Journey into Art

Sharon Nelson


For as long as she can remember Sharon Nelson has wanted to create art. The youngest of 6 children in small town, rural Georgia in the 50’s and 60’s Sharon had little opportunity for formal exploration of her artistic ambition and it was never encouraged as a full time occupation. Her family however, did support her endeavors to create new members of the paper doll family and fancy clothes for them. Two of her sisters went on later in life to choose  artistic pursuits, one painting and pottery and the other precious metal clay and fused, slumped glass.  In school Sharon illustrated book reports (not required) for herself and classmates.  Some of her artistic efforts were framed and hung on the wall at home.  One older sister gave Sharon an easel, pastels, instruction book and other supplies when she was 11 and she was “hooked” though her efforts really never met her expectations.

When it came time to choose a career, art took a definite backseat.  After all Sharon knew she must pull in a regular pay check to support herself. While nursing was a relative unknown to her everyone said that she would always be able to get a job so Sharon went off to nursing school on a state scholarship. After completing nursing school (GA Baptist School of Nursing) and a BS at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA her attention turned back to art as a way to rescue herself from the fatigue of a full time job and night school. Sharon located a painting instructor in the yellow pages and studied drawing and painting with Bernadine Sears for 2 years. She joined the Atlanta Artists’ Club and began to participate in local and regional shows while maintaining her nursing career and obtaining a Masters degree at Georgia State University. Sharon’s nursing career continued for 49 years in nursing and healthcare education where she frequently assumed leadership roles.

In 1980 Sharon attended her first plein air workshop conducted by William Gerhold in Canaan Valley, West Virginia. Though the initial plein air experience was somewhat overwhelming, she realized she had found the place she wanted to be in the art world.  Sunrises, sunsets and unspoiled nature have greatly influenced the subjects she has chosen along the way.  Sharon was able to continue to study plein air painting with William Gerhold in West VA and the Eastern Shore of Maryland through 1987. Painting in between workshops and working occurred mostly at night in the studio which was often the dining room of her current apartment.

Sharon obtained employment in Columbus, GA and returned to her rural roots in 1993 and  purchased property in Talbot County, GA just outside of Woodland. In 1998 she built and moved into her studio home.  There is a designated studio space but Sharon happily can paint in almost any room in the house as well as both porches and the yard. This cabin also supports her non-art related activities of  reading, feeding the wild birds and other wild life, maintaining bird houses, and rescuing animals, mostly dogs and cats who “found” her and their home.

Sharon has long admired the impressionists and studied them through books and museum visits. She considers herself fortunate to have been able to study with impressionist William Schultz in Vero Beach FL where she was able to further develop her impressionist techniques.  Several loyal students of William Schultz as well as Mr. Schultz himself founded the  American Impressionist Society of which Sharon is a charter, signature member. The AIS is a national art organization which holds annual juried shows.

Sharon also attended workshops sponsored by Ringling School of Art and Design in Maine and Wild Acres, NC and studied with Cassandra James (plein air) in  Big Sky, Montana.

Sharon has been active in local artists groups maintaining membership in the Columbus Artists Guild  (president 1999 and 2000).

You can find Sharon’s paintings at the art cooperative Gallery on 10th in Columbus, GA (gallery director) and Xanadu Gallery Art Catalogue.

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