Artist: Shany Porras Location: Boston
So we’re going to start with the difficult question: sum up your creative process in one word/phrase, and explain why!
My creative process is “nurturing.” I paint every day. Each day when I come into my studio, I clean up first. I have to have a clean and serene space to create in, so I make sure everything is in its place, my mis en place. Once the studio is settled, then I can pay attention to my paintings without distraction. I usually have 3-5 paintings going on at the same time and I change them around the studio as I develop them. Currently, my paintings have a lot of texture, so I begin my canvases by preparing the foundation with layers of gesso and mediums which I scrape and draw on before I start to add paint. I play a lot at this stage, eager to find out what will develop on the foundation over the course of the next several days. Once I’ve selected the first color, the painting takes off on its own. I am merely reacting to the marks and the colors on the canvas, letting the painting tell me what it needs and I provide it, I nurture my paintings.
Were you always an artist, even as a child? What was your path to becoming an artist?
I have always been an artist. As a young girl in Caracas, my mother was my first role model and teacher. She made sure I took piano lessons and I attended the oil painting classes she took. I continued to pursue art and architecture in college, attaining a B.A. and B.F.A. and gave it a go, unable to pay my bills, as an artist for a couple of years after I graduated. Then I took a deep turn in life and left the arts for a job in Information Technology which developed into a successful Information Security Risk career. When I made the decision to go into a more structured career path in the corporate world, I left the arts almost entirely. I didn’t want to be reminded of something I loved and missed deeply so I compartmentalized it out of my mind. Something happened when I had my son in 2014. He reignited my need to create, and I began with photography. About a year later, I met two wonderful architects who inspired me to restart my journey to create art. Since then, I “retired” from Information Security and I am now a full-time artist. I can’t adequately explain the feeling of being home again in the arts.
What is your medium of choice and what drew you to this particular medium?
I got really ill in college when I was surrounded by oil paints in a shared studio. As a result, I discovered acrylics about 25 years ago as a healthier alternative and it’s remained as my medium of choice. I use charcoal and a variety of other drawing mediums. I have a love affair with charcoal even though it messes up my studio!
Is there any particular experience, person, place or thing that inspires you to create? Tell us about that.
I’ve always loved abstract art, always always. I love to see it in person. I get divine inspiration from seeing certain artists’ works in person, such as Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, Gerhardt Richter (ooh la lah), Cy Twombly, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, the list goes on. I frequent galleries and museums when I need a reminder of why I am part of the story of art. I get a strong connection to contemporary artists’ works and gain energy from looking.
I recently did a series of paintings that translate pieces of music that are deeply ingrained in my being. I performed classical music in my late teens as a flutist in the Houston Youth Symphony Orchestra and the University of Houston Youth Orchestra. I loved studying and performing the music (Beethoven, Brahms, etc.), and now I continue to be enriched by listening to composers such as Shostakovich, Debussy, Stravinsky, John Cage, and my recent discovery of Antonio Estevez. I attend concerts at Tanglewood and the BSO and I find that some performances stop me dead in my tracks. Those are the ones I paint.
What is it like showing your work to people and what do you hope people take away from it?
I wish that my paintings remind people of what it means to be human, to have a history, to have memories, to feel love and hate, to have an individual soul, to have hope. I want to share that experience I get when I stare at a Rothko, for example. I hope that my art provides someone the space to feel connected to themselves more fully.
What advice do you have for other artists who may be looking to get their work exhibited?
Feel the fear and do it anyways. You have to get started no matter what. Seek out opportunities that are in line with the work you create and just do it. Don’t stop.
Facebook @number5studios or Shany Porras Art