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Sharon Payne Bolton

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Sharon Payne Bolton

I cannot wait to get to my studio in the morning.

Maybe a big part of the excitement for me is what I want it to be versus what it is. I get to spend time closing that gap. I love imagining the possibilities, and honestly, I really like it when people come in here and light up and are really happy and engaged.

People who stop by the studio always ask if there is anything I need help with. They seem to just want to be a part of it! I love coming in here because I am so inspired. I am so at home when I come in here and very much enjoy being surrounded by items I have collected, pieces I have found, and those treasures given to me by friends and strangers. 

I have committed to clean my studio for workshops, shows, special events and photo shoots, but I also need to see the things I love. When I was preparing for Open Studios in California at my studio in the Historic Arsenal in Benicia…it was like a bomb went off in-between events. Everything was on the floor so I could see it and would know where it was when I needed it. This also happens whenever I prepare for a workshop.

Sharon Payne Bolton

When I saw Jo Packham’s studio space in Utah, I thought, “I love this so much that I want to be surrounded by something like this!” Then when I saw this empty space in Ketchum, Idaho, I really could see the possibilities of what I could have here. I want to entertain, I want to bring people together, I want to be a part of connecting people, I want to work here and I want to give people an opportunity to create art and to show art.

I used to go out hunting and searching, looking for treasure. Once the momentum of my work started, things started showing up on my loading dock outside my studio–I am not looking much anymore but things now find me! At my first studio tour in my new studio a woman came in and said, “I have three suitcases in my garage–do you want them?” Of course I said I did.

Sharon Payne Bolton

Another day a woman, Donna, came into my studio on a studio tour and told me that she had taken her late aunt’s books to a collector but had some left. I told her I would happily take them. So, the next week 15 bank boxes full of her Aunt Gladys’ books showed up! It was then that I really started working more with books, since I had so many of them. I made coffee table books and then art out of books that hung on the wall. I started making a multitude of projects out of books. I think I am finally down to just a few of Aunt Gladys’ books years later!

Sharon Payne Bolton

Every day I drop my son off at school–my routine for the last 12 years–and come directly to the studio.  Usually the music comes on before the lights, then I am working on art pieces or preparing for a show or organizing workshops.  A lot of those things happen all at once–I do better work simultaneously–and I’m constantly going from place to place.

I was good at causing anxiety for my family when I would lose track of time in my studio! I would go pick up my boys at school and bring them back to the studio and later I would get a phone call that dinner was on the table–I used to get in so much trouble!  Now I do try to get home before 6 o’clock…I just lose all track of time when I’m creating.

Sharon Payne Bolton
In my art I do not think that I am telling anyone anything—I am asking them questions.

People keep asking me about my suitcase collection and want to know why and how I have so many. Honestly, as far as how in the world this happened I am really having a hard time remembering the details! They were going to be props for my booth for my art shows; I figured I could store things in them and they could double as pedestals and tables. They just seem to keep showing up.

They are incredibly beautiful vintage suitcases with so many stories if they could tell them. I got the first one when I was in college. I have a friend who brings goods back from France and she would bring them back in suitcases. I bought another one for 2 euro when I was teaching in France–I was going to leave it there, but I couldn’t turn it down–I had to bring it back. My mom had a thing for containers, anything with a lid or a zipper, so I think it might be genetic. I want to do a show about THE THINGS WE CARRY.

Sharon Payne Bolton

I also use the wall of suitcases to store things, as well as to travel to workshops. Half of them are empty–the issue is if I can’t see something it doesn’t exist, so I could easily forget what I have in there! One suitcase holds tool kits for students in my workshops, one holds leather pieces, another holds collage papers, one is full of empty cigar boxes waiting their turn–theyare going to get another opportunity and be repurposed someday. Most of the stuff that I use and need I have tried to get out of the cases so that I can see it.

I have always done woodworking and furniture making, and I would say that wood is sort of my go-to when I am creating. My maternal grandfather was a woodworker, as was my biological father, and that makes me wonder if woodworking is genetic? I build boxes and frames and pedestals–I can create anything I need with wood so a lot of the time my pieces do start with wood. Even the big books I create are wood. I once built the Batmobile out of wood. Sometimes I use recycled wood, because repurposing wood gives a piece a story, which I like. When I am asked what kind of artist I am, I just have to claim that I am a mixed media artist, since I use a lot of wood, metal, wire, paint, old papers, books, found objects, repurposed items and more.

Sharon Payne Bolton

I think a lot of times for me the materials predict what the piece will be and I just allow the materials to dictate the process. Sometimes I have a rough idea of what I want to do, but that doesn’t mean it will be translated to what it is going to be ultimately.

