By Cathleen Twardzik
Does the ocean intrigue you? If it does, or if you simply enjoy viewing art, then an upcoming Somerville-based exhibit will prove of interest to you.
On December 1 and December 2 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Jane Sherrill, Visual Artist, will display her paintings at Vernon Street Open Studios, which is her studio. It is located at 20 Vernon St., 6-West in Somerville.
During the past few summers, Sherrill traveled to Point Pleasant, NJ. That experience and location served as the foundation for five of her paintings. She spent many childhood summers at the Jersey Shore. In her opinion, the ocean there seems notably “rougher” than on Cape Cod and she “began to paint that wild ocean.”
Sherrill’s painting Early Morning, Point Pleasant will serve as a tribute to New Jersey, “which took a terrible hit during Hurricane Sandy.” Point Pleasant sustained incredible damage during that devastating storm.
The majority of her pieces have “been abstract.” However, she enjoys focusing on subject matter that includes the ocean.
“I’ve been doing this particular series of ocean paintings since 2009. The first paintings in this series were acrylic on 15″ X 15″ paper. Then I switched to working on wood panels, and grew my paintings to 3′ X 6′. Throughout much of my art career I’ve collaged torn paper into freeform shapes, then painted them using acrylic paints and other media. Many of these pieces were also 3-dimensional. My ocean paintings are my first work depicting landscapes on rectangular surfaces,” said Sherrill.
Various subject matters of paintings into which Sherrill has delved include those of the American flag that she started immediately following September 11, 2001. She has also portrayed human bones, which were based on Biblical passages.
At present, she works on her ocean paintings, which have increased in size to 36″ X 72″ and focus on the clouds and the sky.
Her current exhibit was inspired by a trip to Cape Cod. “During the summer of 2009, I was invited to stay with a friend in Truro, on the Cape, and that’s what inspired this series. I called the paintings I began then The Truro Paintings. Later, my cousin invited me to her house in Point Pleasant,” said Sherrill.
The most expansive of her paintings is her most recent, which also depicts Truro. It measures 3′ X 6′. “I find the ocean to be surprisingly different in each place I visit, the color of the water, roughness [and] wave structure. These differences interest me,” she said.
While in her early 30s Sherrill lived in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, and she journeyed through the woods. She trekked around ponds and through pine forests. Each time, she traveled back home by using a different route from the one by which she had come.
“My intention was to get lost in my surroundings, becoming one large mind, hearing/seeing. When I got lucky, I was rewarded with a wide perspective, sharply seeing each individual tree, simultaneously, [and] hearing each separate pine needle fall. I experienced all the details, there was no background, each detail was as important as any other. My intention in my ocean paintings, particularly in my latest 6’ ones, is to recreate that state of consciousness,” said Sherrill.
Sherrill noted that she utilizes miniature brushes, and she is infatuated by details of an object. For example, she attempts to paint distinctive drops of water to ensure that the entire painting “flows.” That approach provides a space which “expresses a state of complete foreground in which every detail is equally important.”
In the painting Early Morning, Pt. Pleasant, Sherrill ventured out when the day was just beginning to photograph the ocean, while standing on the beach. “In most of my earlier ocean paintings, my focus has been on waves and how they work. With this painting, my focus shifted to the sky. A morning fog was pulling back from the ocean, and the sky above was clear and blue. There was a remnant of wispy, grey, early morning fog burning off, and below that grey line, the colors were muted and yellowish, the air dense with moisture.”
A second work, which will be on display at the upcoming exhibit is entitled WaveWall, Early Morning Pt. Pleasant. That piece includes a “wall of water” rushing toward the viewer. “The interesting aspect, here, for me to paint was the foam that rides up the wave and how light plays on water as the wave rises.”
In her late 20s Sherrill began to draw and to display her work. She’s been painting for about 40 years. “I’m not sure I made a conscious decision to become an artist at first, though at some point it became clear to me.”
Her near future will include Long Island seascapes.
Visit http://vernonstreet.com/index.html to receive additional information and to find directions to Vernon Street Open Studios.