Actor Sharon Stone turns to painting as creative outlet amid health issues

During the pandemic, a friend sent Sharon Stone a paint-by-numbers set to keep her busy, a gesture that has led to a new path of creative expression for the actor.

Known best for roles in films like “Casino” and “Basic Instinct,” Stone has discovered a love of painting and launched a show of her giant canvases at the C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut, this week.

Stone got frustrated staying within the lines and colors in that first paint set and started creating her own abstract paintings using acrylic on canvas.

Over the past several years she has carved out studio space in her home where she works both inside and outside and says she loves it because she always needs to be moving.

The show, titled “Welcome to My Garden” is only her second outing and features 19 of her brightly colored works. Stone, 65 and the mother to three sons, recently spoke with The Associated Press about artistic inspiration, battling health issues and whether she will act again. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

AP: How did you get inspired to be an artist?

STONE: Museums allowed me to come when they were closed so I went to museums all over the world on Mondays. That was unbelievable. I lived all over the world and worked all over the world, both in my life as an actress and my life as a peace activist and human rights activist. So I’ve seen so much extraordinary art that it’s almost like I got this sort of side degree in art and art history, which has just been magnificent. And that has been unbelievably inspiring to me.

AP: This passion for painting started with paint-by-numbers and then went quickly to 6-by-8-foot canvases?

STONE: I love the bigs. It just sends me to paint on a big canvas. If I could get bigger ones… (laughs.) I love painting in the big scale and it’s opened something in me. It’s moved something inside of me. My first show was called ‘Shedding’ because I started realizing I was shedding a lot of oppression. A lot of ‘You have to do it this way. You’re allowed to be creative, but it has to be like this.’

AP: How do you know when a painting is finished?

STONE: That’s the biggest discipline. Because in the beginning, you can’t stop. Because you never feel like, ‘That’s it.’ When this stuff was being wrapped up for this show, I put it all outside so I can see everything, all together. And then I was running around with this pallet. ‘Oh! Oh, my gosh! (gestures paint strokes) But then I was like, ‘You got to cool it.’ Because you can destroy everything, and you can just ruin your art if you don’t stop. You can go past a point of no return.

AP: How do you feel when you’re painting?

STONE: I feel valuable. Disciplined. I like work. And I like purpose. Art is purposeful. Art is greatly purposeful to me. And we do know that when we teach young people art, there is less recidivism in the prison system, and yet we’re taking art out of schools.

AP: Do you still want to act?

STONE: I don’t get much work as an actress. And the system hasn’t really supported me. I had a massive stroke when I was 41 and I walked away alive. I had about a 1-to-5% chance of survival. Everyone thought I was going to die. So many, many, many bad things happened to me because people presumed that I was dead. My bank account somehow went to zero while I was in the hospital, my money disappeared. I lost custody of my child. My career ended. All these things happened. I have a brain seizure condition that’s very serious. And I tried to hide that for many years because I wanted to make my way back in the business. And if you have a disability, that doesn’t really work in my industry. And so I hid in my condition for many, many, many years. And that’s who I am. I’m a woman with a brain seizure condition. I have a disability, and painting has helped me not have the anxiety I had. I was just so anxious that I wasn’t going to be OK and I couldn’t be accepted. And I was able to shed all that fear and trauma that I wouldn’t be accepted, I wouldn’t be able to work in my community. And you know what? They didn’t really want me anyway. They weren’t going to let me back in and I’m OK with that.

AP: You paint almost every day, what motivates you?

STONE: I love it so much and I love that it brings so much joy to people. It just does. It brings such pleasure. And I love when people come to the studio and they’re like, ‘Wow — we didn’t know!’

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