Sharon Ann Pikrone, 1943-2008: botanical watercolorist
Her watercolors had stunning blend of depth and detail
By Joan Giangrasse Kates
January 11, 2009
An accomplished artist, Sharon Ann Pikrone often went to great lengths to capture the detail, delicacy and intensity of color found in the live floral plants she re-created through watercolors.
?My concept is to serve as an artful translator of botanicals for others so that they may awaken to the beauty and brilliance of flora and fauna as it exists in nature and in my mind?s eye,? she wrote in a brief memoir.
A few years ago, she was commissioned to do a watercolor by a Wisconsin couple who owned a large cranberry bog farm.
?They wanted her to re-create the flowering pitcher plants growing at the center of the bog,? recalled her husband of 44 years, Bob. ?So she stepped out into the middle of this thick, wet bog. She sketched for hours and captured as much detail as she could before going back to paint.?
Mrs. Pikrone, 65, of Elburn, a nationally known watercolorist whose unique blend of depth and detail made veins of flowers and greenery seemingly pop from her canvases, died of lung cancer Tuesday, Dec. 9, in her home.
?Her work was extraordinary,? said longtime friend Roger Antes of Lake Forest. ?We have a watercolor of hers with six different flowers that?s so rich in detail. It?s just incredibly beautiful.?
For more than 20 years, Mrs. Pikrone was a frequent exhibitor at art fairs throughout the country, where she often took Best of Show, those close to her say.
?She was invited to every show she ever applied to and her work always stood out,? Antes said.
Born in Minneapolis, Mrs. Pikrone moved with her family to Chicago?s Galewood neighborhood on the West Side when she was 8. After graduating from Steinmetz High School, she attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied sculpting.
In 1964, Mrs. Pikrone married her husband, with whom she had three daughters. The couple lived with their children in Oak Park before moving to Elburn 20 years ago.
Mrs. Pikrone put her art on hold while raising her family. One day her husband found in their basement a watercolor she had painted in her teens.
?It was amazingly beautiful, an underwater scene with mermaids and [fish],? he recalled. ?I told her right then and there she had to start painting again.?
By the mid-1980s, Mrs. Pikrone was selling her botanical watercolors at a brisk pace at art fairs and through commissioned projects. She described her paintings as ?a contrast of strong, simple stems and leaves against delicate, fragile, often seductive petals that typically attract me to my favorites: amaryllis, trillium, lotus and orchid.?
?What I respected most was her craftsmanship,? said George Bucher of Sunbury, Pa., a fellow artist and art fair exhibitor. ?She had complete control of her medium. She re-created something real into a decorative image that could still breathe life.?
Other survivors include three daughters, Gayle Richardson, Christy Talbert and Deanne Slapa; a brother, Bruce Sanfillippo; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial celebration is planned for the spring.
The Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution to memorialize her:
WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois Senate are saddened to learn of the death of Sharon Ann Pikrone of Elburn, who passed away on December 9, 2008;
WHEREAS, Sharon Ann Pikrone was born in Minneapolis; she moved with her family to Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood on the West Side when she was eight years old; after graduating from Steinmetz High School, she attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied sculpting;
WHEREAS, In 1964, Sharon Ann Pikrone married her husband, Bob; together, they had three daughters; the couple lived with their children in Oak Park before moving to Elburn 20 years ago;
WHEREAS, For more than 20 years, Sharon Ann Pikrone was a frequent exhibitor at art fairs throughout the country, where she was often awarded Best of Show; her watercolor paintings were lauded for their detail, delicacy, and intensity of color;
WHEREAS, Sharon Ann Pikrone is survived by her loving husband, Bob; her daughters, Gayle Richardson, Christy Talbert, and Deanne Slapa; her brother, Bruce Sanfillippo; and her seven grandchildren; therefore, be it RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE NINETY-SIXTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we mourn, along with her family and friends, the passing of Sharon Ann Pikrone; and be it further RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to the family of Sharon Ann Pikrone as an expression of our sympathy.