We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaney Watters and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shaney, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Making art creates an opportunity to express strongly held beliefs and for me, that means sharing my love of and the necessary care and conservation of the animal kingdom. I genuinely aspire to paintings that are bright, filled with color & pizzazz, and make people stop to smile. But perhaps even more important is that they stimulate interest in the amazing creatures we share the planet with. And believe that in some small way my paintings do increase thoughtfulness about animals. In my free time, I am lucky to volunteer as a docent at the Los Angeles Zoo and through that process have learned so many great bio-facts, from different diets to mating/parenting habits and from species’ survival adaptations to population numbers remaining. I have also become so much more aware of the important work being done to strengthen, and in some cases bring back different species and subspecies from extinction. Additionally, I am excited to put my money where my mouth is because the sale of my work enables me to donate a percentage to the animal causes I am passionate about.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work conveys an ardent connection with its subjects while also deliberately avoiding detached realism. Animal portraits highlight the importance, beauty, and undeniable human relation to other members of Animalia. My abstracted work endeavors to express untranslatable illustrations of joy. Illuminated iconography inspires the use of metal leaf thereby elevating the subject in each painting. I love to use expressive rather than realistic colors. And mark-making choices play equally with the consequence of those made and those not made. The materials I use include metal leaf, oil paint, graphite, pastel, and resin. Inspiration is drawn from spontaneity and variation found in different combinations of mixed media. It has taken me a long time to feel comfortable identifying as an ‘artist’ and the road has definitely not been easy nor straight. I was raised to choose a more ‘sensible’ career but have always been drawn (back) to creating. At times I have made almost no art but now can’t imagine returning to that dry, dull place ever again. A painter paints and I am most definitely a painter! The most important lesson I have learned aside from just keep painting is the importance of finding your people to help overcome challenges. Whether it be your cheerleaders or fellow artists’ support system, both are necessary to keep moving forward when struggling on your own. I have accomplished membership in the Pasadena Society of Artists and a solo show in a gallery but I am most proud and excited to keep painting and sharing my work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
What a tricky time to answer this question…but in normal times I would definitely go to the zoo, multiple museums (my favorite is the Norton Simon), and Descanso and Huntington Gardens. There would be live performances at the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler, Pasadena Playhouse, A Noise Within, and strolling around Old Pasadena and Atwater. If I were to venture slightly farther out we would hit Laguna and Santa Barbara. I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful and interesting place don’t think it possible to go wrong. As far as food goes it would be a tour of around the world cuisine in small, independent places.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Goodness, there are so many possibilities here but I will start with my husband James. He is and has always been amazingly supportive of my desire to paint and definitely shares my love of animals. I couldn’t do my job as a marriage family therapist and be a painter and volunteer without his help. I would also like to dedicate my shoutout to the amazing employees and volunteers at the LA Zoo. I have learned so much and been able to share my love, knowledge, and excitement with others through great programs in place at the zoo. Finally, sending some love and appreciation to the animals themselves! you never cease to astound and educate me.