WBM january 2019
ED TIME” showcases Sheffield’s passion
and talent for Impressionism and its
techniques, particularly the effects of
light on color variation. The scene faintly
echoes the famous Vincent Van Gogh
painting “Bedroom in Arles” and the art-ist’s
brushstrokes are light and loose. This piece comprises a
rich color palette of warm shades, reminiscent of lush tapestry
and historic royal portraiture. The 12-foot by 12-foot painting
depicts a bedroom with golden yellow walls and a shockingly
rich red bedspread; a pale blue, silken robe is laid carefully on
top of it. The eye is drawn from the top right of the canvas to
the bottom left, following the line of the bed frame as it juts
into the intimate, warmly lit space. A small bedside lamp pro-vides
a light source for the scene and Sheffield skillfully layers
light and dark shades of paint throughout to emphasize the
play of this small lamp’s rays on various surface materials.
There is a contagious sense of passion and love in the piece,
as if stepping into a precious memory. And this makes sense,
since Sheffield says that one of her hopes as a painter is to
evoke individual memories and feelings.
“My goal is to awaken personal memories in my viewer, a
memory of a happy place or vacation. Recall a favorite food or
flower, remember a childhood game or party, or maybe see
something in a different way,” she explains.
Sheffield is a self-described “tool junkie” and this has led her
to try many new techniques and experiment with creative and
interesting media. She makes a wide variety of wire works as
well, including sculpture, wall hangings and jewelry. Pieces like
“Fancy Koi” and her historic chainmail-inspired bracelets dem-onstrate
her facility with a wide range of techniques and her
enthusiasm for constant education and growth. She recently
completed an assembled metal piece titled “Midcentury Bee
Groovy,” a cleverly designed lamp that leverages her skills with
torches, metal stamping and etching. This unique work is on
display in the Cameron Art Museum’s Illumination 2018 show
until January 13.
In her painting practice, Sheffield incorporates both studio
and plein air time, noting that painting outdoors is importantly
instructive for achieving dynamic light and depth. Along with
copper sheets, she paints on square Masonite wood panels
which she treats with layers of gesso.
Before she begins painting, Sheffield creates what she calls
“thumbnails” — small sketches to guide her in laying the compo-sition
onto the surface. Once she’s ready to compose, Sheffield
applies an underpainting to the surface, the colors of which will
depend on the materials used and color palette intended.
Like many painters working in impressionistic styles, Sheffield
wants to avoid overworking a piece, teaching herself to stop
painting just as the image has been completed.