Meet the award winners from XXXV Arizona Aqueous

Sharon Rawlins

Sharon Rawlins
“Sketching at the Gardner 1”
Honorable Mention

“Sketching At the Gardner 1” – Honorable Mention – Sharon Rawlins

Q: What exhibits at Tubac Center of the Arts have you participated in and have you won any awards there or elsewhere?

I have been honored to be juried into past Arizona Aqueous exhibitions past exhibitions

2007, watercolor painting Summer Garden

2011, watercolor painting La Nave Verde

2018, watercolor monotype Red Socks

2021, hand printed watercolor monotype Sketching at the Gardner, 1, honorable mention

I also have been accepted into exhibitions other than Arizona Aqueous where I won awards

Awards won elsewhere

Maryland Federation of Art, Small Wonders 2021, honorable mention

Art Center Sarasota, 2020 Members Online Exhibition, first place

Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society, Annual Open Aqueous Show, 2019, 2020, honorable mentions

Katharine A Lovell Memorial Award, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, Annual Open Exhibition, 2018

Past President’s Merit Award, New Orleans Art Association, 2017

Second Place Watermedia, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club Members Exhibition, 2013

Q: How did you first connect as an artist with Tubac Center of the Arts?

I’m not sure I remember, probably from a magazine ad or perhaps word of mouth, I was living in California at the time . . .

Q: Since most of us are stuck at home due to the Pandemic, we’d like to know about what you’ve been doing creatively during the quarantine. We’d love to hear what you have been working on and have you learned anything new.

I had begun exploring making hand printed watercolor monotypes before the pandemic, hand printed because I do not have access to a press. Before the pandemic I was painting my plates en plein air and then hand printing them in the studio, experimenting with different papers and plates. I explored restating areas on the plate and then overprinting and sometimes heightening with pastel or paint.

Since the pandemic I’ve continued experimenting with hand printing monotypes, mostly using watercolor but sometimes printing ink and litho crayon.

I started “mining” my sketchbooks for ideas, enlarging sketches that interested me and painting my plates based on them. I sometimes worked in a series. I’d paint a plate, print it, sometimes restate, sometimes heighten with pastel or additional paint. And then I’d paint a new plate of the same subject and go through the same process. I experimented with different papers to see which ones printed in ways pleasing to me.

I mainly use a Murasaki Baren.

Sketching in the Gardner, 1, the piece in the show, was based on a drawing in one of my sketchbooks. I was able to snatch a few minutes to do some quick sketches in the courtyard when I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum a few years back. I had thought of trying to expand upon the sketches but it wasn’t until I had been experimenting with monotypes that I thought to take that approach.

I’ve also continued to paint in watercolor. I haven’t ventured out for plein air painting. I’m not sure why since it is a solitary, distanced activity (or can be). I think it has something to do with making sure that staying in and being socially distanced was instilled as habit. My husband has leukemia and I want to be careful.

I wish I could say I have a disciplined daily practice but I do not. It is something I strive for.

Even so I try to make sure I am thinking about art, even if I am not painting or printing in my studio. I spend time bouncing around online reading what strikes me in the moment and looking at art as well as perusing art books I have acquired. I have artist friends that I Zoom or Skype or FaceTme with periodically. And I have Zoomed into online lectures, museum tours, and a book club when I can. Since one place I do go is to clinic appointments with my husband I have tried to make it a “rule” that I will do at least one sketch while hurrying up and waiting. I started doing them on my iPad with the iPad pencil as that feels more discrete. The pencil slips and slides on the glass of the iPad surface and that makes for interesting drawings — though it does not enhance my handwriting.

Q: Where do you create your artwork? In your home?  A studio? What is your workspace or studio like? Is it clean and neat or messy? Do you listen to music, podcasts?

I have a small studio space off the lanai of my house. It is small but it has lots of windows and light and a high slanted ceiling and truth be told I love it. I was a long time without a studio space and having a space where I can leave work out is wonderful. Because it is small some of my studio accoutrements live elsewhere in my house and garage. Flat files as furniture, closet and under-the bed storage and framed inventory in closets in the garage.

I have a high tolerance for clutter so I suppose you’d have to say it is more messy than neat. Though it is not dirty and a certain orderliness is required for a small space to function.

I tend not to listen to music or podcasts. Periodically I think listening to music would be in order.

In the past my “studio” was the kitchen counter and I often had the TV on as background noise.

It was so interesting to realize that though I was not paying any particular attention to what was being said or happening later it would all come back when I came back again to the painting. Once when I was painting en plein air a fellow came and sat down next to me and began to talk. When I realized he wanted nothing from me, not even an occasional uh-huh, I just kept painting as he told me his whole life story. For awhile each time I worked on or looked at the painting what he had been saying would come back. It was as though the sounds were recorded in my brush strokes, a flight of fancy I know.

In past years I did a lot of plein air painting so my studio was in effect portable, it was my art bag easel and wherever I happened to be.

Q: How do you want to affect people with your artwork and is there anything you would like to improve upon in your work?

I want to continue to grow as an artist, for the journey to continue and take me to new places. To gain a greater understanding of the use of abstraction. To reach the next level, to create work that invites contemplation and that has more than subject level depth.

I came across this comment in an article I read last summer: “If I seek out art in a time of national catastrophe, it’s not because I need that catastrophe explained to me. And it’s not because I want to block that catastrophe out with a veil of pretty pictures. It’s simpler than that. It’s because I need to be reminded what to live for.” That’s what I want and want others to get from my work. A sense of capturing universal, timeless, recognizable moments of goodness, truth, and beauty. As Van Gogh said “It comes down to seizing what does not pass away in what passes away.”

Q: Where can people see some of your work? Provide your website, Facebook, Instagram, other places virtual or in-person.  
There is a selection of my work at
Nottingham Framing and Gallery
3920 Birch St., Suite 102
Newport Beach, California 92660
949-833-1770     I have some items on Etsy  

Thank you Sharon and Congratulations!