YouTube: Tasting Paint: Expanding Creativity, Portrait of An Artist: Sloat Shaw
My visit to an art studio changed my life. I had a new baby, a three-year-old and plans to be an anthropologist examining the role of women in pre-history. My reference from Margaret Mead was in hand. Art was supposed to be a temporary diversion until I stopped nursing the baby. Instead, I entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and found excitement beyond measure.
I found a new context for my interest in how societies are organized. I began to use the myths of the ancient world, where the land is alive and responding to humanity, to evoke a vibrant earth. With paint, I could explore the world in an entirely new way.
As I child, I read every myth, and that passion led me again and again to the Met in New York where I spent hours looking at ancient art and re-living the great stories of humanity through art. Myths are the language I use to make sense of the world.
Every society on earth rests on mythic skeletons. Even in the western world, our society references these ancient tales. Apollo, an archer God who always hits his target, shares the name of the U.S. space project. The fleet goddess of victory, Nike shares a shoe brand and, the snake entwined rod of Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine, is the symbol for modern medicine.
Myths explore the unknown, what lies just beneath the surface of everyday life. When I paint the earth, I picture rock and earth in my mind in the same manner as I picture bones and muscle lying beneath flesh when I paint portraits. I allow the painting to unfold in layer after layer of paint.
In order to paint the pulsing quality of the earth, I use chi gung and other energetic meditations to make visible an invisible landscape. I enter into a zone, a lucid dream, a space that I find hard to put into words, but once I enter this liminal space, I create without restriction.
Finding this space where I work without inhibition, can be the hardest part of the day. In this time of global pandemic, I am pulled out of this zone more easily. Then I re-group, re-center, and spend whatever time I need, to connect with my creative core where the painting becomes my focal point, and I am once more creating freely.
My goal is to embrace the freedom of looking deep within, to find that place of unspoken but universally shared memories, and to let that journey inward inform the painting with something unexpected.
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