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Park West Australian artists inspire art students in Miami Lakes

 In Art & Gallery News, Artists & Special Collections, Donna Sharam, Graeme Stevenson
graeme stevenson

Above, Park West artist Graeme Stevenson speaks with students at Barbara Goleman Sr. High School about the art world

Art students at Barbara Goleman Sr. High School in Florida chuckled as they reviewed the results of self portraits they drew with their eyes closed.

Amidst the chuckles, though, were looks of fascination and intrigue, having realized that they created an expressive work of art in mere minutes. The exercise, however, wasn’t passed down from their teacher – it came from Australian artist Donna Sharam, whose artwork is collected around the world.

Park West Gallery artists Sharam and Graeme Stevenson visited with AP art students at Barbara Goleman Sr. High School in Miami Lakes, Florida on Feb. 29 to talk about their paths in the art world and share their advice for becoming a successful artist.

Stevenson and Sharam hail from Australia, and have experienced international success through their artwork. Most recently, that success led them to joining Park West Gallery, the largest privately-owned art dealer in the world. Their art is now collected worldwide alongside artwork from Lebo, Romero Britto, Peter Max and hundreds of other renowned artists.

Sharam is known as the “Color Queen,” using distorted geometric shapes and bright, dramatic colors in her optimistic artwork. She said in her experiences, becoming a successful artist depends on three core values: Being passionate, persistent and having a unique style.

“As you do your soul art, as you do something that you do with passion and you persevere at it, you also need to let yourself come out,” Sharam said. “You need to have something that is unique, something that is different, something that only belongs to you, not something that you’re copying from someone else.”

donna sharam

Above, Park West artist Donna Sharam shows the results of a student’s drawing exercise

Stevenson, who creates surreal and wildlife art, also hosts and produces “Put Some Colour In Your Life,” a TV show that highlights artists in Australia and around the world. With a talent for business as well as art, Stevenson stressed to the students that learning about the marketing side of art is as important as honing artistic talents.

“It comes down to balancing both sides as best you can,” he said. “The great thing to do is to find out what the gallery schedules are, and if you really want to mix with some famous artists…go to the shows and get to meet people that are artists and make a living out of it.”

Sharam guided the students through two drawing exercises to help them expand their imaginations and creativity. They closed their eyes and drew self portraits, while another session had them draw a still life without looking at their paper.

Noah Royal, 17, is a senior in the AP class. He said he enjoyed hearing from the artists as he considers his next steps after graduation, but also found artistic inspiration, saying his concentration in the art class revolves around themes of duality.

“I was doing a compare and contrast in my head of the two artists, and it was very interesting,” Royal said.

Charles Humes, the AP art instructor and fine arts department chair, said this was the first time his students spoke with international artists, calling it an “invaluable” resource for teaching them about the art world.

“We always try to get some sort of outreach so that the kids can broaden their exposure to what is happening outside of the school and the community,” Humes said.

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