Student Stories: Sharon Bruster

Welcome to the latest post in the occasional series I’m calling Student Stories! 

I felt it was high time I celebrated and shared the work of some of the artists who have interacted with my work in some way over the years as part of their art journey. Some have taken a course {or courses}, some have been following the blog or reading Artnotes for years, or a combination of these.

These short stories are about where their work and my work met, and what they experienced after that. Please go and check out the links of these artists and like, follow, and support them however you wish! A rising tide lifts all boats, and all that. 🙂


This week’s artist: Sharon Bruster

I first found Tara’s work a few years ago when doing an online search for ‘free art courses’ as far as I recall. I had just done an exceptional mini art course (it was like a foundation course in art and I learned so much) with a one to one artist/tutor, which totally inspired me, and quite literally ‘opened my eyes’ to the possibilities for making art and I was hungry for more.

Finding Tara’s website, I immediately connected with her art – I loved the palette and the themes and the ‘freeness’ of it – and also the way Tara wrote. I jumped in and made the most of all the fab ‘free stuff’ and then signed up for my first of Tara’s courses and her Facebook group.

I honestly haven’t looked back since! That first art course and then everything I absorbed from Tara’s inspiration and teachings and her lovely Facebook groups were the springboard to something that has for me been totally transformational and fulfilling.

Sharon Bruster seascape

At that point I’d say I was an enthusiast!

I had always loved drawing as a child but somehow, as I got older, the school environment kind of knocked the enjoyment of making art out of me. To get the art teacher’s attention you had to be an ‘A grade’ artist (ie must do well in GCE/A Level art), and the rest of the class got little encouragement.

Plus, academic studies and years of homework and exams took away the ‘leisure time’ I would have spent drawing when I was younger. I drifted away from making art. And then followed university and a busy career and even less time to make art.

But I always continued to look at a lot of art, making the most of opportunities to visit galleries and exhibitions. David Hockney is my absolute art hero! I dreamed that one day I would find a way to make art again. Giving up my job and relocating to Cornwall 5 years ago gave me two things – time and unlimited inspiration!

Sharon Bruster beachscape

So I would say that when I first started to take Tara’s courses I was full of enthusiasm and curiosity and had a passion to learn. I think that’s where I still am, actually, and probably the thing I love most about making art is the many opportunities to learn and grow. I do believe that lifelong learning is the thing that keeps us alive!

I have now done each of Tara’s courses, I attend a weekly life drawing/portraiture class and I treat myself to an annual course at the Newlyn School of Art. I put effort into improving my practice. I think I’ve always been careful to choose learning opportunities that encourage exploration rather than ‘copying’…when you copy, you don’t really understand, when you explore, you learn and it becomes your own. {Tara: A million per cent yes!}

Sharon Bruster shells

I think the main thing I discovered is probably the realisation that just turning up and doing the work, and keeping on doing it, is the thing that makes the biggest difference and helps you find your own style and voice.

And curiosity….wanting to explore, to learn, to try new things, to experiment. That’s what keeps me excited about making art. And some things ‘stick’ and others don’t, so gradually we find what works for us.

I also discovered that it’s quite normal to feel unsure, unconfident and unclear about your art. I seem still to lurch from thinking my work is good to truly believing it is terrible. Imposter syndrome and anxiety about whether my work is ‘good enough’ (for what, exactly, I am still not sure!) lurks over my shoulder constantly…but my decision to put my work ‘out there’ has helped with that to some extent.

Sharon Bruster wave

Firstly, through following lots of artists on Instagram I have learned that everyone seems to suffer the same demons (this is quite reassuring!) and secondly, posting my pictures for people to see is a great way of learning to ‘let go’ of them.

Plus I have realised that there will always be someone who says something nice or encouraging, and that is a great confidence builder.

I think I am still discovering my ‘voice’ as an artist. I am realising it is an ongoing thing. I am certainly clear that all I really want to paint (right now) is inspired by the coast.

I hover somewhere between abstraction and realism and I like colour. I enjoy my drawing classes because they are teaching me to ‘look’. I like to evoke a mood and a sense of a place rather than try to make a literal interpretation. Maybe that is good enough level of understanding of my ‘voice’ for right now!

Sharon Bruster abstract landscape

I can honestly say I enjoyed each of Tara’s courses. I learned something from each one and I still dip in and out of them when I am in need of a boost of inspiration. Her Expressive Charcoal course really made me fall in love with charcoal though.

I also learned to love the notion of working in multiples and series and Tara was so encouraging in getting me to push my work further and not let something be finished when it felt ‘just good enough’. I have also adopted one of Tara’s actions, the ‘Bold Move‘, using disruption to move a painting on.

Being part of the Facebook groups associated with Tara’s courses has been and continues to be a fantastic experience too – I feel that I have made new friends from around the globe. It’s such an inspiring and supportive community – my first ever experience of social media and 100% positive, very much confidence building too. It also gave me the confidence to expand by joining Instagram and more recently setting up a Facebook page for my art.

Sharon Bruster landscape

I started selling paintings in a local gallery in 2018 and my goal for 2019 was to get out there and approach more galleries. As a result I am now selling in three galleries and have recently joined an online platform, which has given me exhibition opportunities too. I have also sold paintings as a result of my developing Instagram and Facebook presence.

I still find it astonishing! It is nerve wracking approaching galleries, and of course it will never be the case that everyone says ‘yes’, but sometimes they do, and that is wonderful. I am amazed, delighted, grateful and proud of every sale I make.

Sharon BrusterTo see more of Sharon’s lovely work and connect with her, find her at:







AbstractifyIf Sharon’s lovely enthusiasm has got you curious about my courses, you might like to check out Abstractify, which is open for registration right now.

This is the course where we dive into a playful but purposeful discovery and development of your unique voice and expression as an artist.

This is the only course I’ll be running this year with live daily feedback from me until February 29th, and it’s also the last time it’ll be available at the current price. If you’d like to learn more and join us, click here and I’ll see you in class!