The Painting Pair - Sharyn & Jim Evert
May 01, 2010 09:43PM ● Published by Don Kindred
by Bill Thomas
Sharyn Britton Evert grew up in New York. For the majority of her life, she withstood snow, ice, cold winters, multiple colored leaf changes, and brisk, unfriendly winds. Now, as an accomplished and highly acclaimed local oil painter, she recreates the opposite works of art: sun, beaches, warmth and the active life on the other side of the United States. Painting had not been part of Sharon’s early school years. She enjoyed a varied, exciting young life moving throughout the world, following an active father who served as the aviation commander for U.S. Special Forces. She didn’t take up serious painting until 2000, an example of a late start in a competitive creative endeavor.
Marrying husband Jim, a former IBM executive, and raising four children, she also kept busy with her own accounting and bookkeeping business in New York - Bookkeepers Ink, identified by a quilled pen logo. When Jim retired after 30 years with the Big Blue, he had an opportunity to move across the country and continue his career heading the Irvine Sensors company. He and Sharyn settled in San Clemente in the late 1990’s, whereupon she began taking art lessons, first in acrylics, then oils. In this foreign western locale, to contribute to local life, meet new friends and stay active, both Everts became volunteers extraordinaire. Jim served on Dana Point’s Ocean Institute Board of Directors, became president of the local Sunrise Rotary Club, and joined the Friends of the San Clemente Library Association. Sharon became active in the Capistrano Assistance League, most recently heading the group’s popular home tour program. She also worked with children’s activities for the Ocean Institute and as president of volunteers, and presently serves as house manager of the Cabrillo Theatre. She paints, usually a seascape, for the Exchange Club’s annual Life Guard of the Year Award. She also plays tennis, first at the Laguna Niguel Racquet Club, and then at Rancho San ClementeTennis and Fitness Club.
The Everts also began the tradition of hosting their five grandchildren every July at the beaches, surf and surroundings of their adopted new home. Sharyn’s early art subjects were her grandchildren. She captured them in various activities as their interests evolved, building sandcastles, running on the beach, swimming through waves, boggie boarding and surfing. The paintings reflect her passionate love for children. She also expanded her artistic interests to include painting historical buildings and seascapes, among other subjects.
Ironically, Evert’s blossoming profession is also Jim’s new career venture. They’re an art team. Sharyn is the painter. Jim does the analytical work, cuts, pastes, glues, reproduces giclees and post cards and sets up all the exhibits. Sharyn lovingly calls him, “My common laborer.”
She started serious painting, she said, “…taking workshops and joining the San Clemente Art Association. Even though I was totally untrained, I had this crazy desire to paint, paint, paint. I wanted to capture as many images as possible: structures, landscapes, oceanscapes and people. Periodically, I’d call my father, who’s become a superb painter on the East Coast, for advice on painting techniques. I also took some workshops with an excellent artist, Robin Holmes, who works with people who want to grow.”
Remarking about the first painting Sharyn sold Jim reminisced, “One day, viewing one of Sharyn’s early pieces of a hot dog stand in front of the Ocean Institute, a lady asked, ‘How much is that painting?’ Sharyn had never sold one before. ‘You’ve captured my life,’ she said. ‘How much can I buy it for?’ She gave us $200.”
At first, Sharyn painted solely for family and friends. However, her creations of children engaged in children’s activities hastened sales. “People seemed to relate to whatever I was painting,” Sharyn said. “It was amazing. It’s as if I’d captured their memories when I’d hear, ‘That looks just like my two girls,’ or ‘My son used to run like that.’ They liked paintings that showed action. I felt good about giving people a memory they could keep forever.”
Now a professional, but still an art student, she continues her art study with Pam Flesner, a Laguna Niguel art teacher.
