Sheila Perry in the Studio

Sheila Perry in the Studio

Sheila dreamed of having an artistic life, but just like many of us, practical considerations came along and she made a career in elementary school teaching instead.

Now, after having studied the Complete Online Drawing Course with mentor Tannis Trydal Sheila is now making plans to retire, devote her time to making art and helping others to do the same.

I asked Sheila to chat with me about her artworks, her DrawPj experience and advice for beginners. Here’s what Sheila had to say.

Interview with Sheila Perry by Cindy Wider

English Robin painting from photo by Terence Porter

English Robin painting from reference photo by Terence Porter

Q. Hi Sheila, please could you introduce yourself and tell us something about where you are from.

A. My name is Sheila Perry and I am 58 years old. I live with my husband, Jim, (37 years married!), in rural Chatfield, Minnesota, on 13 acres in the country. All of our 4 children are grown. We have 1 granddaughter, Ingrid, and our second one is due in April! We have two awesome dogs that make us laugh every day! They are Homer and Jetta.

I live in south eastern Minnesota. I live in the country surrounded by hills and trees. It’s beautiful in the summer but the winters can be brutal!

I have been working in elementary education for 28 years. Currently I am a third grade teacher. I hope to retire in a couple of years so I can spend more time making art!

Mouse and Acorn by Sheila Perry from photo by Paul Fine

Mouse and Acorn painting by Sheila Perry from reference photo by Paul Fine

Where it all started

Q. Sheila, can you tell me how you got started with art and drawing?

A. I have always felt I was an artistic person and had a dream of having a studio and making art. When I went to college I thought I would major in art, but then I thought I needed to be able to get a job. So then I thought I would be an art teacher, but realized I still needed to get a job. So then I decided to major in Elementary Education knowing I could get a job in that! So art took a back shelf to my work and family.

It wasn’t until my kids had grown up and left the house that I decided to take some classes in drawing and painting. That was when my passion for making art really flourished. I have only been doing art for about 5 ½ years.

Barn Owl by Sheila Perry from photo by Bryn Ditheridge

Barn Owl painting by Sheila Perry from reference photo by Bryn Ditheridge

Favourite Art Equipment

Q. What’s your favourite piece of drawing equipment?

A. Ohhhh there are so many! I think one of my favorite is the Derwent pencil sharpener. It makes such nice points.

Q. What kind of pencils and paper do you prefer?

A. Derwent pencils of course! They are amazing! I prefer using Arches cold press paper and Saunders cold press too.

Austrailian Rainbow Bee Eater by Sheila Perry from photo by Trish Hemmingsen

Australian Rainbow Bee Eater painting by Sheila Perry from reference photo by Trish Hemmingsen

What’s Sheila doing now?

Q. What kind of artworks are you creating now?

A. I still mostly paint in watercolor. I prefer painting fairly realistic subjects like birds.

Q. How would you describe your art style?

A. I think my style is realistic. I like to draw using photo references to give me inspiration.

Q. What’s your favourite drawing that you’ve created?

A. I don’t know that I have a favorite. I always think that the one I’m working on is my favorite!

Grey Heron by Sheila Perry

Grey Heron painting by Sheila Perry

Discovering DrawPj

Q. How did you discover DrawPj.com?

A. A good friend of mine, Laura Rud, had taken the course and she often would share different techniques that she learned. Plus she said how invaluable the course was to her own art journey in developing her skills as an artist. I was able to see her before and after self-portrait and was blown away by how much she improved.

Q. How would you rate your art skills before you began studying?

A. I painted, I really didn’t draw. I was very limited in what I could do. Because I didn’t have any drawing background I felt I really needed to work on this to help with painting.

Pre-instruction self-portrait by Sheila (left) and self-portrait created during the course (right)

Pre-instruction self-portrait by Sheila (left) and self-portrait created during the course (right)

Q. When you began studying with DrawPj you created a pre-instruction drawing. What do you think when you look at that drawing now?

A. I am amazed at what I was able to accomplish with the course! How is it possible that I can even do that?

Q. How did DrawPj and Cindy’s courses help you to achieve the standard of artworks that you are creating

A. It has helped me to be a better artist overall. I think especially being aware of perspective and paying attention to tone. I put all of my lessons and activities into a binder and this has been so helpful in referring to when I have needed to go back and refresh on a particular skill.

Owl by Sheila Perry from photo by Kay Horrock

Owl painting by Sheila Perry from reference photo by Kay Horrock

Q. What’s been your favourite thing about studying with DrawPj?

A. Oh that would have to be Tannis Trydal! She was amazing as my mentor. She gave me such great feedback about my art practice. She’s was so encouraging and supportive during my progress with the course.

Sheila’s Drawing Super power

Q. If you were a drawing superhero what would your special drawing super-power be?

A. Reflected light area on the edge! I never knew there was such a thing! So helpful when looking at art!

Sheila Perry

Sheila Perry

Advice for Beginner Artists

Q. What words of advice would you give to a beginner student who is just starting out?

Just do it! There is never going to be a right time so you might as well as do it now. Give yourself time to do this. Practice, practice, practice. So many people tell me I’m such a natural talent. That is so far from the truth. I work at it! Anyone can do this if you put in the time and effort. Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Only compare to your own progress.

Q. Is there a lesson or word of wisdom that you’ve learned from Cindy, the instructor team or the course that has been particularly helpful to you?

A. It was all so helpful. It was hard too! But I learned so much. I am really glad that I chose the mentor option do complete the course. It was worth the money to get the feedback about what I was working on to improve my technique. It was very timely and constructive. Much better than I could ever have gotten going to college!

What’s Next for Sheila?

Q. What are your plans for your drawing and art in the future?

A. I hope to retire from teaching in the next couple of years. Then I want to devote my time to making art and teaching others too! Being an artist really fills my bucket and makes me feel so good.

More from Sheila

Q. Where can we see more of your artwork?

A. Sheila Perry Watercolor on Facebook and www.sheilaperrywatercolor.com

More about the DrawPj Mentoring Program

Find out more here or just contact us.