Becca Sharp

Sixteen-year-old Becca Sharp shapes a piece of clay from a bag, to start a small sculptural project.

OCEAN PARK — Becca Sharp is what you might call a fearless artist.

At 16, the home schooled daughter of Jennifer and Brian Sharp recently dove into a mural painting project in the Dunes Pool office with no hesitation. She decided to do a colorful depiction of Dead Man’s Cove on one large cabinet door and a panorama of a beach scene to cover two big doors on another wall. There are seasoned adult artists who might have chewed off their fingernail tips, while planning and contemplating such a big undertaking. But not Becca. She just set up her paints and brushes and went to work.

What gives a budding artist the confidence and courage to bite off something like this? Especially a teen whose is largely a self-taught painter.

Just say yes

Becca also works on clay projects, but unlike how she’s taught herself to paint, she does clay one day a week under the direction of Sue Raymond in the studio at Sue’s Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park. Sue steps in to offer instruction when needed. She fires Becca’s creations and provides glazes.

Becca with Sue Raymond

While Becca is primarily a self-taught painter, she works in clay under the direction of Sue Raymond (right) at Bay Avenue Gallery.

Sue taught art to students from kindergarten to college for 35 years, in Arizona, Michigan and Texas. She holds a PhD in art education. She sees Becca’s fearlessness come through in the clay and has seen photos of her paintings. When asked how a talented budding artist can thrive, said, “My gut feeling is that Becca’s parents love the fact that she’s creative and love the fact that this (art) is her specialty. They realize this is her special gift that she’s developing and they give her a safety net so that she is fearless.”

Recalling her own artistic beginnings, Sue said, “I was lucky enough to have the same kind of thing. My grandmother told me, ‘This what you do. This is what makes you different from your siblings.’”

Sue had the benefit of acceptance and encouragement from an early age, Becca has that, too.

Advice from others

Award-winning watercolorist, Cynthia Pride Moore, is another member of the Bay Avenue Gallery family of artists. She usually works in the gallery on Fridays, though she is currently off for a bit, while recovering from knee surgery. But recently, Becca took some paintings to show her and Cynthia had a lot of kind and constructive input.

Becca mural

In the Dunes Pool office, Becca painted two murals on cabinet doors. This is a scene of Dead Man’s Cove, on a single door.

Becca’s mother, Jennifer, was with her daughter that day. She recalled, “”Cynthia told her, ‘You have the technique down. You know how to make these things, now put you into it.’”

Jennifer said, “We love her and love her art, too. She also gave Becca really good ideas for incorporating more colors into it.”

Recognizing talent from the start

From the very beginning, when Becca began painting, Jennifer did realize her daughter really wanted to do art. Since then, “We have totally funded her art habit, because it’s something she wants to do with her life.”

There is simply no discouragement and no suggestions of growing up and getting a “real” job.

The love for art and obvious talent surfaced when Becca was about 10 or 11. From the start, she was encouraged. Jennifer said, “When it was someone’s birthday or Christmas, we suggested Becca paint them a picture and that was her Christmas and birthday gifts for years. You can see her progression throughout, as her paintings got better. And now, people are asking her to paint them things.”

Becca second mural

Becca’s second mural is a panoramic view of a beach scene, which she painted in acrylics on double doors.

Jennifer doesn’t paint, but her mother, Carol Blank of Olympia, paints with oils. “She didn’t really do much of it when we were growing up and she was working. But she really got into the painting when dad retired.”

Becca said her grandmother has certainly been an influence and inspiration on her own love for painting with oils.

When Becca was first trying to learn techniques, she said she watched a lot of Bob Ross instructional shows. Now, she learns new techniques from a number of videos and books.

Why the pool office murals?

For more than a decade, Jennifer has worked part time as a lifeguard at the Dunes Pool and also works in the office. She usually brings her two daughters with her and they can work on some of their home school lessons.

Earlier this year, the pool was closed for some repairs, including installation of a new drain field. Jennifer took advantage of the down time and did a number of projects in the office, including painting the cabinets white. And that seemed to naturally invite Becca’s artistic talents to come into play and dress them up a bit.

Though Becca said she mainly works now in water soluble oil paints, she decided to do these murals in acrylics. She had a reference photo for the rocks in the Dead Man’s Cover mural, but just used her imagination to sketch out the beach scene on the double doors. Landscapes are her favorites, so these fit the bill.

Home school now

Until now, almost all of Becca’s art education has been on her own time. But, Jennifer said “Now that she is technically a tenth grader, I am incorporating more structured art into her classes. Certain days are sketching, others are painting or working in clay. Some are crocheting.”

Yes, Becca also crochets.

And here comes another one

Kimberly, Becca’s 12-year-old sister, is showing a lot of natural writing talent and she, too, is being encouraged every step of the way.

Recognition of a child’s specialty is important to Jennifer and Brian. Sue Raymond agrees that they’re on the right track.

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