design by Kathryn Manis
when I learned that old masters used it as a surface.
I liked its smoothness and how it imparted a warm
undertone. From painting on it, I progressed to etch-ing
drawings on it.”
This warming undertone is leveraged to inti-mate
and vibrant affect in pieces like “Bed Time.”
“The Original Nook” features an interior domestic
scene and a cozy reading corner. Flanked by a filled
bookshelf and a short side table, both in a reddish
mahogany wood shade, the absent reader’s royal
blue easy chair is bathed in bright light from two
small lamps. A book has been placed spine up on
the seat of the overstuffed chair, suggesting that the
room’s resident has recently walked away. Sheffield
applied the oil paint in several layers. Traces of the
artist’s brush are richly evident in the details of the
room’s door, the surfaces of wooden furniture and
accents throughout the small room, and the lovingly
worn fabric of the central chair.
Sheffield adds beeswax to all her oil paints, which
she says makes them appear translucent, stiffer and
more matte. This also gives her more freedom with
layering. To prevent future cracking, many artists
working with oil paints must layer paint fat to lean —
meaning paints with higher ratios of oil to pigment
must be layered on top of those with lower ones.
This creates a more flexible painted surface, which is
better able to withstand the tests of time. By adding
beeswax to her colors and painting on more durable
surfaces like copper and panel, Sheffield creates works
whose quality and integrity last longer than average.
Sheffield is a member of the American Impressionist
Society and describes her work as always toeing the
line between abstract and impressionistic.
My philosophy has always been to paint the best
me, not like someone else — to let myself emerge,”
she says. “What emerged is still emerging, it seems
to be more a straddling of Impressionism and
Abstraction. I want to be on the borderline between
Impressionism and Abstraction where a painting has
abstract qualities but is clearly identifiable as repre-sentational.
Honestly, I’ve only achieved this in my
best paintings, not in all of them.”
Bedtime, 12 x 12 inches, oil on copper.
The Original Nook, 12 x 12 inches, oil on copper.