Sharon Clarke Haugli’s paintings conjure the sense of peacefulness and quiet joy we get from the simple act of discovering the beauty found on our beaches, and time spent in nature with family, friends, and of course, other beachcombers.
Growing up near the ocean both on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver on the mainland in southern British Columbia, Canada, painter Sharon Clarke Haugli has been a beachcomber for as long as she can remember. While her brothers and sisters boated and waterskied, she preferred the quiet of the beach and looking for sea life, glass, shells, sand dollars, and stones.
Sharon still collects beach treasures, but now these pieces of sea glass, marbles, pottery shards, shells, stones, seaweed, and odd items such as colorful beads and the odd small toy inspire her paintings.
“I love the beaches in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island as they have reasonably healthy ecosystems and a lot of different beaches to choose from,” says Sharon. “They each seem to have their own beautiful color palette and remnants of ocean life.”
Sharon’s family has a summer home in the lake and wine country region of British Columbia, where she finds beautiful stones and interesting pieces of glass, shells, and driftwood. They all provide endless inspiration for her large-scale beach treasure paintings.
Sharon’s mother, Sheila, also enjoys collecting beach treasure and is the one who got Sharon interested in beachcombing.
“My mother has been my primary mentor in my artwork and has been integral in developing my eye for beauty and appreciating nature,” Sharon says.
Sheila, now in her late 70s, still collects beach treasure, though Sharon’s regular beachcombing partner is her six-year-old son, Mattias. “He is my right-hand man when it comes to finding beautiful things on the beach,” says Sharon.
As awareness of Sharon’s paintings has spread, friends, family, and even strangers share their interesting finds with Sharon to include in her paintings. Sharon creates still-life arrangements of her favorite pieces and takes photos in natural light to capture the minute details of her subjects. She then paints her subjects on a magnified scale, experimenting with texture and color to bring out the beauty of the beach treasures. Though she prefers to work at large scale, she loves creating smaller custom pieces for customers.
Sharon loves how a collection of beach treasures can have so many beautiful colors, unique textures, markings, symbols, and characteristics. She is fascinated by how light plays on each piece in such different ways and the various markings that provide clues as to where the item has been and how it has been treated by the ocean and the world.
“My intention with my art is always to conjure feelings that are so often fleeting such as joy, calm, contemplation, appreciation, gratitude, and wonder,” she says. “My goal is to make them stay with us just a little longer.” Sharon has been painting her whole life, and has been a professional artist since 1998 when she graduated with a Fine Arts degree from the Emily Carr Institute of Art in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Sharon feels beach treasure paintings require a lot of her, technically as well as compositionally. “Beachcombing and the fact that the treasure is found by family and friends make my paintings special and close to my heart. I feel it is the most important work I have created so far,” she says. “Every time I paint a piece of beach treasure, it will be the first time I have ever painted anything just like that and probably the last!”
Sharon loves working with people who connect with her work and who want to bring to their living spaces the sense of calm, joy, and wonder that comes with the practice of beachcombing. She hopes to one day create a large painting for a public space where everyone can enjoy it and it will uplift those who need it most. She also does commissioned paintings for beachcombers using the treasures they have collected to create something truly personal.
Her work is sold through her website and galleries in Canada including the Lloyd Gallery in Penticton, British Columbia, and the Yeats Gallery located in the seaside village of Dundarave in West Vancouver, British Columbia. You can follow Sharon’s posts on Instagram @clarkehaugli and on Facebook @sharonclarkehaugli or visit her website at www.sharonclarkepaintings.com.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2019 issue.
No live shelling: Be sure shells are empty and sand dollars, sea stars, and sea urchins are no longer alive before you bring them home.