Monday, June 11, 2007

Etsy Featured Shop - ShaylaMaddox

I found my newest featured artist, Shayla Maddox in the forums on Etsy. When I clicked on her shop I was amazed by the beauty and unique artwork that she has to offer. It's completely different from anything I have seen up until now so of course wanted to learn more. She's also from SoCal so I'm happy to be featuring someone local after my last feature from half way around the world!
What are Light Reactive Paintings?
When I was first painting, I found the flat, regular paint I was working with very limiting. I wasn't able to capture the inspiration I had onto a canvas properly. I wanted something that was more experiential and participatory for the viewer. Each painting is made to look different in all forms of light. The sunshine coming through the windows changes color from the morning until the evening, and my paintings change with it, as well as shine and reflect differently depending on how you move around it. In the evening, a small black light used with regular interior lighting (or better yet - candles) gives the painting its best effect, and seem to light it up from within, adding color and dimension that are otherwise invisible. On top of all that, I love that after you turn all the lights off, the painting glows in the dark!

How and when did you get your start with this unique art?
I've always been an artist. My mom painted and worked in stained glass. Coloring books were my favorite activity, although I've participated in everything from sculpting to jewelry making. A few years ago, out of nowhere, I suddenly had an overwhelming need to paint something. I asked a painter I knew (who eventually became a mentor) for advice on starting and he said, "Whatever you do, don't make it good." It pretty much took off from there. I became obsessed with painting and began getting these vivid visions of color in my mind that I needed to express somewhere. All artists see color in a different way - a way that is unique to their own life experiences. I wanted to show people the way I see it.

What materials do you use for texture in your pieces?
Often I'll just use paint, which takes a lot of time and build-up, but I like knowing that it's created from just paint. I love using real beach sand as texture, since it's so intrinsic to my life. I've always lived near the water. I like that I'm using something so inherently earth-based to create art about heavenly things. Occasionally, I'll use candle wax, dripping straight from the candles I burn in my apartment. I think it's sort of romantic. The candles are a part of my personal life and experiences, so it's natural to use them in my art. They're so moody and dreamy.

What was your inspiration for this painting?
This style in particular really emphasizes my fascination with light. I originally came up with the concept during the month of June, when the color of the light was especially brilliant. It's one of my very favorite designs. June is a beautiful month. The air is warm and the sky is the bluest it can be. I feel very calm being surrounded by such natural clarity. I love long summer days that stay light until almost 9pm! The only thing better than the beautiful summer sunlight is the arrival of the June moon, bringing with it countless stars (and fireflies!)

How long does it generally take you to complete a piece?
A long time. I start with meditating on an inspiration that often just comes to me for no particular reason. I listen to music that I feel relates to the concept I want to paint, or the mood I feel about it. After sketching out my ideas, I start painting. The techniques I use require lots of layering and drying time. It depends on the size, but I'd say it generally takes about 2-3 weeks to complete a smaller painting and well over a month or more to finish my larger pieces.

You describe your paintings as portals to Thin Spaces. What do you mean by that?
Thin Spaces are transcendent moments that happen when the spiritual world and natural world intersect. To believe in these moments, one must believe in a reality that exists beyond what we are able to see with our eyes. Personally, I take a broad definition of what it means, since it means something different to each person who experiences it. These moments are without time, and can happen anywhere: watching a sunset, star gazing, walking through the forest, even hearing a child laugh. Thin Spaces happen when you suddenly feel that the natural world around you is part of something greater or has a higher meaning. My paintings are my expression of these moments, and I hope that they encourage others to take notice of when they happen in their own lives. I believe the meditation and contemplation of these Thin Spaces will bring greater understanding to those who experience them.

Are you involved with art in other ways?
Yes! Gosh, where to begin? I spent the greater part of my life focused on acting. I've been in lots of plays and a handful of independent films, some of which went to film festivals and such. For a few years, I made the circuit in Los Angeles, auditioning for various things every couple of days. It was exhausting! Ultimately I realized that I didn't like the business side of acting as much as I liked the acting. I'd still like to do the occasional acting gig throughout my life for fun. Aside from that, I'm also part of a group that holds periodic artistic events in the community with emphasis on spirituality and contemplation. Last November, I directed an Art Festival with over 30 participating artists!

A portion of your sales go to Acres Of Love. What is Acres Of Love?
Acres of Love is an amazing organization. Their goal is to provide "forever homes" for abandoned children in South Africa. Most of the children are HIV-positive. Many are orphaned because both of their parents have died from AIDS. Some are left on the doorstep of the organization, while others are found in dumpsters and gutters. Acres of Love provides each child with personal attention, love, medication, education, and a life. They give them small family groups to live in and grow in for as long as the child is with us. It's not an orphanage at all. It's a functioning family-like environment for children who would otherwise have nothing. Through Acres of Love, each child is loved, part of a family, and given the best care possible. Children who were born with a short, bleak future now have a family, food, time to sing songs, do art projects, and enjoy a true sense of happiness. They have hope.

Why did you choose this particular organization?
A friend told me about it a few years ago, and I fell in love with their vision immediately. I believe in what they do wholeheartedly. It's not simply an AIDS crisis organization. They have a one on one personal commitment to each child, because they believe that every child deserves that. I've always believed in giving to charities, even when there's little to give. Giving reminds us of how much we have, and gives us the opportunity to focus on something outside of ourselves. We get so lost inside our own problems that we fail to recognize everyone else on the planet. Acres of Love gives me a clear picture of what life and humanity can be at its best and its worst. I'm so grateful to the people involved for what they do every day. If children do not have hope, neither does humanity as we know it.

How has your work evolved from when you started and where is it going next?
My very first painting was black and white. I'd been advised to start with 2 cans of house paint that I could buy in the "oops" section at Home Depot, so I wouldn't feel pressure to conserve expensive paints. Over time I began acquiring better materials, and started exploring different textures and "effects" like using color that can only be seen with a uv light and gloss that reflects all light. It wasn't enough to have a regular painting. I needed it to feel "alive" and be more immersive while viewing it. I wanted the art to breathe and change every time you saw it. I want to keep exploring that and work with new materials that will enhance the experiential quality of my work. There are more colors in the world than we are able to see with our unaided human eyes. I'd like to find all of them. I'm in love with the cosmos, and it would be a dream to show my work in an observatory one day.

Art Show information:
Shayla Maddox will be featured in her first art show with the reception on July 13, 2007 from 6-9pm at Townley Fine Art in Laguna Beach, CA. Her art will be shown there through the end of July 2007 so if you are going to be in Southern California during that time, I definitely suggest taking the time to check it out. For more information on Shayla, also check out her website.


Tamara said...

Shayla's work is amazing, I have admired it for a while, and I admire her even more now that I have read about her generous spirit.

The Mommy and Me Boutique said...

What a great interview. I too like to feature Etsy artist and I like the way your are so extensive in letting them express themselves. lovely blog!

shayoa said...

Thanks again, Natalie! I really enjoyed this. I've been passing it around to everyone! So much fun! Hope you're having a great day up in LA! (It's been HOT lately. guh.)

:o) shayla

stfunny said...

Love Love LOVE Shayla's work! She is absolutely in my top three artists, if not my number one. What a wonderful interview! Thanks for writing it. :)