Philippi resident Sarah Ferguson has spent her entire life making artwork.
"As a kid, anytime I was bored, my mother would have me draw - and my interest grew from that," Ferguson said. "I remember becoming seriously interested when I was in middle school. My oldest sister, Mary Beth McCloy, told her high school art teacher about me. She always encouraged my artwork."
Ferguson said everyone in her family helped encourage her love of art and nature.
"My father is a social studies professor at Alderson-Broaddus College, Dr. Kenneth H. Yount," Ferguson said. "My parents' goal was to take myself and my two older sisters to every state in the U.S. by the time we graduated. I feel that travel shaped who I am and my love for the amazing world we live in. Those experiences definitely influence my art, and I am glad to be able to share those experiences with others through teaching and my art work."
As a child, Ferguson said her mother Carol, a photographer and oil painter, and sister, Kate Mullens, also helped inspire her work.
"I always try to take many pictures so that I can refer back to that inspiration when I have a little studio time," Ferguson said. "When my sisters and I were little, we would create outfits for our Barbie dolls and create islands. It was so much fun."
Ferguson currently teaches at the Randolph County Community Arts Center and George Ward Elementary School in Mill Creek.
"I will teach next school year at Homestead and Midland Elementary schools through ArtsBank," she said. "I also offer private art lessons to a dozen students in Barbour County."
"I really enjoy ArtsBank," Ferguson said. "It is a wonderful program, supported by students, parents, teachers and the community. It is wonderful to be surrounded by people who love and appreciate what I am working so hard to accomplish. Randolph County is very lucky to have such a wonderful program, and I appreciate those who have created the program and the artists before me who have paved the way. I hope that the program will continue to thrive and I hope that surrounding counties will see success and jump on board."
Ferguson said she considers Randolph County Community Arts Center a home away from home.
"What a blessing the Art Center is," Ferguson said. "I wish I could have found it sooner in life. While in college, I taught kids' drawing classes at the Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling. Randolph County Community Arts Center reminds me of that. I like the fact that I can create my own classes. The possibilities are endless."
Ferguson said her favorite medium is "every one of them," and she loves trying new techniques.
"Most of my work is watercolor and pastel," Ferguson said. "I have completed commissioned works including landscapes, animal portraits and human portraits. The most unusual request I received was to paint on an ostrich egg. I was hesitant, but it turned out beautiful."
Ferguson also volunteers at Barbour County Youth Arts Camp for third- through fifth-grade students. She has offered classes in soap carving, T-shirt design, drawing and portrait art.
Ferguson lives in Philippi with her husband, Pete, a science and math teacher. They have a son, Samuel, who loves to read and create with Legos.
She has entered artwork in the Mountain State Forest Festival, Barbour County Fair, Stonewall Jackson Jubilee and Strawberry Festival. She also encourages others to enter work into the Barbour County Fair each year, where she has won many awards, including best of show. She is a past member of the West Virginia Watercolor Society.
Upcoming events featuring Ferguson's work will include the Philippi Art Stroll from 5 to 8 p.m. April 30, a show at the Mullens and Mullens Law Office in Elkins and a show in the Maxwell Room at the Randolph County Community Arts Center during the 2013 Mountain State Forest Festival.