Shari Zimmerman’s acrylic paintings capture memories in vibrant color
By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Through Shari Zimmerman’s eyes, the world is a sea of brilliant happiness, tender memories, and incredible beauty.
“I paint big, colorful acrylics,” Delano resident Zimmerman said. “They all tell a story of some sort.”
Zimmerman recently showcased her work at a ladies’ night event at Room to Breathe yoga and massage studio in Delano.
“Shari’s art was just amazing,” Room to Breathe owner Clare Ochry said. “Everyone was really awestruck by her paintings.”
Anyone who missed the event will have another opportunity to view Zimmerman’s work at Room to Breathe, during Delano’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Saturday, Dec. 4.
Zimmerman’s paintings are a visual expression of memories and emotions.
“A lot of times, I don’t plan exactly what I want it to look like when I’m done. I start with a feeling I want to give, or a memory I want to capture,” Zimmerman said.
Her earliest painting depicts a special birthday dinner from her childhood. She grew up in a big family, and going out to eat alone with her parents was a rarity.
“I got my first taste of jumbo shrimp, and I felt so grown up,” she said.
In almost dreamlike quality, the scene illustrates the fanciness of the restaurant, the tastiness of the jumbo shrimp, and the togetherness of the family.
Another of Zimmerman’s paintings portrays her experience walking with a friend on a gravel path in the area. A swirl of yellow sulfur butterflies flew by, contrasting beautifully with the deep blue sky.
“They just clouded up around us,” Zimmerman said. “It was so magical.”
A second nature-inspired piece is from a time she was walking along Lake Rebecca in Delano. The scene shows a flock of bluebirds and bright red sumac trees.
“My work has sort of a retro vibe to it; I think because so much of it is based on memories,” Zimmerman said.
Another distinguishing trait is the bold red colors that show up in many of her pieces.
“It isn’t finished until I throw a little red on it,” she laughed.
Typically, Zimmerman prefers to paint on 30-by-40-inch canvases.
“It’s more fun It’s more free,” she said.
Some of Zimmerman’s paintings come together quickly, while others take months as she goes back and fixes them.
“I do a lot of experimental techniques,” she said.
One time, when Zimmerman was driving in Georgia, she noticed a billboard series for wigs. Each billboard had the word “wigs” with a different adjective in front of it, such as dramatic wigs, sexy wigs, or beautiful wigs.
“It just struck me as odd,” Zimmerman said. So, she decided to paint the idea, incorporating her own twist.
“Pretty soon I had a whole series,” she said. “It became a commentary on what we choose to hide or show.”
Developing a passion
It’s clear that art is Zimmerman’s passion now, but it hasn’t always been that way.
“I always did sketches, but all through high school I thought I was going to be a marine biologist,” she said.
Zimmerman concentrated on math and science courses, and nearly failed her art class.
“I didn’t like it,” she said. “I didn’t apply myself, and I didn’t finish a lot of the projects.”
She remembers her art teacher telling her that she had talent and should consider art as a career. Ironically, the teacher also said that if she didn’t turn in her work, she wasn’t going to pass the class.
After high school, Zimmerman decided to attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She studied graphic design, but still never considered becoming a painter.
Zimmerman didn’t start painting until about eight years ago. Before that, she had a full-time job and was raising her children. After she quit her job, Zimmerman naturally began doing artwork.
“I had no creative outlet, so I started painting on my walls,” she said. Then, she started creating and selling canvas floorcloths. The art is designed to be on the floor, like a rug, but Zimmerman’s customers would hang them on the wall anyway.
“People couldn’t see walking on them,” she said.
Where to buy
After awhile, Zimmerman switched to wall hangings, and also began selling her work on the Internet.
Through her online store, www.zazzle.com/sharizimm, customers can purchase her artwork printed on a number of useful items, such as greeting cards, t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and shoes.
“If people don’t want to invest in a large painting, it’s a way for them to still have something beautiful,” Zimmerman said.
When she’s not painting, Zimmerman works as a freelance magazine designer. Her work appears in publications such as Experience Life Magazine and Enterprise Minnesota Magazine, among others.