I can honestly say I’ve never known anyone, artist or otherwise, more popular and respected than Ron Sherr.
His passing evoked a flood of tributes on social media, many of his former students describing a special bond with him. Because he had this way of speaking to you as if you were the only person in the world that mattered.
And during his in-studio painting critiques, you were.
Our class was bursting at the seams–nearly 40 painters, three generations, shoulder to shoulder in an average-size room. Yet somehow he got to each of us, one by one of us, and delivered all the information we needed.
When it was your turn, you had Ron’s full attention. He was totally present, maintained eye contact, and stayed focused on you and your work.
He’d then move on to the next student. But the inspiration never left you.
There was no need to take notes in class because Ron’s insights were too powerful to forget. They’ve stayed with me for 35 years, and many of them come to mind while working in the studio.
Always try to do the impossible.
There’s no such thing as too much drawing.
Only exhibit your very best work.
Look at a masterwork and imagine you’re the one painting it.
Establish a focal point early on. Then establish a secondary focal point to compete with the first one.
Look at your subject as if your life depended on it.
Every inch of your painting should be interesting.
Every struggle you encounter is a painting struggle.
This last point was a life-changer, especially for the younger artists.
That’s a painting struggle.
Problems in your relationship you say?
Another painting struggle.
Like most, I can’t recall what I said or heard a week ago let alone three decades ago. But Ron’s wisdom I’ll never forget.
Also extraordinary was his modesty, unaffected by his talent.
Class was never about him or his work; it was always about his students. He spoke freely of his own struggles as a young painter as he encouraged us to fight it out in a big tough city.
Bottom line is, you felt safe in Ron’s presence.
While friends, family, and total strangers warned of the futility of making a career out of art, Ron left you feeling it was the most natural thing to do.
And totally possible if you wanted it enough.
Ronald Sherr studied at the DuCret School of Art in New Jersey and at the National Academy of Design with Daniel E. Greene, Harvey Dinnerstein, and privately with Burton Silverman.
His portraits of notable Americans include former presidents, Supreme Court justices, senators, and governors as well as leaders in business, medicine, academia, and the arts.
Sherr is one of the few artists to receive the Hubbard Art Award ($250,000.00) from the Hubbard Art Museum in Ruidoso, New Mexico.