Shana Rowe Jackson and/or Caution: Artist at Play
Music chosen by Shana
What’s your background?
I grew up in a rural area of Maine surrounded by woods, fields, and farmland. I spent most of my childhood playing outside barefooted with my closest friends. We got to ride horses at the farm next door and play in the field across the street. In the woods we were always building cabins and making our own worlds. I didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but I always had one heck of an imagination. When I think of those days I think of blue skies, wild flowers, and green grass. I guess you never fully forget your home town.
Does your artwork come from that background?
Absolutely! I always had an interest in art from as far back as I can remember. It was even mentioned in my baby book that I knew all my colors at an oddly young age. I can remember sitting on my front porch with my kid watercolor set and Q-tips drawing people and teaching myself how to mix skin tones. I was about nine years old. I always say that I didn’t choose art, it chose me. My childhood definitely influences my work in the fact that I spent most of my time outside and I love creating nature themed artwork. I am always going for subjects that make me feel nostalgic, and I try to convey that feeling in my work. A lot of my work has blue skies and green grass like I mentioned in the previous question.
What are you trying to say with your work?
I think that I like to create images that will make the viewer feel happy when they look at them. As I mentioned before there is usually a feeling of nostalgia involved. I’d like my work to give its viewers the same feeling they have when they think of a good memory. The world already has so much negativity and I feel that as an artist, I have the gift of being able to bring some beauty into it.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
I actually work with a variety of media, and each for different reasons. I love colored pencil for its precision and level of detail I can get with it. I love acrylics, oils and pastels for their vibrancy, and watercolor for its own unique textures. Then there are times when I feel like I can’t go wrong with good old graphite and charcoal. It really depends on the piece I am working on and the feeling I am trying to convey. It also depends on how messy I want to get that day! There are times when working with the raw materials is part of the process that I am looking for. When I want to get really involved and dirty and be a part of the artwork I will choose something like pastel, but when I am looking for something with clean precision then I will work with colored pencil. Sometimes I combine different media in one piece.
Do you work in a studio?
I do have a studio space. It is still fairly new and I am still working on it so no photos yet. But I am able to work in it and it is really nice to be able to have all my supplies in one place. My studio is my “Shana” room. All my art books, my scrap books, my old and new work are there. There are little nick-knacks and mementos from my life, and prints from some of my favorite artists. Basically I like to surround myself with things that inspire me. I use to just sit and work in the middle of my living room floor and my art supplies were stored and scattered all over the place. It is nice to have a dedicated space where I can just get in the zone.
What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?
As far as working in the studio, I could not be without my lighting. I need a lot of lighting because my studio only has one window. I have a few lamps and photography lights, all of them with daytime bulbs in them to help with color accuracy.
Who are your biggest influences?
My all-time favorite artist is Claude Monet. Which is funny because I don’t paint impressionistic-ally very often anymore, but I have always loved his work. I remember my fifth grade teacher showing us Monet’s work and seeing it made something inside me sing. Even as I type I know how corny that sounds, but I don’t have any other way to describe it. I already wanted to be an artist, but his work spoke to me in a way that told me to not ever give up on that dream.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
This is a tough question and the answer varies from day to day. I think at this moment it is my “Citrus Sunshine” oil painting. Mainly because I have always found oil painting to be more challenging than the other mediums I work in and have always considered it my “weaker” medium. With this piece I finally feel like I have reached the level I have been striving for and that it can stand up next to my colored pencil and acrylic works.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
It depends on the size and medium I am working in. Generally speaking, acrylic is a lot quicker for me than colored pencil or even oil. A colored pencil piece could take me anywhere between 10 and 25 hours (sometimes more) depending on the size and subject, usually spread out over a couple of weeks. Whereas some acrylic pieces can be done in one sitting. It also depends on what else I have going on at the time too. I work and go to school so sometimes it will take me almost two months to get a piece done just because I lack the time to sit down and work on it.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
I think walking away is the hardest part. When I get to a point where I think it might be finished, I will take a few photos or scan it so I can see it in a new light. Usually when I do this, I can see if there is something I need to improve on. Sometimes I will set a piece aside overnight and come back to it with fresh eyes the next day to do touch ups on it then. There is almost always something I will want to fix, so I always have a touch up phase. I call it finished when it is no longer driving me crazy.
