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Sandy artist spends a lifetime showcasing the art of the southwest

Nov 03, 2017 09:21AM ● Published by Keyra Kristoffersen

Sharon Teal-Coray poses with a favorite painting of a Native American girl from a Pow Wow. (Sharon Teal-Coray)

Gallery: Sharon Teal-Coray [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

Sharon Teal-Coray is a Utah native who loved to draw from an early age and spent her two-hour bus trips to school every day sketching. Her father started out studying commercial art until World War Two, and then carried a small watercolor set throughout the war, painting scenes as he went along.

“I loved to look at these, and I decided that I wanted to study art,” said Teal-Coray, who had watched her father struggle in a barely existing market in post-war Salt Lake. He encouraged her to pursue other dreams. “This did very little to put out the flames of desire in me to pursue that dream — if anything it just pushed me to accomplish it.”

In 1970, Teal-Coray decided it was time to learn to paint and went to the library to teach herself by reading every book available to her and trying everything from portraits to still-life. One still-life she worked on was of a Native American blanket and basket from her father-in-law and some pottery purchased on a trip to Wyoming. This opened her eyes to the subject matter she had been searching for and began a love for the art of the southwest.

“This first painting of an Indian blanket and pottery was the beginning of a long journey of discovery, excitement and opportunity,” she said. She would later take a trip with her husband to Mesa Verde, speak to archaeologists in the area and fall in love with the Anasazi people. “I felt a real connection with the Indians who had lived there. I knew I wanted to record some of the Anasazi pottery on canvas.”

This eventually led Teal-Coray to take a class at the University of Utah in primitive pottery making to help her understand the process of Southwest Native American art. 

Taking what Teal-Coray called a leap of faith, she entered a painting into the C.M. Russell Art Exhibit and Auction in Great Falls, Montana, calling it one of the most prestigious shows an artist can get into.

“I was truly shocked that my work was accepted for the auction. I am not exaggerating — shocked is putting it mildly,” said Teal-Coray. She credits this show as the jumping-off point for her career as an artist because it led to being featured in “Art of the West” magazine and gallery shows. “My southwestern still-life paintings are sort of a tribute to the ancient American Indians; the artifacts in my paintings were used daily as practical tools for centuries.”

Teal-Coray has expanded her subject matter to include seascapes, landscapes, animals and mountain men, always returning to her beloved southwest. Lately, she has found a way to combine her love of local history with her love of classic cars by painting cars into Utah scenes, such as she and her husband riding in their recently restored 1937 Dodge through the canyons.

Teal-Coray also spent years teaching painting classes from a studio that they added to the back of their house, and is happy to know that several of her students have gone on to be award-winning artists. Her studio also included a kiln so Teal-Coray could continue to create pottery for her paintings. 

“It is very rewarding for me to know that these beautiful blankets and pots I have painted have given people all over the world the opportunity to own a part of the southwest culture that is rapidly disappearing in this modern age,” said Teal-Coray.

Her work with the Shining Feather Art Academy for Women—and invention of a brush specifically for painting fur and Brush Cleaning Basin—caught the eye of a publisher in 2003 at a Las Vegas trade show. The publisher approached her to write instructional books. Teal-Coray now has over a dozen books published and available online, the most recent being workbooks designed to help artists learn how to mix colors. 

Though she has retired from teaching, Teal-Coray continues to help artists through her two blogs and Facebook groups. 

“I feel very blessed to have the ability to paint and to teach others,” said Teal-Coray. She says she is grateful for the awards she’s won and exhibits she has participated in over the years.

In 2013, Teal-Coray suffered heartbreak after her son passed away. She believes her art helped save her sanity.

“I have researched creativity and have found that it has been shown to help with depression, loneliness and pain, to name a few,” she said. “No matter what one does, be it painting, sewing, gardening, it helps all of us deal with our daily problems.”

Teal-Coray’s work can be found at www.shiningfeatheroriginals.com, and art tips and tutorials can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Arttipsandtutorials/

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