Sponsored Content | Photos provided by The Art Group Gallery
The Art Group was founded nearly two decades ago when several Little Rock artists came together to share an art studio. In 2013, the artists officially opened a gallery, The Art Group Gallery, in Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center. Follow along as At Home in Arkansas interviews each of the group’s 17 artists to find out more about their inspirations and processes for creating.
At Home: Tell us a bit about your background. How did begin painting?
Shirley Anderson: My background is not in art. I have a BS degree in chemistry and math and an MBA. I worked in various labs and retired from a telecommunications company before I started my career in art. I started taking art lessons with 10-year-old kids right before I had the chance to retire and found out that I loved the peace it provided. I lost all concept of time and just immersed myself in the creative process—something that was not my nature as a typical “type A” personality. I have been working with a mentor, Richard McKinley, for the last eleven or twelve years. I really credit my progress in pastels to him. He is a wonderful instructor who says his mission is to make me the best artist I can be.
AH: Are pastels your primary medium?
SA: Yes, I mainly work with soft pastels, although I also work in oil and acrylic. I love the tactile nature of pastels since I hold the pastel sticks directly. When I work with pastels, I don’t have to worry about cleaning a brush or leaving the painting not knowing what I will find when I come back. Pastels are always exactly like you leave them.
AH: What about the subject matter of your pieces? Do you have a favorite?
SA: My artistic style is representational, and I normally focus on landscapes. I love to be outside and enjoy painting “plein air.” I try to allow the viewer to travel back through my paintings so I focus on making a two-dimensional painting represent a three-dimensional world. I hope that people feel the calm and peace in each of my paintings.
AH: Do you do most of your works in the outdoors?
SA: I have my own home studio where I can finish pieces that I may start outside. Of course, in the very hot summers of Arkansas and the cold weather in the winters, I work from photographic references. I capture photos when I see areas in nature that inspire me.
My studio also has space to frame my pieces; my husband is a wonderful framer. I usually try to take care of emails, paperwork, and administrative items in the mornings. I am definitely a night owl, so my best painting is during the afternoons and evenings. I normally work in my studio alone and don’t have any other things going on—no music, no audio books, and no noise.
AH: How would you describe the role art plays in your life today?
SA: Although I have retired from my original career now, I work almost full time in various aspects of art. I paint on a regular basis but also accepted several volunteer positions in art-related organizations. I serve as treasurer of the Arkansas Pastel Society and serve as one of the managers for the Art Group Gallery. I am also on the board of directors and the Executive Committee of the International Association of Pastel Societies and serve as the Exhibition Chair. The hardest part of “being an artist” is juggling the added responsibilities with actually producing art.
Learn more about Shirley Anderson and The Art Group gallery at artgrouparkansas.com.