Life experiences, summers at the beach, and a love for the water are all it took to reveal an undiscovered talent for Sharon Kearns.
Concord resident, Kearns, 48, is this year's selected artist for her original artwork, "Today's Catch." It is displayed at the N.C .Aquarium in Pine Knolls Shore and will be featured on a poster and promotional material at the 24th Annual N.C .Seafood Festival in October.
Kearns' inspiration for "Today's Catch" came from summers spent at the beach and family trips to the local fish markets.
"It was a big deal for me to see which artist was selected every year," said Kearns, who became interested in the N.C. seafood poster contest. "If I could play in that league, it meant something to me. It gave me credibility."
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Kearns' does acrylic on canvas, watercolor, and pen and ink.
However, for Kearns, it wasn't always about art.
In 1983, Kearns received her degree in business communication from the UNC Chapel Hill. After graduation, she spent three years as an advertising account executive for the Bladen Daily Journal.
In 1996, Kearns and her family moved to Concord. She worked as an advertising director for the Greater Charlotte Biz magazine, where she did a little bit of everything, including creating ads, writing stories and working on illustrations.
Kearns didn't grow up with the dream of becoming an artist. It just sort of happened.
She first discovered her talent after she painted a picture for her sister, Suzanne Bland.
"This was something I painted for her that I knew she would love. Neither of us at the time could afford artwork," said Kearns. "The cool thing was that I was able to depict what I wanted to depict. It was an amazing thing."
Since 2005, Kearns' main priority is her art.
"I just decided one day to leave technology and become a full time artist," she said. "I'm either paint, paint, paint and that's all I think about or I'm marketing and that's my focus."
Kearns spends her day keeping her website up-to-date, managing her blog, painting, marketing and finding inspiration. She collects pictures, artwork and other artifacts that spark her interest.
"Inevitably, there is something I've saved that I want to do or has given me an idea," said Kearns. "The way it works for me is that I kind of have to go with it. I get high on that idea. I'm a big stickler with beginning something and going with it until I complete it."
Kearns' favorite artists include Alan Cheek, Bob Timberlake and Van Gogh. If an artist does something a certain way, the same technique can be applied to her own art, she explained.
"There is a really cool element to finding your own path," she said. "During rough periods of my life, my art work tends to be more dramatic. It can also be very calm artwork because that's what I'm seeking."
When Kearns isn't painting in her studio, she spends her time working out or working in the garden.
Kearns lives with her husband, Ragan, in Concord. They have two daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth.