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Spotlight on three artists

Participating in the Artists Studio tour for the second consecutive year, three-dimensional artists Darlynn Babb Sharpe and Francis Rider will be joined by two-dimensional artist Ellen Nunes.

Sharpe’s lifelong fascination with the human body began in childhood – pencil and paper always close at hand. It wasn’t under her mid-30s that she discovered sculpture and the ability to bring her two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional forms. To be able to give life and touchable volume to the flat, one-sided restrictions of figurative sketching renewed her passion to create. She experimented with various mediums – clay, plaster, wire, wood and bronze but always returned to clay.

“I love working in clay. It’s earthy smell and soft pliable workability allows me to use my finger, my entire hands as tools. Quite often I don’t even have a subject or pose firmly in mind, but begin working and shaping the clay until a mood emerges, which will often dictate the sculpture to follow. This is, for me, more exciting than coming to it with a preplanned concept,” Sharpe said.



Inspiration is all around her – observing family and friends and watching the moods and attitudes of people and children everywhere. Black and white photography especially influences her.

“For me, a photograph in black and white captures the beautiful form and essence of the human body so much more than color. Nothing gets in the way of the natural simplicity of the body, it is reduced to contour and shape and literally glows with graduations of blacks and grays.”



Rider’s art is an expression of his feeling, his connection between earth and nature.

“I enjoy creating art using a combination of natural materials. The contract of finished clay and the addition of a beautiful piece of driftwood allows me to convey my artistic thoughts to the view,” he said.

His fascination with shape, form and texture has driven him to explore many different techniques – combining carving, hand building and altering the shape and forms until he is pleased. He prefers to use the Raku process because it allows him to achieve immediate results. The contrast and rather rough finish tend to complement the use of other natural materials. He sees his job as an artist to pull the viewer into his realm; to give or her a glimpse of his work.

“If I made you think, if I made you smile, maybe you cried, then I have accomplished my goal to move you,” Rider said.

He wants to stimulate the viewer, to arouse an emotion within and to entice the audience into a connection with earth and nature. When he does that he believes he has brought the world to the viewer as he sees it through his eyes.

Newcomer Nunes has been enrolled in the associate arts program at Lake Tahoe Community College since 1998. Nurturing and developing her artistic talents has been longtime unfulfilled passion.

“The art department at LTCC has provided me with a valuable education,” Nunes said. “Under the tutelage of both David Foster and Phyllis Shafer I have found guidance and inspiration. These two individuals have fueled my passion and changed the way I look at life. For this I am eternally grateful.”

Although she enjoys working with charcoal and pastel, oil painting is her favorite medium. She is fascinated with the work of artists like Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Darkness was the tool with which they created mystery and drama. Her process takes a traditional approach much like the old masters’ way of using a full grisalle underpainting before adding any color. She is particularly inspired when painting on a black gessoed canvas or wood surface. The process of bringing forth life from the darkness is her metaphor for existence.

In 2000 Nunes was awarded the blue ribbon for painting and portraiture at the LTCC annual student exhibit. This past year she received a cash award for the best oil painting.

“I believe that by following our passion it is by far the greatest gift that we can give to humanity. By listening to our true self and using our God-given talents we contribute more to the world than we are ever aware of. Art is my eternal prayer, my gift to give. As a new artist in the community I am enthusiastic about showing my work and sharing my visions. I am thrilled to be part of the Artists Studio Tour,” Nunes said.


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