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article imageAmerican painter Sherri Aldawood revels in her love of beauty Special

By Adrian Peel     May 8, 2016 in Entertainment
When it comes to creating her masterpieces, this Phoenix-based artist is especially attracted to light and colour. She talked life and fine art with Digital Journal.
A former student at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the very talented Ms. Aldawood has had her work exhibited in, among other places, California, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Montana and her home state of Arizona. She has also won industry recognition, including a Merit Award from the Portrait Artists of Arizona in 2015.
Hi Sherri, how often do you paint? How many paintings are you working on at the present time?
"I try to paint often. Once I start on a painting, I will work only on that one until it is completed. I do get inspired constantly, though, so am always thinking about paintings I would like to do in the future. I do a lot of sketching to plan my paintings."
Your work is very colourful and seems to celebrate traditional depictions of male and female beauty. Are you a bit of a traditionalist at heart?
"I think I am very traditional. I paint what I think is beautiful."
 Gift from the Garden
'Gift from the Garden'
Sherri Aldawood
Do you think society's perception of what constitutes male and female beauty has changed over the last few decades?
"I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder... I study a lot of artists from the past. Certainly styles of clothing have changed and also the styles of the artists have changed, but good art will always be good. Good drawing, good design, these things remain constant and something I can learn from. I do like vintage clothes and furniture and I love to paint those things."
Where do you find your models? Where do you get their clothes from?
"Most of the people I paint are professional artist's models. Sometimes they own the clothes and sometimes we provide them. We will usually paint from life for a while and then do a photo shoot for future references. I also go to open studios in the Phoenix area where artists can work from a live model. I really enjoy the social aspect of this since most of the time I paint alone."
 In Motion
'In Motion'
Sherri Aldawood
When did you first start painting and how old were you when you realised you had a particular flair for it?
"I was always interested in drawing and painting as a child, which I thought was normal until I had my own kids and they weren't all that interested in those things. My dad was an amateur artist and I think seeing him create something out of nothing really attracted my interest at an early age. When I was around 13 I really started spending more time on art, but it was not until I was 24 that I found the American Academy of Art in Chicago. The school was teaching in a more traditional way and drawing skills were very important. At that time, back in the 1980s, very few schools were teaching students the fundamentals of art and the importance of developing your skills. When I saw what they were doing at that school, I knew that was where I needed to study."
Which artists, alive or dead, do you most admire?
"The artists I have probably studied the most from the past would be John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla, Anders Zorn and many others who lived around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There were also many amazing illustrators who worked during that time. These people really knew the human anatomy and how to design a painting in order to capture the viewer's attention. As for living artists, Richard Schmid has been a big inspiration and I've learned a lot from his book Alla Prima: Everything I Know about Painting. I am also inspired by many other great artists living today. I look at a lot of art and am constantly learning from other paintings."
What do you make of modern, non-representational art?
"I have always been attracted to representational art and have always wanted to follow that path, but there is some abstract art that I will be attracted to if there is an underlying structure of good design and a pleasing colour harmony. It is up to the artist how much they refine this abstraction into a subject that is recognisable... I think a lot of modern artists, in trying new things that are 'outside the box,' have opened doors for more traditional artists to try new techniques. I am very much in awe and inspired by artists who have exceptional drawing skills, particularly in anatomy. These skills are not easily acquired but very much worth the effort."
 A Walk in the Garden
'A Walk in the Garden'
Sherri Aldawood
How would you describe your work and your general outlook on life? Which of your paintings are you especially proud of? I particularly like 'A Walk in the Garden.'
"I like that painting a lot too. I am very lucky that my husband loves to garden and he has made our backyard into a paradise. That painting is a result of getting a few artist friends together, hiring a model - who in this case is a friend of one of the artists - and setting up an afternoon of painting and a photo shoot in my backyard. I love gardens and that shows up in my paintings quite often. I love outdoor light or painting indoors and juxtaposing both warm and cool lights on the model. I try to stay purely authentic by painting what I love without thinking about what might sell or be popular. I think when you look at my body of work you see me. I'm pretty much a happy person, an optimist."
For more information on Sherri Aldawood, visit her official website.
More about sherri aldawood, Art, American Academy of Art in Chicago, Painting, Arizona Art Alliance
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