Painter Sherry Strickland Martin captures the landscape and the people of South Carolina in her intimate regional portfolio. Find more of her art on her website.
Some people know their path in life from a very young age. I can’t remember a time when I was not creating. I observed the constructs of what I was seeing and thought how to replicate the vision. Creating art has always been an identifiable part of who I am and what I do. It’s a God-given gift that I honor.
After earning my BA in Art Studio, I focused on regional juried exhibitions, commissions and contract work designing fabric and doing catalog illustration. My first solo museum exhibition came at age thirty, with my second following a few years later.
I moved to move to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and began working with interior designers. They wanted artwork, hand painted wallpaper, murals and gallery work. This led to art licensing. I gained licenses with Bentley House Publishers, designs for notes and magnets with Wellspring and a pattern for International China. And I acquired contracts for other products in the home decor and gift industries.
Life throws curve balls. I was called to teach in 2003 and I answered, accepting an art position at a high school. There, I wrote the curriculum structure for the new visual arts department.
Then breast cancer hit. I left Hilton Head for my home in the Hammock Coast of South Carolina to be nearer family through my recovery. During this time I again secured a teaching job. The Myrtle Beach wildfire of 2009 took our new home, and my artwork—more than 300 pieces.
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These events were a devastating blow to my personal art career. I left art licensing and my art behind, and focusing on what remained—teaching. As I began to heal and recover, the need to create consumed me with urgency. I felt a huge part of me missing without art.
I began rebuilding my studio and my body of work. Finding my passion again, I produced the best work of my life, work that nurtures my soul and is inspired by my coastal South Carolina. The Burroughs & Chaplin Myrtle Beach Art Museum took notice.
In 2018 my new solo exhibition titled “Roots Run Deep” opened, and nearly half the work sold. It was a rebirth of sorts, a coming home to my roots, both physically and career-wise.
I was trained primarily in oil painting, but my early discovery of watercolor intrigued me most. I have built my career and following in watercolor although I have recently begun adding a few oil paintings here and there. All my work, outside of commissioned pieces, center around my love of the South Carolina coast—it’s floral, fauna and people in their daily environment.
Viewers constantly tell me my work tells a visual story. I choose subjects in my genre that have the technical and challenging aspects I crave. I’m most captivated by how light eﬀects color and pattern. The fluidity of watercolor with its luminous layering eﬀects are what keep me obsessed with the medium and makes my breath catch.
Artist Sherry Strickland Martin invites you to follow her on Instagram.
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