For artist Sharon Elsey, the outdoor environment of Garrett County makes it the perfect place to live. Being surrounded by nature’s beauty is an inspiration to this local acrylic artist. “When I’m outside,” Elsey said, “I wonder ‘how can I paint that?’”

A Garrett County native, she was raised in the Annapolis and Glen Burnie, Maryland areas. When her parents purchased the Swallow Falls Inn, near the entrance to the state park, Elsey moved back and has enjoyed living in her home county. She paints anything related to the outdoors, from scenic areas, to paddlers, climbers, mountain bikers, and playful snow activities. She sometimes even takes on portraits of pets. Her favorite subjects are water and snow. Since developing her talents, she looks at everything with a different perspective.

Around 2006, Elsey was watching a painting program on television. The show prompted her to order a paint kit that included an easel, canvases, and the paints. She just started painting. As a self-taught artist, she has found helpful guidance on YouTube, artist magazines, and by studying the work of fellow painters. She dabbled into painting with oils when she took a portrait class from Edna Bender, another skilled local painter. Recently she has tried to bring some of her thoughts to canvas by painting scenes with sailboats or wintertime fun such as sledding and ice skating.

Elsey’s creativity spills over into her professional life. Working for the Adventure Sports program at Garrett College, her duties include a lot of layout and design work for promotional materials including website and calendars. Some of the adventure photos inspire adventure themed paintings.

The artist has been exhibiting her work at The Gallery Shop of Garrett County Arts Council since 2008. She has had work displayed in gallery spaces at the county Visitor Center, Moon Shadow Cafe, and Grand Central Station, all in McHenry. She was also featured in the Garrett College Art Gallery. Currently her painting of the iconic Mayhew Inn Road swayback barn is part of a new gallery space in the Garrett County Courthouse building. She also is recognized in the Maryland Artist Registry, a showcase of creative talent from across the state found on the Maryland State Arts Council’s web page.

When not working or painting, Elsey volunteers in prison ministry called Celebrate Recovery. For seven years she led a women’s recovery group at a Garrett County church. More than four years ago, she began offering the program at the nearby women’s facility of the Hazelton, West Virginia Federal Prison.

Elsey continues to learn and expand her artistic knowledge. “I now feel confident that I can do a painting and have a finished product in 20 hours or less.” She offers consignment work and paint parties. And she has taught numerous classes. She will instruct an intermediate acrylic course on Tuesday evenings, April 2-23 at through the Continuing Education Department of Garrett College.

On a regular basis, the artist’s paintings and note cards can be found by visiting The Gallery Shop at 108 S. Second St, in downtown Oakland on Monday-Saturday from 10:00am-5:30 pm. The Garrett County Arts Council is supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council (, Garrett County Government, and through membership support. For more information or to become a member, contact GCAC at 301-334-6580, visit, and like Garrett County Arts Council and The Gallery Shop on Facebook.