Stillwater News Press

Arts & Entertainment

August 19, 2011

Tulsa artist opens exhibition at Oklahoma State University Foundation

STILLWATER, Okla. — Depending on how one looks at it, Sheila Parr has been painting either for 10 years or for much longer.

Parr, a Tulsa-based artist, is holding an exhibition at the Malinda Berry Fischer Gallery at the Oklahoma State University Foundation in Stillwater. Parr’s work will remain on display at the gallery until Sept. 30.

Parr began taking art instruction at the age of 62, which marked the beginning of her art career. However, she said, she thinks her affinity for painting began decades earlier.

When Parr was 4 years old, she painted her grandmother’s car with a can of green house paint. The experience served as something of a deterrent, she said, and turned her off the idea of painting in the future.

“I still have trouble mixing green paint,” she said.

Starting a career in art at 62 is different from beginning as a younger student, Parr said. She finds herself being much more cautious than young artists, she said, using smaller brush strokes and less paint.

Ten years after she began her work, Parr said, she has a better understanding of a number of factors that go into painting. She’s much more aware of shapes, shadows and lights against darks, she said.

She also tends to work much more slowly than she did in her early days as an artist. Parr said she is sometimes plagued by “the paralysis of analysis,” which can lead her to work much more slowly and carefully than she might have earlier in her career.

Parr said her work is representational in style, dealing in concrete images rather than abstract forms and designs. The scenes represented in her work all come from some period in her life, she said, whether it be taking a vacation in Santa Fe or spending an afternoon with her grandchildren. Each of the paintings tells a particular story, she said.

For example, the painting “Mother of the Bride” shows a chair with a crumpled dress and shoes. Parr said the painting was inspired by a friend who, after the wedding of her daughter, heaved a sigh of relief, went into her room, kicked off her shoes and shed her dress.

“If I do a ‘Father of the Bride,’ I’m going to do a tuxedo with empty pockets,” she said.

Several of her other works, including “Off Canyon Road” and “Clouds over Chimayo,” show scenes from Parr’s annual trips to New Mexico. Parr said those trips always provide a great deal of inspiration and subject matter.

Parr is a member of the board of directors for the OSU Friends of the Library. During the exhibit, 35 percent of the proceeds from the sale of her work will go to fund extended hours at the Edmon Low Library during finals week.

The Malinda Berry Fischer Art Gallery is inside the Oklahoma State University Foundation, 400 S. Monroe St. in Stillwater. The gallery is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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