As a young woman in Oklahoma City in 1978, Sherrie McGraw was urged by her teachers Richard and Edith Goetz to move to New York City to study at the famed Art Students League where they had studied within the lineage of Robert Brackman and George Bridgeman. In her initial years at the League, McGraw studied primarily with the legendary artist David A Leffel, but she also learned anatomy through Robert Beverly Hale and Jon Zahourek at the New York Academy, and later with one of the art world’s leading experts on drawing and painting the horse from life, Ned Jacob.
By the time she was thirty, she was teaching classes at the Art Students League, having been asked to take over those of Thomas Fogarty and Gustav Rehberger, as well as conduct her own.
Currently, McGraw teaches workshops throughout the country, giving lectures and demonstrations for art institutions such as the Portrait Society of America, Weekend with the Masters, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Brigham Young University, the Art Students League of New York and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where she was recently awarded an honorary doctorate. Her work has been shown in major institutions including the Butler Institute of American Art, where they hosted a large retrospective in 2014 and soon after, awarded her their highest honor—Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in American Art. She now joins the ranks of legendary art dealer Leo Castelli; sculptor Louise Nevelson; and influential director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas Hoving. Her work is in numerous prestigious collections, such as that of Senator John Warner, the Mellon family, the Forbes family, John Geraghty, Forest Fenn, Howard Terpning, Art and Catherine Nicolas and John Mellencamp. She was also the vice president of American Women Artists, an art organization that curated a cultural exchange exhibition in Sorrento, Italy in the year 2000.
McGraw is one of the leading proponents of Abstract Realism, which derives its name from the abstract appeal achieved when beautiful configurations of paint combine with a recognizable image. The result becomes a visual undercurrent that quietly moves the viewer through a painting. A visual concept, independent of story telling or literary intent, lends gravitas to an image that might otherwise be—at its extreme manifestations—merely self-expression or technical facility. She teaches online through a library of instructional videos called the Artists Guild, which is offered on www.brighlightfineart.com.
McGraw is the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Language of Drawing: From an Artist’s Viewpoint, which has drawn worldwide attention for its clear and simple approach to the art of drawing. She edited and wrote the foreword to The Drawings of Nicolai Fechin by Russia’s famed author Galina Tuluzakova, and co-edited Galina’s new scholarly treatise on Fechin’s legacy to the art world, Nicolai Fechin—The Art and the Life. She is presently writing an instructional book on painting.