Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Meet oil painter Shannon Grissom

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February 2010's featured artist was accomplished painter, children's book author and musician, Shannon Grissom. She believes in painting in a large format with bright colors to accomplish the mission of "Give your walls some soul!"

Why do you paint?

I must. It's a primal drive for me. I feel the same way about music. There is so much inside that needs to come out. It's like being really excited about something and wanting to share it with everyone.

How do you decide what to paint?

It simply must make me feel good. I have several paintings going at once in the studio and I choose the one that speaks to me each morning. When I don't listen, I usually make a mess of things.

How did you get started?

As a child, music was a part of my daily life but not art. Oh I painted a little but in high school but never took an official art class. As a teenager, I'd climb up in our loft and disappear for hours. However, once I entered college, I stopped creating and didn't do anything officially creative again until I was 32.

( I chose a practical major, transportation/business and ended up dropping out as a senior. Sometimes the most logical choices are not the best choices! )

I took my first painting class at 32 and knew right then I was supposed to be an artist. I'd get up every day at 3am and paint before work. (After work was too stressful.)
Finally, after 5 years of doing this, I was able to leave my day job and become a full time artist.

How did you get interested in painting "rodeo life"?

I've always loved cows. They are a wonderful combination of sweetness and the formidable.

Once I moved to Hollister, western art was a natural progression. Rodeo is such a big part of life here. (I am not a cowgirl. I'm a suburb girl, but I so respect their way of life.)

Our San Benito County Saddle Horse Association has been kind enough to grant me access to some choice spots during the Rodeo in order to get great action photos. My favorite spot was the bull chutes. It was very exciting back there!

What is your technique?

I paint in oil on canvas. I build and sculpt the art through many layers of glazing and scumbling.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From happy people, nature, reflective surfaces, vibrant color, music, and other creative people.

Where did you learn your technique?

I learned color seeing through my long time mentor/teacher Michael Linstrom and artist friend Janet Vanerhoof but I developed the layering on my own. I learned so much from them both but I really do not paint like anybody.

How long does it take you to get the average painting?

About a month, since I'm working on more than one at a time. Having that many in progress keeps up my productivity. I'm always in the mood for one of them.

Do you ever have work you don't like?

I'm laughing... I sure do. Sometimes I paint over them and sometimes they go in the John Smith collection. (Our local landfill.)

What advice do you have for aspiring painters?

I think it was Julia Cameron who said it best.."Dreams don't die, people do." It's so important to make time to go for it. Don't let life get in they way. My creative time is sacred.

What would you like to do more of in the future?

More cows, rodeo action scenes and some plein-air pastoral landscapes. And I LOVE commissioned work. They take me places I might not visit.

What else do you do besides your art?

For work? Lots!

I produce and host an instructional television series called "Give Your Walls Some Soul". (Think Bob Ross meets Emeril) It's in about 10 million cable households across the country.

I'm also in pre-production for a new television show where I find people who don't realize they are creative and teach them to go for it!

I write and sing my own music. I'm working on a CD and expect to complete it this year.

I'm working on a new novel, inspired by my own paintings.

And a few years back I wrote a picture book, Monkey Made of Sockies. The main character has now been licensed in to a line of golf club headcovers that are sold globally. We are giving a percentage of the profits to help kids with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

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