long way.
“My dad was an artist,” she said. “He was always drawing at the table.”
During her sophomore year of college, Pearl took in art class. She hadn’t taken any art classes prior to that and recalls it was the roughest class she ever took.
Pearl honed her craft by taking private lessons from a Louisville artist, attending some community education classes and becoming part of an artist group known as Lincoln Trail Art Colony, which met in Meade County. Along the way, she learned a lot, including an usual tidbit of information.
“I hate the color green and I didn’t know that,” she said.
The artist found her favorite medium was acrylic paints.
“I don’t like the oils,” she said. “Water colors? That will bring you to your knees.”
Though she cultivated her artistic abilities as a mother of one, when she had two more children and moved to the country she took a hiatus from her art to concentrate on parenting.
When her children were grown, Pearl returned to art and found inspiration in her childhood experiences playing with her twin sister, Merry. As children the two would pretend to travel to the moon or be cowgirls.
A series of Pearl’s paintings features a character known as Birdie that reflects those experiences.
The character, in one painting, wears a colander as a helmet, sports aviator-style goggles and breathes through a snorkeling tube. Other paintings find Birdie similarly attired and engaging in various forms of play.
“A lot of that comes from childhood,” Pearl said.
The tones of the paintings have an industrialized feel.
“It’s my interpretation of steampunk,” she said, explaining the style has a bleak, industrialized sensibility.
Another series of her works features characters she refers to as Red and Wolf. The characters are elaborations on Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf from the children’s story.
But Pearl’s depictions portray them not as enemies but as intimate acquaintances.
“I know the real folk tale is gruesome and not at all as I have interpreted it,” she said. “However, obviously they have become the characters who symbolize the relationship and tug between male and female.”
Red and Wolf can be found playing chess, picnicking, having tea and doing the tango in the moonlight in Pearl’s paintings.
Among her other works, Pearl created a series featuring a harlequin character and signs of the zodiac. She also has done abstract paintings and one inspired by a granddaughter.
The most difficult part of painting human subjects is body proportions, Pearl said. In fact, she has used her husband as a hand model for some paintings, she said.
“You get your models where you can find them,” she said.
In 2000, Pearl began selling her art on a fairly new website known as eBay.
“Everything I put on sold,” she said.
Pearl was thrilled to be able to sell any of her paintings. Even more thrilling was to learn her art was being sold to buyers around the world, including Germany, England and Iceland.
On the other hand, she did not find any interest in her art locally.
“The closest I’ve come to selling anything in our area is Louisville,” she said.
About nine years ago, Pearl again took a hiatus from painting to work in her husband’s law office. A few months ago she stopped working there and has returned to art.
Pearl is not sure where the future will take her. She said she will have to get her inspiration back first.
“Subject matter? I don’t know,” she said. “We’ll see what happens. I doubt it will be landscapes.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.