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Local painter, photographer presents work at library

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By Kristin Beck

Multi-talented Sharon Graves is like the Martha Stewart of Carroll County: She can paint, take pictures, sew, quilt, cross-stitch, create jewelry and is currently learning how to cut maps and make picture frames. “For me, to see something come out of nothing is so exciting,” she said.

Graves’ landscape acrylic paintings and photography will be on display at the Carroll County Public Library during the month of April. There will also be an artist’s reception for her on Monday, April 4 from 6-8 p.m. at the library.

While Graves has been painting recreationally for years, it was not until the last two years that she began to seriously work toward improving her skills. She truly became inspired after attending a color mixing lecture class by PBS artist Jerry Yarnell in October in Bardstown, Ky. There, she learned a variety of techniques and skills, including how to create her own paint colors. “I always knew there was an artist somewhere inside deep within me that needed to get out,” she said.

Graves also attended a two-day painting class by Yarnell that helped teach her to have confidence in her work. Heading into class, she said she was worried about her painting not being as good as everyone else’s, but soon realized that everyone has different skill levels and individual styles, so no two paintings will be exactly alike.

“You just have to have the right mindset that ‘I can do this,’” she said. “… You can’t be worried, ‘Well mine doesn’t look like hers.’”

Since January, Graves has been taking Yarnell’s “School of Fine Art” online course, as well as checking out book after book from the Carroll County Public Library. She paints mostly flowers and landscapes from photographs she has taken both locally—from around her home in Ghent to General Butler State Resort Park—and across the country, including photos taken out west while visiting her son. “I can paint and look up and all of a sudden four hours have gone by.”

While learning something new may seem intimidating, Graves said there is a plethora of resources available, including checking out books and DVDs at the library and watching “how-to” videos on YouTube. “If somebody wants to learn something, there is someone more than willing to teach it,” she said.

Graves said that art has taught her to look at the world differently and to notice shapes, colors and details of things in every day life, such as the color of a bird’s feathers or the shape of a tree. She encourages everyone to make themselves more open to art. “It gives you a different perspective,” she said, “and it makes you think about things deeper.”