Two artists, ‘Shared Views’

By Karen Ander Francis

Photo: Sigalia Cannon (right) and Sherraid Scott; photo: Corrine Bayraktaroglu
“Easy like Sunday mornings,” the 1980s song lyrics by The Commodores, evoke a pace free from hurry and worry, rushing and bluster, the final hours of respite from work. The Sunday morning that I drove to Yellow Springs was anything but. In the midst of an early August, multi-day deluge, wind whipping rain across the road, windshield wipers thwopping at their fastest speed, I arrived on a quiet tree-lined street, not far from Glen Helen Nature Preserve. Sherraid Scott’s Japanese-style house was itself an island of quiet, surrounded by old trees, fronted by a lovely garden, lush and shining with rainwater. Never mind the clutter of a studio under construction, “easy like Sunday morning,” whispered in the raindrops that plonked in the tree canopy overhead, at once soothing the white-knuckle tension of the 30-minute drive.

For the past 20 years or so, Scott and Sigalia Cannon have created their own version of Sunday morning ease, painting together from 10 a.m. ’til noon—always rendering a unique interpretation of the same view.

Preferring to work outdoors, the two typically drive around, scout a place to stop and paint, set up their gear, and get to work. Except, that is, in deep winter when they withdraw indoors for still lifes.

Using different media (Scott with watercolor or acrylic, Cannon with tempura or oils), they adhere to a strict two-hour period, working fast to capture an evanescent moment in time.

“If you work too long at it, you spoil it,” Cannon explains. “Nature is always in motion—the light changes, clouds move—making it impossible to return to the same scene for corrections. The challenge is to capture these moments.

“It’s always full of surprises,” she says of the moment of the reveal.  “We see the same view differently. Sherri might emphasize the complicated and interesting shapes of the branches in the foreground,” Cannon says of Scott’s work.

But Scott observes that Cannon perceives color much more intensely. Their individual interpretations prove that people can look at the same thing and see it quite differently, as will those who view their work at Yellow Springs Arts Council. “We laugh when we notice, time and again, that my trees and vases come out extra tall, while Sherri’s come out extra wide,” Cannon says. But this is no surprise to even a casual observer of the two women side-by-side. Cannon is rail thin and very tall. Scott is closer to the ground, and rounder.

What led these women to form this unique partnership?

In the 1990s, after teaching college English in Japan for 30 years, Scott started where many people do. She connected with former high school classmates. It was at a class reunion that she met Cannon, the spouse of a fellow high school alum. The women soon discovered their mutual love of art, and both admitted to wanting support and company in trying something new.

“At heart, I am a printmaker. Watercolor and acrylics are my hobby, done for fun and relaxation,” Scott says, who had studied art while a student at Antioch College and later learned printing while teaching in Japan. Printmaking has remained her first love, but she enjoys the challenges that watercolors and acrylics present.

On the other hand, until she met Scott, Cannon had very little experience with art, although her mother had studied art in Paris in the 1920s and ’30s. She and a school chum received some painting lessons from her mother, and sometimes she accompanied her on “landscape painting expeditions.” It was on one such expedition “when I was given her oil palette to scrape off, spreading partially mixed colors onto a rock,” she recalls.

Little came of these childhood experiences except the occasional “quick landscape” when Cannon traveled. “It was only when Sherri and I started to paint together that I began painting regularly. After all, one can’t say one is too busy to paint when one’s companion is at the door,”
she chuckles.

Scott adds, “Painting Sunday mornings with Sigalia has made Sunday a special day in a way that it had never been before. As an atheist, I always found Sunday a lazy day with the NYTimes or preparing for Monday’s classes.”

Sunday morning has become a something of a Sabbath respite that the women devote to connecting with their own creative spirits, immersing themselves in the fleeting momentary mysteries of nature, and sharing their love of art making.

Scott remarks on the rich communal quiet of mutual art making, each woman deeply engrossed in her own moment, yet aware of companionship in the solitude. “One feels the tension leave the body, and a peacefulness takes its place,” she says.  “Even without talking much we support one another and enjoy our art at the end of each session. Always so different but similar.”

Shared Views will be on display Sept. 16 – Oct. 16 at Yellow Springs Arts Council, 111 Corry St. in Yellow Springs. Opening reception starts at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16. For more information, please visit YSArtsCouncil.org. 

 

DCP freelance writer Karen Ander Francis is retired and enjoys doing whatever she loves in the moment. Reach her at KarenFrancis@DaytonCityPaper.com

 

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About Karen Ander Francis

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Karen Ander Francis
Reach DCP Freelance writer Karen Ander Francis at KarenAnder@DaytonCityPaper.com

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