Born in 1988 and growing up in Massachusetts, Sharleen Britt has a colorful imagination that she illustrates through ink, watercolor, and digital mediums.
Sharleen grew up with her parents and a younger brother. Her mother owned a home daycare where she explored art on a daily basis. She continued her exploration of art primarily through high school and graduated with a bachelors’ degree in 2010 at New Hampshire Institute of Art. In August 2012, Sharleen joined the Leominster Art Center and Gallery displaying her work and dedicating her time as part of the board.
Experiencing life and visiting different places has always fascinated Sharleen, along with fantasy and magic. Growing up with strong women in stories, her parents always encouraging her, and her teachers telling her to never give up, Sharleen’s artwork reflects these themes in her work. Typically, the artwork is of (at least one) woman in some kind of magical setting. The bright colors engage viewers to see a world that is new to them to invoke delight, curiosity, and peace.
Today, Sharleen lives with her fiancé and cat, Mona. She occasionally attends festivals and conventions to sell her work and offers private commissions. For more info, you can visit her site at www.ChiBStudio.com or e-mail her at ChiBStudio@gmail.com.
I love to create stories of ordinary girls who can do incredible things and overcome difficulties that seem beyond impossible. They are able to overcome such feats because they find the power to believe, and they follow their heart. I believe that being true to your heart is so powerful in life that I want to emphasize its importance to young girls.
However, sometimes it can be hard to believe or do what your heart says. This is why I glorify girls in my paintings. By making these images, I hope to inspire other girls to be beautiful themselves. I emphasize outer beauty to focus on inner beauty, such as when one puts on make-up, one feels beautiful outside and in. I want girls to feel good about them so that they can gain the self-confidence to stay true to their heart.
Working with Watercolors
I always begin with sketches, putting my ideas down on paper. I look at compositions and take what I am most happy with. With this, I determine my light source and colors, then go out to get the references I need. This may include setting up still-lifes, taking pictures of models, or going to the library and searching the web for anything that is not easily obtainable to me.
When I have all my references, I begin drawing the outline. I scan the outline onto my computer and enlarge the sketch. I print the outline in full size and realign the pieces back together. With my watercolor paper ready to size and taped to a thick board, I trace my image onto the paper. I glide a thin layer of water just enough to get the paper damp and let it dry. After, I apply masking fluid to necessary areas and allow that to dry. In the meantime, I mix my colors and prepare for the first wash. I use a large brush for my washes; sometimes blending colors in, sprinkling salt on the area, or droplets of alcohol. I use smaller brushes to work on the rest of the piece. I may also use my brush to soak up colors rather than just applying them to the piece. Sometimes, to get desired effects, I take a short break to allow the piece or area to dry. Sometimes I am allowed to work in a separate place of the piece. When everything is all dried at the end, I take the tape off and carefully scrape away any excess color that had seeped underneath the tape around the edges. The artwork is ready to be scanned in whether it is immediately shown or brought into Photoshop where I add any final touches that can only be done digitally.
Creating a Graphic Novel
The first thing I do is pick a story. I keep a journal with story ideas; all from the vague to the detailed. I imagine what the story will be about and the events that will take place, taking note of my ideas. When I think I have completed a well-thought-out story, I will divide it into sections. Depending on how long I want the story to be, I divide it into chapters and books.
I then create and work on the character designs. I focus on facial features, how tall they are compared to other characters, and design their clothes. I practice making sketches of them in various viewpoints.
I then make a sketchbook of the first chapter. I think about what I want each page to accomplish to the viewer and what each character would say based on the personalities I have given them. I set up the composition and words, then go back to add tones to each panel.
It then references time, where I either shoot models, places, gather objects, or do some quick online or library surfing to gather anything that may be useful or helpful to me.
I then place in the panels and begin sketching with my pencil, using my references as a guide. After, I make an outline of them in ink using microns, a brush pen, and a calligraphy pen. I also color in any areas that are going to be black with a brush.
When the ink has dried, I scan the work and bring it into Photoshop. I make sure my artwork is neat and clean then begin the toning. I use patterns and brushes to get this done and add any special effects. It’s here that I also add in the text.
Somewhere along the way, I will have made a cover (in a way, I treat it as a different project as it requires a completely different process). When I have all my pages put together and have a final mock-up of the book, I print out the pages. I cut the pages down to size and align them up in order. The middle gets stapled and the pages are folded for the completion of the book.