What project are you working on now?
I actually just finished a commission last night. It is a colored pencil piece of a bride and groom on a dock by the ocean, it’s going to be a gift for someone so I am not able to post photos of it at this time. Right now I am trying to decide what I want to do next. I have a triptych in acrylic that I want to do for an upcoming YouTube video so I might start the preliminary work on that.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
This is advice that I (and I am sure most other artists) have heard from multiple sources, but it absolutely rings true. Practice, Practice, Practice. Do something creative every day. You will not improve how you create without creating.
What was the first piece of art you sold?
If I remember correctly, I think it was a commission that my dad’s friend had me do when I was a teenager. It was a portrait of his granddaughter, and shortly after he also had me do one of him. It was a long time ago, so I am not positive if I had sold anything before then.
Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?
I do find it hard to navigate the art world. Sometimes it is like speaking a whole other language. To me creating has always been the easy part. It comes natural to me because it is a part of who I am. Selling my art is a whole different story. I find the concept of “finding my audience” to be very difficult. I honestly do not know who I should market my work to. I create what I love, but I am not sure who else would love it. I think a lot of artists struggle with this. Figuring out my target audience is hard enough, but trying to reach out to them is also tough. There is so much art online these days that at times it feels like it can be difficult to be seen. Also charging what it is worth is difficult for me. I do not come from money so it is difficult for me to fathom people spending a lot of money on something that is not considered a “necessity.” Even though I know how expensive and time consuming it is to create art, I still have a difficult time asking for what it’s worth.
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
I am currently going for my Bachelor’s in Fine Art degree. I am doing this, not so much to get a job, but because I want to learn as much as I can about art. I will always probably consider myself self-taught because I had taken 10 years off between high school and college and already had an established art style before entering school. However, school has its benefits. I am networking with people through my school and making connections that I would not have otherwise. School has also opened me up to opportunities that I would not have had, such as designing the walking map for a local city. I am also getting ready to participate in my first art walk, which I would not have done if not for one of my class mates.
I have also been working on my career outside of school. I have written a couple of colored pencil tutorials, one for Ann Kullberg’s Color Magazine, and another for One of Ann Kullberg’s books, DRAW landscapes in colored pencil. I also have a YouTube channel where I do tutorials and art book and supply reviews.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
I usually price my work 1.00 per square inch, but I am getting ready to raise my prices because I have been upgrading my art supplies and can no longer justify pricing my work that low. I am thinking about switching to pricing per linear inch because there is less of a jump in price between sizes, but I am not sure yet. As I mentioned before pricing is something I have difficulty with. I have been told many times by other artists that I underprice so I think it is time that I change that.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I definitely use social media to network. Here are my links!
Is there anything that really annoys you about the art world?
Absolutely. Artists telling other artists that what they do isn’t art. I am so sick of seeing artists put other artists down just because they create differently. If I had a nickel for every time I heard phrases like “Abstract isn’t art,” “A three year old could do that,” “Realism isn’t art it’s a skill,” “Digital art isn’t a real art, the computer does everything,” and “Using an eraser is cheating.” I would be a billionaire. I personally love all forms of art and am glad that not everybody creates the same way. How boring would that be? I have tried a lot of different styles over the years and can honestly say that unless you have given a valiant effort to create in a certain style of art, you don’t know what goes into it. You don’t know how much creativity goes into realism unless you have done it, you don’t know how much skill goes into abstract unless you have done it, and you don’t know how little the computer was involved in creating a digital piece unless you have done it. People are so quick to judge things that they don’t understand. We should all be supporting each other, not bringing each other down.
What advice would you give new artists?
Don’t worry about consciously trying to find your personal style. Instead, be authentic. Learn all you can, and be inspired. Create and do what you love based on the subjects you love. Do what feeds your soul and your personal style will follow naturally.
10 Tips and Tricks for Artists by Shana
Have you got hobbies?
Most of my hobbies include art in some way or another. I love to read, but I am usually always reading something art related. I also love to write and make jewelry. Photography is something else I love to do, especially bird photography. I usually use my photos as references for drawings and paintings.
Where are you based?
I am based in a small town in Maine, USA, close to the town I grew up in. Shana Rowe Jackson and/or Caution: Artist at Play
CONTACT SHANA HERSELF, USING THE FORM
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I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂
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