Interview with Sherrie McGraw
By: Linda R. Fisler October 11, 2021
Do you want to know which is the most listened to Art Chat? It is a discussion with artist Sherrie McGraw with close to 30,000 listens to date!
On September 20, 2012, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sherrie McGraw on AMO Art Chat. (Please note: this was the beginning year of Art Chat when I had two cohosts during the interview. In addition, it was hosted Blog Talk Radio, unlike today’s chats conducted through Zoom.) Sherrie McGraw has been at the forefront of the American art scene for over thirty years. However, as a young woman in Oklahoma City in 1978, she was urged by her teachers Richard and Edith Goetz to move to New York to study at the famed Art Students League, where they had learned within the lineage of Robert Brackman and Geroge Bridgeman. In their initial years at the League, she studied primarily with legendary artist David Leffel and learned anatomy through Robert Beverly Hale and Jon Zehourek.
After just a few years in New York, she was already proceeding to make her way as an exceptional artist. She began exhibiting and winning awards in shows at the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, the Pastel Society, the Hudson Valley Art Association, and more. By the time she was thirty, she was teaching classes at the Art Students League, taking over the courses of Thomas Fogarty and Gustav Rehberger and conducting her own. Today, she teaches workshops around the world and through her studio in Taos.
We talked with Sherrie about her best-selling and highly acclaimed book, “The Language of Drawing From An Artist’s Viewpoint.” Throughout the discussion, Sherrie provides a great perspective on why drawing is so important to the painting. The drawing should “unify or provide a sense of what the subject is doing.” She also adds that “What all good draftsmen should know is how to capture the life of the subject.” We talked about capturing the gesture and how that is so important in figurative or portrait painting and landscape painting. What we may fail to do in our rush to capture the landscape is to observe the gesture of the tree or subject. What is that gesture telling us, and is that the reason we noticed it? The gesture of a person, tree, or flower can convey so much emotionally that it is important to capture it correctly. The drawing foundation and strong composition are what grab the viewer from across the room. It is what draws them in, and then it is our responsibility to keep the viewer there, providing a path for the viewer to explore throughout the painting.
Linda included this monochromatic painting of a David Austin rose to share with you. In the upcoming Chat, Create, and Cocktails paint in (on November 4th at 8:00 PM Eastern), Linda will discuss why she enjoys starting her paintings this way. Study the design and gestures of the petals.
In this interview, Sherrie shares her study of past masters like Rembrandt, Hals, Van Dyck, and Reubens. She discusses how a trained eye can identify the works of these past masters without the help of their signature. She states, “To the casual viewer, there is little or no distinction, but to the trained eye, there is a world of difference. Each of these artists has distinctly different intentions and paint application, which is, in fact, their real signatures.” She shares her experience of being invited to view a Rembrandt to determine if, indeed, it was a Rembrandt. She comments that when you consider a great painting and study it, it just gets better and better, and you never tire of it. Conversely, if you view a bad painting, it just gets worse the more you look at it.
Sherrie’s information and tips in this interview will be valuable information for any artist. We thank Sherrie for her time and her book “The Language of Drawing: From An Artist’s Viewpoint.” Unfortunately, this short blog doesn’t do the interview justice, so we urge you to listen to the interview to relish the beauty of line and form discussion.
You can listen to this historical Art Chat here: