I live with 5 chickens, 4 dogs, 3 cats, 2 sons, one husband and lots of cows at White Oak Farm, a working cattle farm in rural Virginia. It’s a crop circle of craziness!
I’ve been a maker as long as I can remember, growing up in the 60s with Captain Kangaroo. When he pulled out his shoebox of crayons and popsicle sticks, I was right with him making whatever he made. My father could make anything and fix anything so I learned early if you wanted something you made it yourself. I’ve been making things ever since…jewelry, mixed media, hand stitched goodies, cards, you name it. I also started writing children’s books after my youngest son graduated from high school.
I love seeing how other artists set up their creative space. Can you tell us a little bit your studio?
We built our home when we got married 30 years ago on the family farm, and at home I use a guest bedroom for everyday crafting. It’s set up with my sewing machine and a wall of shelves that are filled with way too many craft supplies. But when I began having Art Days last year, I set up a work space in my husband’s home place that is also here on the farm. Built in l908, it’s a typical farmhouse that he inherited some years ago. The downstairs is rented out, but I use the upstairs for my work space. I have a light airy room for classes, and a second room for lunch and snacks. The ceilings are high and the windows look out onto the farm. It’s not fancy, but it’s a wonderful peaceful space and everyone seems to enjoy coming for a day of making art.
What inspires you? What motivates you to create?
It’s cheaper than therapy! People always think farm living is all pretty scenery and quiet peacefulness, and it can be, but it’s also 24/7 and hard work. When you have 200 cows that need to be fed, you can’t leave and go to the beach for a week’s vacation. I learned early on that I would need to make my own entertainment and it needed to be at home. I’d always been creative and when my boys were little I wanted to encourage them to learn to entertain them- selves so making things was just the ticket. As they grew and I had more time for myself, I began having classes as a way to make a bit of extra money and stay home with them. Now, with art blogs and Pinterest etc…I’m like a kid in a candy store waking up every day asking myself “what can I make today?” I love online classes too.
How do you organize your creative schedule?
My schedule is directed by what’s happening on the farm. Spring through Fall are busy times and though I don’t do farm work, I do drive my husband and sons from field to field when they have equipment to move…I am pretty much on call all the time. I keep a notebook for writing and a sketchbook for art play with me when I’m on the go so if I have to sit in a field for an hour I can enjoy the quiet and play while I wait. My children are grown so at this stage, my time is more my own now. I tend to work in spurts rather than regularly. I write that way too. I cannot sit and write every day unless I am working on a book. Once I have a story in my head, I write it. With art, I doodle all the time – watching TV, sitting in a field, or in the afternoons on the front porch.
What is a typical day like for you?
We get up and have breakfast then I spend the morning doing house chores. If the fellows need a ride, they call so I’m never far from the phone. If they need parts, I run to town for them. Everyone comes in for lunch at 12, or if they are away (we have fields in various parts of the county) I pack up some lunch and take it to them, which is nice if the weather is good….we can eat in the back of the pick-up. The afternoon is reserved for laundry and whatever project I am working on…sewing, jewelry, painting, mixed media, writing etc…till time to fix supper. As you can see, meals are a big part of my day and since we all work together, we eat together as well usually…feeding 3 men all over 6’ takes a lot of time (and food!)
What are you working on right now?
As I said before, I have an Art Day at least once a year, and spend a good deal of time preparing for it this time of year. The first weekend in May I have 12 women into the studio/work space to make art and eat snacks and have lunch. I’m in the process of making plans for this year. I’m also working on some collage projects for fun and started a sketchbook where I am trying to do a page a day…It’s a new discipline for me. I just finished sewing a Japanese style smock because I am so very messy when I make art and I love it so I’m going to make another one. It pretty much covers me from head to toe!
Want to see more of Sharon?
Check out her website is www.sharonpstanley.com
Her latest children’s book is The Little Dog in the Middle of the Road
Check out her blog www.farmandfrufru.blogspot.com