A moment of reflection. We are always curious about the creative process of artists. How did they get to this point? We want to dive into the mind of the creators. The result: ‘Creative Process, a column featuring artists who offer us an insight in their creative process.
Elizabeth Shanahan lives in Lewisville, North Carolina, just outside of Winston Salem, with her husband, their little lion of a daughter, a very vocal malcontent cat, and two vocally content dogs.
Can you share some of your influences with us?
The classical artists who have influenced my work the most include Paul Cezanne, Cy Twombly, and Hokusai, as well as classical eastern ink landscapes. Contemporary artists I love include Emily Jeffords, Brad Kunkle, Henrik Uldalen, Magdalena Morley, and Amy Stone. I’m also regularly inspired by my three year old!
What makes Elizabeht Shanan unique?
A unique fact about me is that I have a side passion for music, and I’ve spent my quarantine reacquainting myself with the piano. I’m bad, but it’s so much fun I don’t care.
Has your workflow changed over time?
I feel more free to explore subject matter. I became interested in mixed media a few years ago, and because of that experimental element I thought I had to stick within a certain subject to provide consistency. Now I realize that consistency happens naturally because I’m the maker! I have my own style and I don’t need to push any harder to show my audience who I am. They already know.
How can we see this when we compare your past and current work?
Between these two collections, I released a figurative collection. Before that, I was exclusively painting abstract landscapes. I was terrified of the reception of this big departure, but my audience loved the new work and they were some of my highest engagement IG posts. The still life collection I’m working on now (shared as the new piece above) is being received even better. I’m not walking away from landscapes, and in fact I’m planning a landscape collection next, but I trust my audience to move with me as I explore new ideas and processes. They are in on the process with me.
What inspires you most?
My number one influence is nature. Being outside in all that hugeness and beauty always makes me itch to get into the studio. But I find inspiration in all things timeless: the world, the people who live in it, the ways they express themselves and relate to each other. Technology and spectacle don’t interest me as subjects. I want to explore how we are the same as previous generations, not how we’re different.
In what extend did you change over time?
I think the trust in myself has been a huge step, though it might not be visible in the pieces to the outside viewer. I can see in color choices, gesture, and subject matter that I’m doing things that before I would have been afraid were “wrong”. Maturing as an artist has helped me realize that every piece and every collection don’t have to be everything to all people, they don’t have to be perfectly balanced or polished. Each piece is more like a sentence than a book. There will be thousands of books before I finish painting, so it’s okay to only worry about one idea at a time, and let it be its own raw, unique, beautiful thing.