The heart is a universal symbol, and the most important symbol to me because it is a representation of the one thing that is real. The heart represents the most important thing…love. That is really the most important thing. I did try to stop doing hearts, I really did! I once did a boat with infinity signs and found that when you put infinity signs next to each other they create hearts, so there were hearts on my boat.

Sharon Payne Bolton

The definition of fine art seems to have changed over the years. It used to be that it is not fine art if it is functional. I think fine art can absolutely be functional, and I think that bothers some purists. I sort of battle with that in my head–I know I probably walk a fine line between fine art and craft. I am also not sure if the purists consider mixed media true art. Although I do fully respect fine art, I think mixed media artists have really started to push the line of fine art.

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

— Rumi

I would like to help change the art world. We are always evolving as a human species and I think art is also evolving. I am not telling anybody how to think…I am hoping I am asking them what they think. Each time I make a piece it is interpreted differently by each person. Although I have shown my work in numerous galleries over the years, not being in galleries right now gives me a little more freedom…I don’t really want anyone to tell me what to do. I just love being able to do what I do.

Sharon Payne Bolton

My kitchen area in my studio has become a place for reflection and connection. It is around this table that many artists have met and brainstormed for upcoming events. I have even had a dear friend sit here for the better part of a day to help me write my story for an upcoming article in this space. During one of the events I had at my studio, I had 11 guest artists showing their work for a two-day show and when we needed a break, the kitchen area was where we congregated. The trunk on the wall that holds my glasses just makes me so happy. It holds such history for me since it was my first trunk that I bought from my friend Denise while I was in college. She charged me a whopping $15 for that fabulous steamer trunk and little did I know that so many years later it would be my signature piece in my art studio kitchen.

Sharon Payne Bolton

My dog, Betty, really is the perfect studio dog. We weren’t looking for a dog. We haven’t had a dog for 12 years and I have never had a little dog. But, we were at a fundraiser for the Boulder Mountain Clay Works in Ketchum, Idaho and Bridgett, who is the breeder, had the puppies at the fundraiser. I think that someone had committed to taking Betty and something happened and that is why Bridgett still had Betty by the time we arrived. We were drinking wine…and not planning on buying a dog. It didn’t take very long for us to give her a hundred dollar bill to save Betty for us while we went home and thought about owning a dog. And then we decided to try her for one night. We didn’t want a puppy, but she never did puppy stuff—she was instantly a girl. I think there is some kind of reincarnation going on here!

Sharon Payne Bolton

I cannot wait to get to my studio in the morning.

Maybe a big part of the excitement for me is what I want it to be versus what it is. I get to spend time closing that gap. I love imagining the possibilities, and honestly, I really like it when people come in here and light up and are really happy and engaged.

People who stop by the studio always ask if there is anything I need help with. They seem to just want to be a part of it! I love coming in here because I am so inspired. I am so at home when I come in here and very much enjoy being surrounded by items I have collected, pieces I have found, and those treasures given to me by friends and strangers. 

I have committed to clean my studio for workshops, shows, special events and photo shoots, but I also need to see the things I love. When I was preparing for Open Studios in California at my studio in the Historic Arsenal in Benicia…it was like a bomb went off in-between events. Everything was on the floor so I could see it and would know where it was when I needed it. This also happens whenever I prepare for a workshop.

Sharon Payne Bolton

When I saw Jo Packham’s studio space in Utah, I thought, “I love this so much that I want to be surrounded by something like this!” Then when I saw this empty space in Ketchum, Idaho, I really could see the possibilities of what I could have here. I want to entertain, I want to bring people together, I want to be a part of connecting people, I want to work here and I want to give people an opportunity to create art and to show art.

I used to go out hunting and searching, looking for treasure. Once the momentum of my work started, things started showing up on my loading dock outside my studio–I am not looking much anymore but things now find me! At my first studio tour in my new studio a woman came in and said, “I have three suitcases in my garage–do you want them?” Of course I said I did.

Sharon Payne Bolton

Another day a woman, Donna, came into my studio on a studio tour and told me that she had taken her late aunt’s books to a collector but had some left. I told her I would happily take them. So, the next week 15 bank boxes full of her Aunt Gladys’ books showed up! It was then that I really started working more with books, since I had so many of them. I made coffee table books and then art out of books that hung on the wall. I started making a multitude of projects out of books. I think I am finally down to just a few of Aunt Gladys’ books years later!

Sharon Payne Bolton

Every day I drop my son off at school–my routine for the last 12 years–and come directly to the studio.  Usually the music comes on before the lights, then I am working on art pieces or preparing for a show or organizing workshops.  A lot of those things happen all at once–I do better work simultaneously–and I’m constantly going from place to place.

