Eight decades of living color artist"s paintings

By Lynn Porter

Carmen Sherbeck has had a compulsion for most of her 85 years. It will be on display at the Jewish Community Center through Aug. 19.

Sherbeck is an artist, and has been one since childhood. She began selling her work even before she got married in her early 20s.

``I've painted and drawn ever since I can remember,'' said Sherbeck, a Redmond resident. ``... It's just a compulsion. There's just some things you simply cannot explain, and that's one of them.''

Sherbeck's show at the JCC features oil paintings, as well as delicate watercolors for sale.

Her subject matter is as varied as her life.

Some of the pieces depict places she and her husband of 62 years, Adair, have traveled, such as New Zealand and Italy, which they visited seven times. Some are of household objects, such as the Oriental dowry rug that she had in her home in Virginia -- of the kind young girls make to show they can ``be an asset'' in marriage, said Sherbeck. Some are of local destinations, such as Mount Rainier.

Shlomit Weil-Piechenick, art coordinator for the JCC, first saw Sherbeck's work when it was displayed recently as part of a contest for local artists produced by the Redmond Historical Society where Weil-Piechenick volunteers.

What struck her was the subtle nature of the watercolors.

``The touches of the brush were so gentle, like the Japanese style,'' she said.

Sherbeck, the mother of three grown children, didn't study art in college. But she learned from fine artists in Virginia where she lived for 47 years. She won 83 jury awards, she said, during that period. She also has had one-woman shows.

If an idea for a painting hits ``I've got to go do it,'' said Sherbeck who works in two-hour spurts in a studio apartment in the same complex where she and her husband moved seven years ago.

``In two hours you're tired mentally,'' she said. ``Every stroke you make is a decision.''

Her favorites are watercolors because she has to create quickly before the water dries.

``That just suits me,'' Sherbeck said. ``... I guess it's just impatience to get it done and see what happens.''

Born in Seattle and raised on the West Coast, Sherbeck has been a homemaker most of her married life. But the work she has done has been art-related. She designed layouts for advertisements at an agency in Rochester, N.Y. She also worked at a department store in Montreal, Canada, designing windows while her husband was earning his Ph.D. in chemistry at McGill University.

``I had to have something ready for 28 windows every second Monday,'' said Sherbeck.

Weil-Piechenick describes Sherbeck as being full of life.

Her oil paintings, with their active strokes, mimic the the artist's own vitality, she said.

``When you see the paintings, immediately you want to know more about this person.''

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