Getting to Know Shana Rowe Jackson AKA Caution: Artist at Play
I am most inspired by nature and food. Much of my work is either landscape, wildlife or still life. Even when I do portraits, I like to incorporate elements of nature.
When did you first become interested in art?
I don’t remember a time when I was not interested in art. I was very creative as a young child, as many children are. But, for me, I just always knew that creating art is how I wanted to spend my life. I have distinct memories as early as around 8 years old of documenting my work in scrapbooks because I knew that when I became a “famous” artist, I would want to look back at my work to see how much I had improved. Now, I am much less concerned with becoming famous and much more concerned with spending my life artfully in any way I can. I am grateful that I had the foresight to keep my old work, I still look back on it fondly today and love to see how far I have come on my artistic journey.
What style of art do you use most?
I am drawn to realism more than any other style. Though I also enjoy surrealism and illustration. I also love photography, so that has become a big part of my process. I take most of my own reference photos for my artwork which connects me to my subjects on a deeper level. However, I never just copy a photograph verbatim, I make a lot of changes throughout the creative process and use my intuition and imagination to infuse my own character into my work. To me realism is intimacy. Realism takes a lot of time and observation, so when I am creating, I am really getting to know my subject on an intimate level. Therefore, I try to choose subjects that really speak to me.
Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?
Oh yes, of course! I have always liked realism, but having created art my entire life, I have dabbled with all different kinds of materials, subjects, and styles. I have tried everything from abstract, to surrealism, realism, illustration, and impressionism. All this exploration has led to where I am today. I continue to explore new materials and concepts and am fully aware that where I am now is not where I will always be. I think it’s important to grow and evolve as an artist and there is always more to learn!
What medium do you use?
I just love trying different art supplies, so I work with several materials. My two favorite materials to work with are acrylics and colored Pencils. But in recent years I have also really enjoyed working with markers, watercolors, and oil pastels!
I love acrylics for their vibrancy and immediacy. I love colored pencils for their ability to create fine detail. Both are very versatile mediums.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
Both! As I mentioned earlier, I often work from photographs that I have taken. However, I also love surrealism and am particularly fond of supernatural subjects like fairies, mermaids and things involving spirituality. So, I often combine photos I have taken with sketches I have done from imagination to create my surreal artwork. There are times though, that I work 100% from imagination, it all depends on the subject and my mood that day.
How long does it normally take you to complete a piece?
It depends on the subject and the medium I am working in. I have had some pieces take me less than an hour and I have had more detailed colored pencil pieces take me over 15 hours. Size is a factor as well. Larger pieces take longer than small ones usually.
Do you enjoy the creation of the piece (sketching out) or the finishing more?
I enjoy both, but I have to say, once I am at the point where I am putting color or value down, that is my happy space. Creating is like meditation to me.
Do you work in a studio? Tell us something about it, photo if possible but not necessary
I do have a studio space, but it’s currently being renovated, so I don’t have any recent photos of it. It is nice to have a space set up specifically to create in. While I am renovating my space, I have been working in my living room. I am a firm believer that you can create anywhere, however, I am eager to get back into my studio!!
Which other artist, dead or alive, would you love to meet?
Monet. Hands down. His work has inspired me since I was just a little girl. Even though I don’t tend to work impressionistically these days, I have learned so much from studying that style!
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
Oh man, that is a tough one to decide. I think my colored pencil portrait of my husband is up there in the ranks, not only am I proud of how it came out, but it also has a lot of sentimental value to me.
How well do you take criticism?
I was self-taught for the better part of my life, but 10 years after I graduated High School, I finally went back to school and got my Bachelor’s in Art. One of the main things you learn in art school is how to give and receive constructive criticism. I am now much more equipped to handle criticism of my work and to know when advice can be seen as constructive, or when it should be discarded.
