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Sharon Forthofer joins the fold at Rail Walk Studios and Gallery

By Susan Shinn
Salisbury Post
This is the time of year to enjoy the great outdoors and Sharon Forthofer, paintbrush in hand, is doing just that.
She found Plein Air Carolina online soon after moving here with her husband Jerry.
“I love doing plein air painting,” says Sharon, 59, a retired teacher.
Through that group, she met Annette Hall, one of the artists at Rail Walk Studios.
Now Sharon has joined that group, too.
“There’s such good opportunity here,” Sharon says of the art community at Rail Walk. “It’s much better than painting in a bedroom at home.”
Her first solo show at Rail Walk opens June 1. The opening reception is 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 6, at the studios, 409 N. Lee St.
The couple first rented a house in Locust, then bought a home in Rockwell, splitting the driving between Sharon’s studio and Jerry’s job with Palm Harbor Homes.
“I fell in love with downtown Salisbury,” Sharon says. “I don’t think people realize what they have here.”
Since she lived in Stanly County, Sharon is also a member of the Stanly Arts Guild, and works once a week at Falling Rivers Art Gallery in Albemarle.
“I volunteer there, because when you show art at a gallery, it’s nice to spend some time there, too,” Sharon says.
Sharon has been painting for about eight years.
“I just love learning about it so I can paint as well as I can,” she says. “If I want to do it, I want to do it right.”
Sharon paints with oil and watercolor. Her subjects typically include still lifes, florals and landscapes. She does portraits and still lifes by commission.
Her booth now is full of numerous oil paintings in small sizes, ranging from stacks of paintings that are 8×10 to 9×12 to 11×14 to larger pieces on display as well.
Sharon loves the collegial atmosphere at Rail Walk.
“We all paint so different,” she says. “We kind of support each other. It’s really a unique opportunity to be able to rent a space for a reasonable amount and work together with other artists. It’s wonderful.”
Other artists in the Rail Walk fold include Marietta Smith, Patt Legg, Annette Hall, Jimmy Alston and Norma Velasquez-Frink.
Sharon tries to paint every day, any time she has time.
“If you paint every day,” she says, “it just becomes more natural.”
She keeps a sketch book and a digital camera in her purse.
“I’m always thinking about art,” she says.
She’s in the studio on Wednesday and Saturday and she uses a traveling easel in her small booth.
A native of Indiana, she’s lived in Texas and Missouri before coming here. In Missouri, she started a giclee print business, Tanglewood Brushstrokes, which she still offers.
She’s happy to be settled in Salisbury. She and her husband plan to retire here. They have a son in Davidson and a daughter in Kingsport, Tenn.
Even though Rail Walk is a busy place ó there was a lot of hammering going on next door the day we visited ó the hubbub doesn’t bother Sharon.
“I totally tune out everything when I’m painting,” Sharon says in a soft voice. “I don’t even notice if it’s too hot or too cold.”
Sharon took band when she was in high school ó which precluded her from studying art. With her music background, she’s always looking for rhythm in her art.
One of her pieces, “Bloomin’ Perfect,” was included in a book on how to paint flowers.
“I’m pretty traditional,” she says. “I try to use a limited palette so all the colors are unified. I look for the rhythm and flow of leaves that occurs naturally in nature. It gives some life, then, to a still life.”
She added smaller pots to the larger pots of red geraniums to create depth.
“I pay real close attention to darks and lights. I’m kind of a realist, I guess,” she says, “but I like my impression of the real object.”
For more information about Sharon Forthofer’s show, call the artist at 704-209-3340.

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