By Hayley Thomas
"A picture may be worth a thousand words," but Laurel Sherrie knows a painting packs a bigger punch. As a member of the San Luis Outdoor Painters for the Environment group, Sherrie has seen, first hand, how a piece of artwork can pluck at the heartstrings like no other medium on earth.
"A painting is worth 10,000 words because it has so much emotion behind it and involvement from the artist," said Sherrie. "You get a lot more out of it."
For the past 20 years, the men and women of SLOPE have been using oil paints, watercolors and pastels to portray pastoral Central Coast locations while simultaneously raising funds to help preserve and support those areas. Art shows have benefitted Hearst Ranch property now belonging to the American Land Conservancy, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, San Luis Obispo Lighthouse and other beloved-locales across the region.
Paso Robles-based Studios on the Park will present the "Brushes with Nature" exhibit celebrating the group's 20 year anniversary running Sept. 4 through 29.
"For this show, we are re-visiting any and all Central Coast locations," said Sherrie. "They are all new paintings, [created] within the last two years, and they have never been shown in the North County before."
A portion of the proceeds from paintings sold will benefit the Recreation Enhances Community Foundation, a non-profit fundraising corporation committed to creating enhanced programs, places, and open spaces for quality recreational experiences in Paso Robles.
The show - which includes 12 current members and almost as many former members - features artists from Paso Robles to Arroyo Grande.
Sherrie said a similar goal unites the group.
"We are using our art to help raise funds to preserve precious Central Coast locations," said Sherrie. "That's near and dear to all of our hearts: to save the beautiful places that we have. We hook up with a non-profit group, and together, we work on putting on an exhibit."
Usually, the artists work on a particular location for about a year. Sherrie said the group's show, benefitting the Carrizo Plains National Monument, provides a sterling example of just how the paintings can humanize a particular place.
"The Carrizo Plains is a place dearly loved by people' either people don't know about it or they love it," said Sherrie. "We went out there and had quite a few paint-out, and even spent the night out there. What we came away with was each artists' interpretation of the scene. When people came to the show, they already loved the plains, fell in love with the plains, and many wanted to take them home."
Sherrie, an Arroyo Grande resident, said she particularly enjoys painting seascapes, especially the coastline from San Simeon to Ragged Point.
"All of that coastline is so fabulous, and now there are all these public access places where you can walk down to the beach," she said. "I love the cliffs and rocks with the ocean crashing up against them."
Sherrie said SLOPE is used to doing one-day shows, so Studios' 25-day exhibit is a huge deal. She said she hopes locals will stop by and fall in love with their favorite Central Coast landscapes all over again. The anniversary celebration will kick off on Sept. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m., complete with birthday cake and a brief presentation by SLOPE and the Paso Robles REC Foundation.
According to Sherrie, each artist shares not only a love of nature, but a drive to preserve it through art.
"We love painting landscapes and wild and rural lands," she said. "It's a cause near and dear to our hearts."
For more information, visit www.studiosonthepark.org or www.slope-painters.com.
Participating artists include Rod Aszman, John Barnard, Nancy Becker, Ken Christensen, Dennis Curry, Bruce Everett, Karen Foster, Dotty Hawthorne, Larry Kappen, Anne Laddon, Judy Lyon, Shirley Pittman, Eileen Pritchard, Barbara Rosenthal, Denise Schryver, Rosanne Seitz, Laurel Sherrie, Elizabeth Tolley, Deborah Veldkamp and Jeanette Wolff.
San Luis Outdoor Painters for the Environment (S.L.O.P.E.) is a group of professional artists who create artworks depicting the beauty and uniqueness of California's Central Coast. Working with local and national organizations, the group uses their art to draw public attention to this area and generate funds for preserving local lands for open space, wildlife, as well as ecologically-respectful recreation, ranching and farming.