Shanny Schmidt: For those who do not know me or of my work, I am a self-taught artist and started painting about 5 years ago. I started painting as a way to relieve some of the stress and issues I was dealing with at the time. I needed a creative outlet, so I went to my local art store and purchased my first set of acrylic paints and a canvas. That first painting was beyond cathartic and spurred my creative side and I have been painting ever since.
Times of Youth: How would you describe your work to someone who has never known about it?
Shanny Schmidt: Before getting into art, I still had creative occupations. I studied opera throughout high school and performed as a singer throughout my twenties. Then in my late twenties and up till now, I am a private chef. Which is creative in many ways as well.
My style of art is varied much like my personality. I primarily love to paint portraits in all forms: people and animals. Pet portraits are how I earn my living, but painting highly stylized female subjects is one of my favorite subjects. I do a lot of reading, and study Buddhism, I often write down things I have read and insert them into my paintings. I draw a lot of my inspiration from my spirituality, and also from current events. Often in my paintings, the two find a connection. My animal and female portraits tend to be very bold in color and are strong characters. Most artists will tell you that the eyes are the most important because they are the windows to the soul. I agree that the eyes are very important, however to me, the mouth is the most important. Most often when you are looking at someone or speaking, you look at their mouth. So, I spend a lot of time perfecting the lips in my portraits.
Times of Youth: At what age did you start doing all this work? Has your family always been supportive of this choice of career?
Shanny Schmidt: To me, my greatest strength is also what annoys me with regards to my work. Since I am still developing and constantly learning, my artwork is so varied. Most artists are very recognizable as they usually focus on one thing or another. I focus on one thing for a couple months and then I change my style completely. I am learning to live with this and not beat myself up over it.
I am very lucky to have a family and partner who are 100% supportive of my art career. My partner is my #1 fan and is always understanding when I spend hours in my studio. She lets my spirit fly free and gives me plenty of space to grow, which is not always the case for some people in relationships.
Shanny Schmidt: If I had a second career, I would be a gardener or a landscaper. It is seasonal where I live, in Northern Michigan. We have hard winters, but the beautiful spring and summer make up for it. I live for spring and working in my gardens. I always say I am happiest in the dirt.
Times of Youth: Do tell us how your experience has been in your current field so far.
Shanny Schmidt: So far my experiences in the art world have been positive. This past year I was granted a free one year artist in residency opportunity which has been lovely. I live in a small town which is progressive in many ways, but not artistically. Traverse City, Michigan, is a tourist town and the art is directed mainly at them. If anything is outside the box or to avant-garde, it is nearly impossible to find a shop or gallery here to represent you. I am hoping this will change and I hope to be a part of the change.
Times of Youth: On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate yourself as an artist, honestly?
Shanny Schmidt: I honestly would rate myself a 9 in passion and drive to becoming better at my craft. Ability…I would rate myself a 4. I humble myself every day when I look at all the talented artists around me. The great artists weren’t born great, they were great because they practiced.
I would say to anyone who is artistic, or an artist- one of the greatest struggles when you do what you love and try to earn a living at it is that struggle of trying to stay true to yourself. When your painting something and that little critical eye comes in and looks at your piece and tweaks or changes something because it is more “sellable”, this is the struggle. I struggle with this every day. Don’t bend to please others, just create what you love. In the end, you will feel un-compromised and the right buyer exists for everything.
Times of Youth: Where do you see yourself in next 5 years?
Shanny Schmidt: I try to focus on the now, but if I had to answer this, I hope to have made an impact on my community in a positive way within 5 years, perhaps help other artists, and of course being able to have my art pay a larger percentage of my bills would always be a plus.
Times of Youth: Do tell us how fans & followers can contact you to share their appreciation/feedback/suggestions.
Shanny Schmidt: Anyone interested in seeing more of my work can “like” me on Facebook at http:// shannyschmidtfineart.facebook my website is: www.artandcreate.com