Tell us about the unique relationship between color and texture that comes alive in your paintings. What sort of feelings or themes become instilled in the process?
I always gravitate toward impasto painting, so for me, the colors that I choose for a piece do come alive when they are applied to the canvas in thick, heavy oil paint. Especially for the Dripping Dots, the relationship between color and texture begins to tell a story and offer emotions when the colors mix and collide. The theme of travel becomes instilled in the process because I want the piece to evoke an emotion of being away to different parts of the world. The colors are a reflection of how I feel, and the moment that the thick oil paints are chosen, and applied in heavy impasto onto the canvas, I am moved and want to translate this in the painting – what it feels like to be away just by looking at the colors and how they interact with each other. Places like Cannes, Saint Tropez, Paris, Portofino, St. Barts, or Geneva, to name a few.
You’ve found an inventive way to create by reusing leftover paint on your brushes, how exactly did the technique come to fruition? Was it over a moment of realization? Or over trial and error?
Because I love to use a lot of oil paint, I used to squeeze a lot of oils onto my pallet. But, because I was learning the traditional impressionistic technique at the Art Students League, I was taught to always clean my pallet after a session of painting. So, after painting in my studio I wanted to keep what I was learning and follow the rules. This led me to want to use the leftover oil paints that I would squeeze out, and not waste them. I would grab a new canvas and start to clean my brushes in circular motions with the leftover paint. I began using colors that I loved and it became a freeing moment for me naturally because I wanted to clean, but then I was also discovering something new.
I began connecting the dots with linseed oils and this motif was created. I liked it a lot, but set it aside and didn’t think anything of it. After cleaning my brushes throughout the coming months, I started a collection of “Dripping Dots” paintings, all lined on my studio wall. A friend came to visit me and pointed the pieces out, he loved them. I realized that this contemporary style was being well received, and over the next decade I would start to create pieces with more intention, more oil paints, mixed media like gold and silver leaf, and even broken pieces of glass – the glass also recycled from windows that would break accidentally, that I gathered and saved over time.
To what extent did you experiment before landing on the abstract and impressionistic aesthetic you hone today? How long did it take for you to master this individual style?
I started to experiment with oil paint when I was 18. I was mostly self-taught and just enjoyed the process of painting and abstractly expressing myself. I used exuberant colors, and expressed myself freely without any formal training and direction. Although I loved to paint with bright colors, the essence of my message and what I wanted to send to my audience was not clear. I traveled and studied for some time, but didn’t unravel my individual style until I began studying at the Art Students League when I was 22. Over several years, I learned the impressionistic technique; the lineage of the great masters of impressionism like Renoir, Manet, and Degas. During this time is when my voice became clear in the aesthetic that I present today. It has been a journey of shaping my style and bridging what I learned in school with the love for expressionism that I have. I think it wasn’t until about 2018, some decade after starting school, that I felt it took me to master this style. But I do believe, I am always learning and evolving, so I hope to keep refining this style and keep it true to who I am as times change, and new influences come into my life.
Coming from a lineage of artists, can you tell us in what ways your family’s artistry inspired your creative dialogue? Were there any specific works that made a considerable impression on you?
I always felt a connection to painting because of my family. Our house was filled with art – that either my mother was creating, my grandfather (who lived with us for some years), or my brother drawing in his sketchbook. For me though, I was not so actively drawing and painting, I always thought “Oh, the genes didn’t reach me!” But I observed and did try to draw alongside my brother from time to time. My basement was filled with incredible modern paintings done by my grandfather that I would look at and become inspired by all the time. Because my grandfather was known mostly for his realistic steamboat paintings or incredible landscapes with the most breathtaking details, it was dreamy for me to discover these modern paintings and connect with me more. When I began to actively paint, I know for sure, these modern pieces by my grandfather were a huge inspiration to me, because I love bright colors and expressing myself freely, similar to how these paintings feel.
As you experiment with new techniques, what novel concepts do you want the viewer to see in a diverse way?
I love to bridge abstraction with the techniques I learned in school, so much of my experimentation stems from this. But most of all, I feel a sense of excitement and joy in my discoveries – for example when I started using gold and silver leaf, these textures brought a new life to my work, and I felt these experimentations solidified a whole new look to my style. When the paint and new textures shine brightly and elegantly together, I feel a sense of luxury that I want to communicate with the viewer as well. And although I have a few different collections, I want each piece from these collections to connect to the viewer in an exultant, luxurious way.
In your career, what moment or moments have you witnessed significant artistic development? Were they particularly challenging?
Right after I finished school, I began creating pieces that had meaning for me with the tools I learned at the Art Students League. At the time, I was drawn to city street scenes of quintessential New York and old Hollywood glamor. It was a great next step for me because now I understood how to mix the paint and begin a piece with the concept of placement and “building” a painting. It was challenging in that it was something new for me, but at the same time exciting, because this is the time I began selling my work seriously, and now it would be a whole new chapter of challenges on how to build my brand as an artist.
Your work is beautifully illustrative in its metaphysically colorful ways. Tell us if your painting style reflect any of your own perspectives on life itself.
Since I was young, I had a very outspoken personality and expressed myself with my emotions on my sleeve. I love to dance, sing and be free and I was always a dreamer. As I got older and sets of challenges presented themselves to me, I learned to be more refined and controlled, but at the same time always had the dreamer part of me be a big part of my perspectives on life. I think this has a lot to do with my painting style today, although I love to use bold bright choices of colors mixed with free abstraction, I’ve learned to control these elements and create pieces with a more refined hand.
When exploring the endless possibilities of color, at what point in the blending process do you find yourself satisfied and move on to the next aspect of the painting?
I find myself moving on to the next aspect of the painting when I feel the right colors and composition have been achieved. When the piece is complete, I usually tweak any parts that don’t feel like they have enough “oomph” – like adding certain highlights with thick marks or dashes of paint thrown onto the canvas.
All images with courtesy of Cindy Shaoul