Q + A with Sharifa Callender

Sharifa Callender is an abstract painter based in Houston, Texas. After taking a short hiatus to rebrand and rebuild her creative business, she will be relaunching in September, and we can't wait! 

Painting is a form of worship.
— Sharifa Callender
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1.) Much of your work is reflective on your faith and God. Was there a particular moment when you knew you wanted to become an artist?

Throughout my childhood I was very passionate about art. At any moment you could find me drawing, painting, or crafting. I even competed in art competitions. Unfortunately, when I went to college I shied away from creating. I was strongly discouraged from studying art because of the starving artist stereotype. Being young and impressionable, I decided to major solely in math instead of taking up a double major in studio art. 

By my junior year of college I was tired of stifling my artistic gifts. There was an open call for art in a campus culture show. I took a leap of faith and entered even though I had not created anything in a while. I poured everything into a mixed media piece that depicted a beautiful black woman with an afro. I was nervous because aside from being out of practice, I was unsure of how the artwork would be received. To my surprise and delight, I received a number of compliments and ended up selling copies of it! 

I know for a fact that God used this experience to encourage me to pursue art seriously. Over the next few years I took art classes and began creating consistently. In 2016, I launched my art business. 

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2.) You say, "The process of painting without boundaries is completely freeing". We couldn't agree more! But we all have our struggles. What do you struggle with the most?

I struggle the most with making the time to paint. I would love to paint every day, but I only do so once a month - creating multiple pieces in a sitting. My goal for the latter part of 2018 is to paint at least once a week.

3.) What is your creative process?

Because I work well in quiet, distraction free environments, I paint early in the morning or late at night. Painting is a form of worship. Before I begin my creative process, I pray and ask God to guide me so that what I make is a reflection of Him. 

I start by mixing various colors and blending gels to create unique textures. Then I use palette knives to apply paint onto the canvas. As a final touch, I sprinkle glitter onto my artwork. 

As an abstract artist I move with a lot of freedom and flexibility across the canvas. I don’t get caught up in using certain colors or emulating different effects. I embrace every mistake and work as the Holy Spirit directs me. Each completed painting is a pleasant surprise!

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4.) What is next in 2018?

This September I will relaunch my art business. I closed my online store in May to rebrand and make new paintings. I’m excited for what is to come! 

Learn more about Sharifa here

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