In Conversation with Sherry Park - Tri-Art Mfg.

In Conversation with Sherry Park

For our most recent artist spotlight, we had the opportunity to speak with Toronto-based realist painter Sherry Park. We explored everything from artist residencies to artists’ block.

For our most recent artist spotlight, we had the opportunity to speak with Toronto-based realist painter Sherry Park. We explored everything from artist residencies to artists’ block.

Making the ordinary extraordinary.

Can you tell us about yourself and your work in a nutshell?

"I am a Korean-Canadian artist based in Brampton Ontario. I came to Canada in 1976 and have lived in the Toronto area ever since. I studied Fine Art at the Ontario College of Art and completed one year of my education at their Florence Campus. I paint realistically based on photographs using oil paint as my medium."

Sherry, your work spans a breadth of subject matter; beloved pets, portraits and landscapes. How do you choose your subjects? Through researching you, we found that you had two particular recurring subjects in your portraits; your parents. Did you always have a creative upbringing? Are your parents artistic?

"I take many photographs wherever I go, depending on who I am with. I choose subjects that are personal to me and to which I feel a connection. It is an ongoing theme I am working on – painting my parents. It is a way for me to tell their story and their life as new immigrants to Canada; a story that is shared by many other Canadians. My mother was crafty with her hands. She knitted, crocheted, and sewed. I learned many things through watching her. My dad was always interested in photography and somehow, that rubbed off on me because I cannot imagine my life without a camera."

Who are your creative influences? What inspires you?

"I am inspired by old masters like Leonardo Da Vinci. Ingre Contemporary artists that inspire me are Lucien Freud and Paul Fenniak. I am inspired by people I meet and am also inspired by walks in the forest; seeing the lights filtering through the leaves."

Can you tell us a little bit about your painting process? Do you do a lot of preliminary work to prepare or do you prefer to gradually work out a painting as it happens?

"When I paint portraits, I draw out the image in detail with graphite and then I  paint in layers. In the end, I do about 4 to 5 layers. With landscape paintings, I dive right in with broad strokes and areas, roughing in the trees and figuring out the composition. With each layer of paint, more detail is introduced; more branches and highlights."

As part of your education from OCAD, we learned that you studied off-campus in Florence, Italy. In 2019, you completed an artist residency in Cape Breton and, most recently, completed an artist residency in France. What role has travel played in your work and process?

"It has played a very important role to me and my growth as an artist. When I first went to Italy, seeing art history in real life was a life-changing experience. My artist residency in France has enriched my life; meeting new friends and learning from them. I grew as a landscape artist seeing and witnessing the beauty of the forests and mountains in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park."

You work in a number of different mediums; oils, watercolours and dry media. All very different from one another. What unique role do each of these mediums play in your creative process?

"My main medium is oil at the moment. It is all consuming. I love the richness of the colour and the depth. I like the transparent quality of watercolour. I use charcoal, conte and pastel for life drawing."

Many artists today work from photographs as reference. It is clear that life-drawing and plein air painting profoundly inform your pieces. What is the importance of painting from life? How do you capture a fleeting moment over an extended period of time?

"It is very important to draw and paint from life. You are not just copying, but expressing and interpreting what you see. It is a constant learning process. I use photographs to capture fleeting moments so that I can paint it in 100 plus hours."

If you were to build your own palette, what colours would you choose? Which colours are most crucial to your palette? Do you use any mediums with your paint? If so, what are your must-haves?

"My palette consists of Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow Light, Titanium White, Mars black. I do not use any mediums."

In an article from 2020 for Visual Arts Brampton, you mention the idea of ‘doing more with less.’ Can you elaborate on this concept? How do you know when you are overworking something/how do you ensure you do not overwork? How do you know a painting is finished?

"An example of “doing more with less” would be when you are painting a face. You start by simplifying the areas of tones - darkest dark, medium and light. For the next layer, you would break down more of the areas within the darkest dark, medium and light. I try to use minimal brush strokes to achieve the final painting. For me, if Istart to use the #1 brush, then I know I am overworking. I know a painting is finished when all areas of the canvas have been worked on, and the tone and colours are working together. Also, when nothing stands out awkwardly."

You are a very active, accomplished artist having received a number of accolades. We saw that you were recently a finalist for the Salt Spring National Art Prize Michelle Jacques Juror’s Choice Award and that you have competed extensively throughout your career in various juried exhibitions. In your field of work, would you consider yourself a competitive person? Finally, Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us/promote?

"Thank you. I guess I am competing with myself when I paint. The juried exhibitions and competitions are ways for me to get exposure and it puts my art in perspective. Receiving awards gives me confidence I am doing something right. For  upcoming events, I have nine juried exhibitions and fairs from now until October. Most notably: Society of Canadian Artists 54th Juried Exhibition Wall Candy Noir Art Expo Art Gallery Northumberland Paint Ontario."









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