Karen Sherwood graduated with BA (Hons) Fine art from Sheffield Hallam University in 1990. In her own words “having had a desire and passion for many years to open a gallery, a bizarre series of events and a temporary fit of madness led to me opening Cupola Gallery in 1991.” This radical decision led to Ms Sherwood putting her own painting practice on the back burner for many years due to the enormous challenges involved in this exciting venture.

She once explained that she felt she was never going to be the artist she wanted to be but felt she did have a talent and ability to celebrate and sell artworks made by others. Ms Sherwood also had a desire to showcase contemporary artworks that were ‘of a more challenging nature’ and felt that her own work wasn’t necessarily suitable for her own gallery.

Although Ms Sherwood did continue her own practice, two children and running the gallery led to a hiatus in production of around 12 years. In 2012 a generous offer from a kind friend resulted in a visit to the fabulous Northumberland coast. This inspirational coastline essentially rebooted her painting practice. Initially her painting was fairly topographical and typically included recognisable Northumbrian coastlines and landmark castles all be it in expressive painterly form.

Since these early works Ms Sherwood has continued to develop her painting practice. The depiction of light is always a key component in her paintings as she is hugely inspired by the genius of Joseph Mallard William Turner. She now describes her paintings as a medium for expressing her wider experience of the world through the language of expressive or abstract landscape or seascape painting. Her recent exhibition at Cupola Contemporary Art, Sheffield 2021, titled ‘Of no places in particular’ gave voice to this idea.

“Although I draw ‘en plein air’ regularly, I never start a painting with a plan or a place in mind. I simply start by layering paint marks and colour in a totally unselfconscious abstract manner. It may seem wasteful but it is only through the physical act of painting can I reach a place where I allow my unconscious or subconscious self a voice. In the same way that Michelangelo said he was only there to uncover the sculpture hidden in the rock, I aim to paint until something resonates with me.

My colour palette is also dictated in this way. Currently there is a lot of blue, but this I know will change, when and how I do not know, but it will. I feel that all the wrong turns, the blind alleys and the accidental marks are what makes the final pieces. The history, or the journey if you will, of the painting, is tied into the final piece. Every painting has nearly failed so many times, but it is the constant battle which I hope gives an energy or ‘gutsy’ feel to the pieces. Each painting is rarely lightly won, and maybe, I might feel cheated if it was.”

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