Most people would take a picture if they wanted to remember an event. Sharon Epic paints them instead.
Sharon Epic is a live painter. She paints events while they are happening. She’s travelled across the country, doing more than 1,000 events and paintings over the years.
Epic, 38, says she’s been painting since she was a year old. She went to art school before working as a web and graphic designer for 10 years. After having had enough of that, she built her own business out of live painting.
She started painting events as a way to gain courage. She was agoraphobic and afraid of leaving her apartment, so she brought some art supplies to a bar and started to paint what she saw.
“It expanded my comfort zone. I wasn’t afraid to be around people as long as I had my art supplies in tow. That put me in a really good mood and then I was able to deal with greater and more daunting situations,” says Epic.
She says live painting is not necessarily something you train for; it is something you just do. Certain skills come into play as you keep practising.
“You start getting to be more in the moment, more aware, and more aware of an audience. You learn how to adapt to your situation. Whatever it is, if you’re just an artist in a small space you wouldn’t have to deal with weird things like people being drunk or running into your canvas or stuff like that. You learn to deal with humans more than you would if you weren’t an artist in public,” says Epic.
Epic’s style is bright. She uses colours to illustrate the events as they happen. She keeps things in the “here and now.” Sometimes she picks someone out from the crowd and makes them the focal point.
On Thursday, The PROsocial Project, a group from Dalhousie University, hosted an event at Coburg Coffee in Halifax. The group held the event, called Speak Easy, to promote discussion about mental health and substance use.
Epic was part of the live entertainment. In about two and half hours she painted a canvas with the scene of the event as it happened. She painted the singers, poets, speakers and attendees. This resulted in a colourful painting that PROsocial hopes will hang in the atrium of Dalhousie’s LeMarchant Place.
Cole Wood of PROsocial likes Epic’s finished product.
“I think it’s beautiful. Sharon always uses such vibrant colours and really brings out the best qualities of an event,” says Wood. “We wanted to really capture everything we stand for.”
While live painting may be Epic’s business, it is still something she enjoys doing.
“I get to analyze the humans, which is also part of my mission. I love body language, I love reading people’s body language. There’s so much that people say with their body that they’re not even aware of.”