This week I’d like to introduce you to an old friend and an incredible artist, Sharon McGill.
At the risk of embarrassing us both, I first met Sharon in P2 in primary school (I’ll spare our blushes and not mention what year that was) and without a word of a lie, had “hair envy” that lasted for years! As a little girl, Sharon had gorgeous long dark brown wavy hair. I always wanted to grow my own fine straight blonde hair until it was longer than hers. She inadvertently made that easy for me in high school- she went to hairdresser and got hers cut short! Mine on the other hand has never been short since.
Ok, nostalgia over and done with.
Life took us both in different directions after school, but our paths have criss-crossed over the years.
I caught up with Sharon recently and was lucky enough to be able to put a few questions to her. Here’s what she had to say.
Tell me a bit about yourself. Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I have wanted to be an artist from the age of about 6! I used to draw for hours every night and couldn’t wait to get my homework done so I could get to drawing and doodling!
In secondary school, I spent all my lunch breaks and free periods in the art department. I was best friends with all the art teachers.
My mum was so committed to my goal that she posed naked for me when we could not afford life drawing lessons!
You’re quite a prolific artist. Do you have a favourite among your paintings and drawings?
Like songs, favourite paintings define a moment in your life. For me, my favourites tend to be paintings I created during particularly challenging times.
Is there one particular person who inspired you to paint/draw?
Number one would have to be my deceased art teacher, Gordon Wyllie. He himself was a successful commercial landscape artist and a huge supporter of my work!
However, I suffer from bipolar disorder and my psychologist, many years later insisted that I make time to paint (even though I was then a busy full time working mum and interior design lecturer) I was in my early thirties at the time and had not found time to paint since graduating from college due to my commitments to my husband, children and my lecturing job. He told me it was an essential part of my recovery journey and that he would not treat me if I did not bring him a recently completed painting next week. I brought him a painting of my daughter which is still my favourite painting to this day! It has also won awards in a variety of portrait competitions.
Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
I will only try and paint subjects that move me emotionally. My children and my environment. I am blessed to live in a most beautiful part of Scotland. Stormy seas, ominous skies, crashing waves and huge mountains remind me that I am only a tiny part of a much bigger and stronger force. This helps to ground my emotions as I walk through these landscapes every day. Anything that soothes my soul, inspires me to create and share it with others.
A cruel question, but what’s your favourite piece of art and why?
I have a favourite portrait and a favourite landscape. My favourite portrait is of my daughter. At the time she was 10 years old and just beginning to show early symptoms of mental health problems herself. She no longer lives with me and it hangs in my lounge as a testament to her courage in dealing with deep emotional problems yet remaining a strong young woman. I will never put this painting up for sale regardless of the financial offers.
My son also played a huge part in helping Molly and I through this difficult time. He was always a little bit worried and I captured his anxiety perfectly in this portrait. Another I would never sell.
My favourite landscape is my first large scale painting entitled ‘sky and sea’. I was scared to try such a big study of our elements but I found it so cathartic. It sold immediately too, proving that others found it as memorising and dramatic to view as I did to create. There is just something so soothing about the drama and force of our environment. Its why I have chosen to become a landscape artist. I really believe the world around us can heal the soul and help us conquer so many of our day to day, modern world problems!!
What’s your favourite medium to work with?
I work only in acrylic. Fast drying, easy to manipulate and can be changed as quickly as my emotions dictate!
Tell me a bit about your approach to your art. Are you a meticulous planner or do you tend towards letting yourself go with the flow?
I would never be described as a meticulous artist!!!!
I paint only when the mood takes me (fortunately that tends to be on a nightly basis!) and I paint with my hands, scrape with my nails, use my legs as palettes and have a tendency trash the room I’m working in!! The painting itself is the only thing that matters to me in that moment.
Painting is not a meticulous task for me but is all about capturing the raw emotion of a person or place. I move around a lot as I paint, I walk around, I dance and I am completely emerged in the creative experience. Once I start, I cannot stop. This means I can be painting all day and all night! I also often go to bed on the sofa beside my painting, covered in paint!!
I love to write outdoors. Where’s your favourite place to paint?
On the floor, surrounded by photographs, listening to music, vaping and usually in my underwear!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I never listen to advice. (Ask my mum or husband if you don’t believe me!!) I do my life at my own pace under my own rules, and these tend to change on a daily basis.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creative souls out there?
Follow your own spirit. Make time to do your own thing. Don’t compare yourselves to anyone else. EVER!!! The world could be doing with some individuality for God’s sake!!
Writers can suffer from writer’s block from time to time and find themselves staring a blank page for hours. Does this happen to artists and if so, how do you overcome it?
Only fear gives me an artistic block so I say to myself, ‘If tonight’s painting is shit, put it in the bin and nobody need know!’ That way, I have total freedom to fuck it up!
However, it might be wonderful. If you don’t do a painting tonight, you will never know!! And I have binned quite a few!!
So, what’s next creatively? Are you working on anything else just now?
I’ve been writing a book for about 10 years now!!! Keeping memoirs of my life as a mum, my mental health journey and that of my daughter’s. It is funny, tragic and down to earth but I’ve no idea how to put it into any semblance of order!! Its on the back burner for now as my art has taken off in a way I could never have imagined!
Then for a bit of fun I asked:
Favourite food Scallops
Favourite drink Lots of white wine
Favourite band Skerryvore (HOME – SKERRYVORE)
Favourite holiday destination My back garden or the beach down the road. Haven’t been on holiday for years!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? To live forever, cause I don’t want to miss what happens next!
Huge thanks to Sharon for taking the time to answer my questions. She’s a busy lady so it really is appreciated.
If you want to check out more of Sharon’s art, please drop by her Facebook page