There are many ways to overcome it, but for me it’s just a matter of making myself just do it. Just sit down with a pencil and start sketching. Something, anything at all. I find once I get over the initial starting point, the creative juices start flowing again, and ideas start coming back to me.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
When I stop feeling the need to fuss with it. There are always a few touch ups at the end of the painting process. I like to scan or photograph my work to get a different view of it. I will also set it aside and come back with fresh eyes. If when I look at it there is something that my eye gets stuck on that bugs me I will fix it. When there are no longer parts that catch my eye in a negative way, I am done.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
I have been a part of a few gallery shows over the years. My most recent in-person exhibition was in 2020 as a graduating art student. It was my senior thesis exhibition. I decided to do a series of landscapes with an emphasis on skies. I worked my butt off and came up over a dozen paintings. Some of them are among my best works.
Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?
Currently, I am more focused on marketing online and on growing my YouTube channel. However, if an opportunity pops up that interests me I would definitely love to display my work publicly again.
What are you currently working on?
I am about to start a watercolor painting of some poinsettias. I have it sketched out but have not had the chance to put paint to paper yet. I am very excited to see where it goes!
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue with my YouTube channel, where I do a lot of product reviews and content to help other artists on their creative journey. Once my studio is back up and running, I would also like to film some online courses and workshops for other artists. I enjoy interacting with and helping other artists in any way I can.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist? What advice would you give new artists?
The best advice I have been given as an artist was from a professor who taught us the importance of learning how to speak and write about our own art. As artists, we all like to think that our work can speak for itself, but that is seldom the case. Often people want to know the story behind what they are looking at, and the artist is only person who can give that to them definitively. So, I guess that would be my advice to other artists as well. That and don’t ever give up. Look at your own art as inspiration and to see how far you have come and keep going. It only gets better from here!
Do you think the internet has altered the way artists can get known? If so, is it easier or not? Has the internet made infringement easier etc?
I think that the internet has made the world a smaller place, so in that regard it is much easier to be known around the world than it once was. That being said, it is also very saturated, so it can be hard at times to be seen among the crowd. I do think it has made infringement a lot easier for the same reasons. Your work will be in contact with people that it may not have ever been in front of before, some of those people are not always going to be upstanding with their intentions when they interact with your work. It’s a sad truth in the world we live in today.
Have you done any courses to help you?
As I mentioned, I have my Bachelor’s in Art, but up until then I was self-taught. In my time as a self-taught artist, before I went to school, I read a lot of books! That helped me a ton. I also experimented with a lot of different styles and materials. By the time I went to school, I was already working in my current style and had a pretty good idea of who I was as an artist. Art School provided experiences that I had never had. I got to work in a sculpture studio with materials that I hadn’t before. I got to draw from live nude models, which was something that I was not doing in my home studio. I also got to learn art history from experts in the field. Most impactfully, got to create next to other artists in the studio which gave us each the opportunity to learn from one another. So, my education, combined with my hard work and experimentation in the years before going to school helped me become a more well-rounded artist.
What do you do to market your work?
I mostly do online marketing through social media. I have also done art walks and other in-person events.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
Yes I do. I use Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/cautionartistatplay
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@cautionartistatplay and
Are you available for work (commissions)?
I am not accepting commissions currently. I am hoping to open commission back up later this year, as time permits.
Most of my hobbies are art related. However, I do love reading, listening to music and taking trips to explore new places with my husband.
Do you have a significant other? Are they supportive?
My husband Jason is very supportive. He goes to all my art shows with me, buys me supplies for my Birthday and Christmas, he is the one who has been renovating my studio. He helped me study while I was in school. He has been my biggest supporter and best friend throughout my creative journey.
What do your family think about what you do?
Overall, my family has been very supportive. I also have a very supportive group of friends who are like family to me. Everyone that I am close to has some of my art hanging on their walls, which is really cool to see when visiting.
What do you dream about when asleep?
All kinds of whacky things! Lol I have been inspired by dreams more than once when it comes to art. It was actually a series of dreams that led me to trying colored pencil, which effectively changed my life as an artist!
Where are you based?
I am based in the United States, in the state of Maine.
1 thought on “Getting to Know Shana Rowe Jackson AKA Caution: Artist at Play”
Great article and beautiful artwork!