COLORS OF THE COSMOS

BY JOANNE XU

It starts with a simple stroke: across a clean surface, in the margins of a journal, on a scrap of loose paper. Strokes turn into shapes, shapes into objects, and so on. One drifts into a melodious dance of brush to canvas until suddenly, magically, all these little objects have translated into a masterpiece. The evolution of rendering a single piece of inspiration into a real work of art is delicate, intimate and often unpredictable.

This was the case the first time Sharon Grimes ever took pencil to paper and created art. A hairdresser by trade, Grimes turned to sketching as a means of expression during a midcareer burnout. She fell in love with the entire craft. Sketching expanded to watercolor painting, which ultimately led Grimes to acrylic painting, a medium that infuses much of her work today.

What quickly followed was an emotional awakening that prompted Grimes to pursue a full-time life immersed in the art of painting. Today, the selftaught contemporary abstract artist finds that painting brings a vibrant and expressive texture to life—the kind that warms the soul with passion and vigor.

Just as anything beautiful must begin with a flicker of inspiration, Grimes captures ideas from the universe and its infinitely intricate complexions of color, texture and light: the gentle gradient of color that lazily washes over the sky at sunset, the way a gleam of light settles on a leaf and sparkles like a diamond. “I watch the way that the sun peeks from behind a cloud at the instant before it moves into my vision,” says Grimes. Her paintings, like the cosmos, are complicated, graceful and thought-provoking.

Next comes a selection of color from every bend of the spectrum, until an array of curated hues is artfully dolloped onto a palette—even the process of choosing paint is an art in itself for Grimes. With a palette knife, colors are swirled and spread and mixed until the composition starts to evolve. There, she crafts the very beginnings of what will become her newest work of art. Every step is a guessing game, as her intuition guides her across the canvas. “I am sometimes sure of the composition when I start,” says Grimes, “but it’s likely to change along the way, so I remain open to my instincts and to the process.”


Like any truly inspired soul, Grimes reflects upon her finished works with a sweet, sentimental attachment, but never allows her feelings for one painting to affect her progress on the next; the completion of one does not hinder the creation of another, nor does it stop her from painting over a freshly finished piece, if she feels so inclined. And, she won’t stop building—adding and subtracting—until her vision becomes reality.

“Art is very much about problem solving,” says Grimes. “Every painting goes through a problematic phase. Finishing a piece builds confidence that you can work through even the most painful of issues, and you feel competent for a few moments. It mirrors life that way.” Like the fiery passion of the sun and the calculated phases of the moon, Grimes finds a way to express emotion and logic in her art.

For Grimes, practicing her craft is the only time she feels entirely secure in the present moment. This is what she strives for viewers to experience when they observe her art—a split second in which time seemingly stands still, and one is entirely immersed in the essence of the painting. Grimes doesn’t ever plan to let go of that intoxicating feeling. “I don’t ever intend to stop painting, as long as I’m physically able,” the artist says. “Even then, I’ll probably be creating art in my head.”

Joanne Xu is a part-time freelance writer and blogger living in Austin.