ON EXHIBIT: Shelia Harrington

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Sheila Harrington Explores Seasonal Delights in “Each Day is a Celebration”

"First Fruit," oil on canvas, 6"x6" by Sheila Harrington.
“First Fruit,” oil on canvas, 6″x6″ by Sheila Harrington.

Artist Sheila Harrington has always been fascinated with the cyclical, seasonal changes of life, how human beings respond, and the juxtaposition of the natural and man-made. A year living in the French countryside provided Harrington with ample inspiration and content to document the ever-changing natural world around her. Her solo exhibit of oil paintings,“ Each Day is a Celebration,” will be featured in The Art League Gallery October 8–November 1, 2015.

After years of drawing the shift in seasons, often food-related, in her sketchbook, Harrington returned to oil painting to further explore the subject in a small format. Harrington spent the past year living in France, in the Dordogne region and the Languedoc, surrounded by verdant countryside and abundant, fresh produce. Inspiration abounded from every direction. Daily walks through markets and lush gardens yielded ideas for new “still life scapes,” as seasonal objects such as figs, tulips, and pears begged to be painted.

Once Harrington found the primary object for a new painting, she would work on creating a narrative. By incorporating elements of still life, landscape, and architecture, Harrington would build a sense of story within the small canvas, creating a visual feast for the viewer. “I love shape, color, and form but am more satisfied when creating and painting a complex story. I’m drawn to the relationship between natural and man-made objects.”

Harrington paints from life but takes photos of her most fragile subjects for later reference. The small framework makes her work feel intimate, and it allows her to work quickly before her objects perish. Working in oil allows her to build layers of color and to develop a rich, velvety, voluptuous quality that lends itself to the organic forms in nature.

Harrington is a painter, illustrator, and graphic designer whose work has ranged from portraiture to print design to museum exhibition graphics. She is a partner with her artist/designer husband, James Symons, in the Washington, DC art and design firm Studio Five. She maintains an art blog, “Each Day is a Celebration,” with the goal of posting something celebratory, such as a sketch, painting, illustrated poem, or fragment of history, each day. Her work has been exhibited throughout the Washington, DC region and is held in many private and public collections.

This exhibit can be seen at The Art League Gallery, 105 North Union Street, Studio 21, (located in the Torpedo Factory Art Center), Alexandria, VA 22314. www.theartleague.org. 703-683-1780.