Local painter gets inspired, develops talents in retirement
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There’s no telling how many artists have been inspired by Bob Ross, the painter who gave us “happy little trees” during his program on PBS.
Sharon Schoenfeld is one of them. This native of Wisconsin and transplant from California moved to East Tennessee about seven years ago to retire. She said she was very familiar with Ross’s work and told herself “I can do that.”
Turns out, she could. Schoenfeld picked up the paint brush about three years ago with the intentions of seeing just how far her talents would take her. Her husband built her an art studio at their Sevierville home and she’s not stopped having fun since.
Schoenfeld, just like Ross, works in oils. Her subjects are landscapes, animals and historic structures. She is just one of more than 60 talented artists and crafters who will be participating in the 37th annual New Midland Plaza Fall Arts and Crafts Fair that runs Friday through Saturday in Alcoa.
You might instantly recognize some of the subjects of her work. She’s fond of painting places like Newfound Gap, Laurel Falls and other high points in the Great Smoky Mountains. She paints bears. She has traipsed the Blue Ridge Parkway and documented what she saw on canvas. The lion at the Knoxville Zoo is also a subject.
Despite only painting for a few years, Schoenfeld has already earned recognition locally. She entered five of her oil paintings in the Sevier County Fair and won five blue ribbons.
It has definitely been a learning process, this artist said.
“The first painting that I did is hidden away,” she revealed. “It wasn’t that bad. It was a Bob Ross-type painting. That is what got me started but I have moved on.”
Schoenfeld has shown her work in Knoxville and at the annual arts and crafts show in Lenoir City. She is relatively new to the art show scene but said it’s been a great learning tool. “It’s nice to get feedback and encouragement,” she said.
Revealed in time
Before retiring and moving to Sevierville, Schoenfeld was a flight attendant, and also worked for a travel company and phone company. She said at the time, she was just too busy to develop her desire to paint. Now she has time.
“The talent must have been there and hidden for so long and now it’s coming out,” Schoenfeld said. Retirement, she said, is a time to discover what you really want to do.
Right now, Schoenfeld sells only original oil paintings, but she is looking into finding a printer who can make quality prints. She works mostly from photographs and said she can take one of a family pet or old home place and turn it into something beautiful and meaningful.
Covered bridges, old barns, silos, trees with character, scenes created in her head — all have made their way onto the canvas. She said creating art has given her a keener eye and the need to always have a camera nearby.
“Since I have started painting I have become more aware of clouds and other things in nature,” the artist said.
Schoenfeld and her husband love to travel, a necessity, she said, if she wants to expand her talent. So far it’s been a great ride.