“When I started showing at the San Clemente Art Association, Jim looked at the prices on all the paintings, so we could value our own. We sold two almost immediately, both of my grandchildren, one with a little puppy. We made $750 for one, $850 for the other. As the originals sold, Jim looked for ways to reproduce them. He began making prints and giclees, with the help of Gary Zuercher, a local San Clemente artist and photographer.”
These reproductions, along with post cards and miniature look-alikes make Sharyn’s work affordable for almost everyone.
Sharyn and Jim have six spaces to publicly exhibit their works, including Beach Fire Restaurant, Avenida Del Mar, Laguna Beach, Oltre Mare restaurant, and the Art Association’s changing displays at the San Clemente Community Center.
“When Dave Donaldson began using paintings in his Beach Fire, I sold four paintings right away and continue to exhibit there,” Sharyn said. “We bought a tent in 2001 and joined the vendors selling their goods on Del Mar the first Sunday of each month. Jim has become kind of the ‘mayor of the street.’ He talks to everyone who walks by. After all, he was a city councilman in New York. People stop by and want paintings. Some even say I’m getting even better as a painter. They’ve inspired me. They make me work harder. I’ve had more commissioned requests. They want me to paint their children, their dogs, their cars. We developed a large clientele with our street selling. There are even those who collect my paintings.”
Sharyn also joined 11 other artists who own and operate The Quorum Gallery in Laguna Beach. “We share all the responsibilities, meeting once a month, and taking turns overseeing our gallery. We have guest artists exhibiting every two months, and it runs smoothly. I do the bookkeeping,” added this very active lady.
Most recently, her creations began hanging on the walls of the Pier Bowl’s popular Oltre Mare Italian restaurant. “Along with that, I love the various art contests the Art Association sponsors; I’ve even won a few awards,” she commented.
Asked about her favorite paintings, Sharyn was quick to comment. “Right after 9/11, I captured an American flag placed at half mast on a piece of driftwood on the beach. It was a very emotional painting; I titled it ‘9/11 Coast to Coast.’”
San Clemente’s Sun Post newspaper carried this ‘moment of truth’ as a cover picture.
One of her most popular paintings, which has been duplicated in many forms from giclee to post card, is of Schleppy’s shack on the San Clemente pier. “I’m painting another one for the new owner,” Sharyn remarked.
Pam Hill, Director of San Clemente’s 57-year-old Art Association commented, “I remember how excited Sharyn was when she sold her first painting. It was of her granddaughter at the beach and very well done. People connect with paintings that artists have done with emotion and care. If they don’t, it’s probably because it’s flat and painted just to sell. Not Sharyn’s.”
Journalist John Hall, in one of his news columns for the Sun Post, credited Jim’s ‘working Del Mar’ with being “… glad talk about books as well as art and, also, of course, relate the latest charity events.” Steve Kell, President of San Clemente’s Art Association suggested, “Sharon’s art reflects her personality: bright, colorful, imaginative and brave.”
Her art teacher, Pam Flesner, of Laguna Niguel, said, “Over the years, with our weekly sessions she has improved remarkably. She listens well; she paints with emotion; she understands color values; and she has a knack for choosing her subjects.”
Fellow painter Jim Krogle wrote, “I’ve known Sharyn for many years and watched her develop into an excellent Fine Artist. It’s a pleasure being her neighbor at the monthly San Clemente Village Art Fair, and, in the last year, I’ve seen tremendous improvement in her brushwork and subtle color palate. Her rendition of the San Clemente Pier (view from the ocean) is a real winner. From time to time, I’ll notice her working on a new painting at the Fair, and she’ll ask for a short critique. It’s great fun talking with her about art because she really absorbs every bit of information; you can see it in her development. Recently, she finished a painting titled ‘Under the Trestles’ that is a knockout. Aside from the fact that she’s become a dedicated Fine Artist, Sharyn and her husband Jim are just ‘cool people.’” And that’s not the end of their story …b See Sharon Evert’s work at the San Clemente Art & Craft Fair – August 21-22, and the SC Exchange Club Award Program, September 9.