The Scoop

Ride the Wave

Westerly’s Sharon White makes art out of old and broken surfboards

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Artist Sharon White knows the feeling of “dancing on the waves” and being one with the ocean on a surfboard. But she also loves painting. Nine months ago, she combined her love of the two, and began repurposing old and damaged surfboards – a unique concept for this region that is already popular in California, Hawaii, and other states and countries.

“Surfers bond with their surfboards, and each board carries a vibe and memories,” says Sharon, a Westerly native and self-taught artist.

The process of transforming a surfboard into a new work of art involves cleaning and removing any existing surf wax, drafting a design, outlining it with chalk, painting it, and finishing with a clear protective coating. Sharon also creates designs on new surfboards, which start with a foam blank and an acrylic base color. Once the art has been created, it is covered with fiberglass and epoxy resin coatings.

“Each piece is different and takes approximately two to three weeks to complete, depending on the complexity of the design. Commissioned pieces will take more time, and communication of each step of the process with the owner of the custom-designed board is key,” Sharon explains.

Recently, a customer brought her a vintage Tropics surfboard from Maui. “The board was going to be specifically used as wall art. She wanted a tribal turtle design with a sting ray in the center of the turtle.”

Sharon also creates her own original designs on old surfboards that she finds and that other people bring to her. She hopes to “someday have a design purchased by a major board company.”

The Stonington, Connecticut resident is also busy creating original works on canvas, reverse painting on glass, and working on her own online clothing line, which was prompted by her studies in theater/costume design at URI. She took her parents’ advice and went to college, she admits, to avoid becoming a “starving artist,” and since then has successfully managed to turn her creative passions into a business.

Sharon’s surfboard art will be featured at High Tide Juice Co. in Westerly indefinitely, and at Smith’s Holiday House in Watch Hill through October.