Artistic Excellence | Daria Shachmut

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

All Ears, oil, 18 x 14.

What inspired your winning entry? ALL EARS is a Hereford calf who was curiously poking her head above a crowd of cattle. She was so urgently alive. I loved how her head had not yet grown into her big ears.

Do you come from an artistic background? I was drawing as soon as I learned to hold a pencil. As an only child, I spent many hours entertaining myself drawing. My mother, an artist, encouraged me with Saturday art classes for children at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts.

Where did you study art? I majored in art at Connecticut College and studied painting at Philadelphia College of Art, where I got my master’s degree in art education. Some of my happiest years were spent teaching, drawing, painting, and doing lithography at local community colleges. Many years later, I studied with Bob Gerbracht, a wonderful portrait painter in San Francisco. I also have participated in workshops with Carolyn Anderson, David Leffel, Huihan Liu, Randall Sexton, and Jove Wang.

What is your favorite subject matter and why? I am passionate about cows, especially Herefords, which I find nearby at ranches in Big Sur and the Salinas Valley in California. I have amassed more than 10,000 photographs of cows as reference material. I am passionate about sharing my response to these creatures—the tilt of a head, a body gesture, the way light describes their forms at different times of day and in various weather conditions. I want the viewer to experience the joy of seeing a calf spray a stream of water after quenching its thirst at the trough. When cows stand in the dappled light of overhanging branches, I want the viewer to feel this respite from the hot summer sun.

What is the best advice you have ever received? Bob Gerbracht, with whom I studied for four years, emphasized drawing skills. If the drawing is off, no matter how well the colors and values work, the painting will not hold together.

What is the most meaningful recognition you have received for your artwork? In 2010 I submitted my painting BEAST to the Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition. It was awarded an honorable mention. I was honored to be in the company of so many accomplished artists.

Representation: New Masters Gallery, Carmel, CA; Mountain Trails Galleries, Sedona, AZ; Carmel Art Association, Carmel, CA;

Featured in December 2011.