Ask Sheila Finch if she is an artist, and she replies “Yes, that is who I am.” Not 'what', but 'who’. The deep truth of this statement has been borne out over and over as she has become the latest source of delightful works for private and corporate art collectors around the globe. Landscapes on the verge of abstracts reveal both her passion and her genius for color, for creating not just a scene, but the mood it engenders, as well.
Living and painting from her boat, Sheila gathers scenes from the sea to build a repertoire of visually stunning images. Her skyscapes show the acumen of a painter who knows water. Her art floats between the ethereal realm of abstraction and the concrete texture of realism.
Her genius with color developed early in her life. It began at the age of 13 in Ohio when her boyfriend made her a gift of watercolors and an easel. “I was impressed. These were professional artist supplies! He eventually became my husband',” she laughs. Her mother, also an artist, enrolled her in a class to study with a regional artist, concentrating on the basics of studio painting, her only formal training. At the age of 16, Sheila sold her first work and has since been a productive and successful artist who has sold works to corporate and private collectors both here and abroad. It was during this early period that she created her first award-winning work.
In 1992, Sheila and her family moved to Germany, where she first began painting outdoors, from real life, in the little village where she lived, Hutschenhausen. Sheila joined a professional painting artists tour through France. Included among the en-plein-air stops was a day of painting in Monet's Giverny gardens. She credits this experience for triggering a “quantum leap in my creative development.”
“I began to focus on a more abstracted style of landscape, becoming less interested in painting specific details, and much more interested in the thousands of subtle shades of warm and cool colors from nature,” Sheila recalls. As she developed her new style, she would seek out books on art and artists.
“When I first saw the work of the color field artist Marc Rothko, I was intrigued by the manner in which my eyes perceived colors as my gaze followed the edges of the large blocks of color in each painting... how my perception of the hues changed. For example, an outer color that is purple could make an interior area of yellow ochre look green instead of yellow... a muted brown next to a pure swatch of ultramarine blue made the blue look so much brighter... This was the beginning of my intense exploration of the use of color and pattern to create an emotional impression,” she recalls. “Another artist who has had a profound influence on my work is Wolf Kahn, for a similar reason, even though his landscapes are very different from Rothko's abstracts.” While in Europe, Finch had exhibits in Paris, and Germany.
Moving to Northern California has again taken her work to a new level. “California is so visually stimulating, I cannot paint my emotional responses quickly enough to capture them all. I remember my first trip into the Sierras and not being able to breath. It wasn't the altitude,” she laughs, “we weren't that far above sea level yet!”
Through her use of color, Sheila strives to recreate strong, emotional impacts on the viewer. “I find I am drawn to images of landscapes that boarder on the abstract, and to abstracts which have a somewhat organic, defined nature,” she explains. Sheila has been featured multiple times by Gold River Scene Magazine and recognized by the National Arts Appreciation Program and Le Bateau Lavoir in Paris.
Carnegie Foundation, California
Intuit Corporation, California
Johnson & Johnson
Sutter Roseville Medical Center, California
The Lily Company, California
Charter Publishing Company, California