I was good at causing anxiety for my family when I would lose track of time in my studio! I would go pick up my boys at school and bring them back to the studio and later I would get a phone call that dinner was on the table–I used to get in so much trouble!  Now I do try to get home before 6 o’clock…I just lose all track of time when I’m creating.

Sharon Payne Bolton
In my art I do not think that I am telling anyone anything—I am asking them questions.

People keep asking me about my suitcase collection and want to know why and how I have so many. Honestly, as far as how in the world this happened I am really having a hard time remembering the details! They were going to be props for my booth for my art shows; I figured I could store things in them and they could double as pedestals and tables. They just seem to keep showing up.

They are incredibly beautiful vintage suitcases with so many stories if they could tell them. I got the first one when I was in college. I have a friend who brings goods back from France and she would bring them back in suitcases. I bought another one for 2 euro when I was teaching in France–I was going to leave it there, but I couldn’t turn it down–I had to bring it back. My mom had a thing for containers, anything with a lid or a zipper, so I think it might be genetic. I want to do a show about THE THINGS WE CARRY.

Sharon Payne Bolton

I also use the wall of suitcases to store things, as well as to travel to workshops. Half of them are empty–the issue is if I can’t see something it doesn’t exist, so I could easily forget what I have in there! One suitcase holds tool kits for students in my workshops, one holds leather pieces, another holds collage papers, one is full of empty cigar boxes waiting their turn–theyare going to get another opportunity and be repurposed someday. Most of the stuff that I use and need I have tried to get out of the cases so that I can see it.

I have always done woodworking and furniture making, and I would say that wood is sort of my go-to when I am creating. My maternal grandfather was a woodworker, as was my biological father, and that makes me wonder if woodworking is genetic? I build boxes and frames and pedestals–I can create anything I need with wood so a lot of the time my pieces do start with wood. Even the big books I create are wood. I once built the Batmobile out of wood. Sometimes I use recycled wood, because repurposing wood gives a piece a story, which I like. When I am asked what kind of artist I am, I just have to claim that I am a mixed media artist, since I use a lot of wood, metal, wire, paint, old papers, books, found objects, repurposed items and more.

Sharon Payne Bolton

I think a lot of times for me the materials predict what the piece will be and I just allow the materials to dictate the process. Sometimes I have a rough idea of what I want to do, but that doesn’t mean it will be translated to what it is going to be ultimately.

The heart is a universal symbol, and the most important symbol to me because it is a representation of the one thing that is real. The heart represents the most important thing…love. That is really the most important thing. I did try to stop doing hearts, I really did! I once did a boat with infinity signs and found that when you put infinity signs next to each other they create hearts, so there were hearts on my boat.

Sharon Payne Bolton

The definition of fine art seems to have changed over the years. It used to be that it is not fine art if it is functional. I think fine art can absolutely be functional, and I think that bothers some purists. I sort of battle with that in my head–I know I probably walk a fine line between fine art and craft. I am also not sure if the purists consider mixed media true art. Although I do fully respect fine art, I think mixed media artists have really started to push the line of fine art.

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

— Rumi

I would like to help change the art world. We are always evolving as a human species and I think art is also evolving. I am not telling anybody how to think…I am hoping I am asking them what they think. Each time I make a piece it is interpreted differently by each person. Although I have shown my work in numerous galleries over the years, not being in galleries right now gives me a little more freedom…I don’t really want anyone to tell me what to do. I just love being able to do what I do.

Sharon Payne Bolton

My kitchen area in my studio has become a place for reflection and connection. It is around this table that many artists have met and brainstormed for upcoming events. I have even had a dear friend sit here for the better part of a day to help me write my story for an upcoming article in this space. During one of the events I had at my studio, I had 11 guest artists showing their work for a two-day show and when we needed a break, the kitchen area was where we congregated. The trunk on the wall that holds my glasses just makes me so happy. It holds such history for me since it was my first trunk that I bought from my friend Denise while I was in college. She charged me a whopping $15 for that fabulous steamer trunk and little did I know that so many years later it would be my signature piece in my art studio kitchen.

Sharon Payne Bolton

My dog, Betty, really is the perfect studio dog. We weren’t looking for a dog. We haven’t had a dog for 12 years and I have never had a little dog. But, we were at a fundraiser for the Boulder Mountain Clay Works in Ketchum, Idaho and Bridgett, who is the breeder, had the puppies at the fundraiser. I think that someone had committed to taking Betty and something happened and that is why Bridgett still had Betty by the time we arrived. We were drinking wine…and not planning on buying a dog. It didn’t take very long for us to give her a hundred dollar bill to save Betty for us while we went home and thought about owning a dog. And then we decided to try her for one night. We didn’t want a puppy, but she never did puppy stuff—she was instantly a girl. I think there is some kind of reincarnation going on here!