Today’s interview is with a talented painter/drawer by the name of Shawn Deianni. Her still life paintings are delicate and fairy like, yet still strong as though embedded in stone. My favorites of her works are her landscapes and buildings. Shawn’s usage of pen & ink are bold, confident combined with her delicate watercolor is a nice juxtaposition.

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ep: Could you please describe your creative process?
Shawn:
 I have a long ritual of cleaning my workspace and sorting and arranging my art supplies first. 

For fantasy works the idea is based on an emotion, and I use symbolic images to illustrate the emotion. I also sometimes begin work with a word or phrase that I wish to explore. Sometimes I include the actual words on the page. I usually spend only about a half an hour. I have a short attention span for creating, and if it doesn’t look good after twenty minutes I start over, or call it done. Fantasy work stays in my sketchbook, and I think of a filled sketchbook a piece of art in it’s own right.

For realistic work, I find a scene or a still life that attracts my eye and go right into it with color. I almost never do a preliminary sketch. Sometimes, if it’s a difficult shape or challenges my skills, I will do a pencil sketch first. Good paper and good supplies are very important to me. I spend a lot more time on realistic work, but not too much because I like things to have a sketchy, almost unfinished look.

For collage, it’s all about making use of some scrap I happen to like. I frequently make pictures completely around one scrap. I sometimes use a scrap as a jumping off point, and end up not bothering to include the item that inspired me in the first place! I like texture in collage, transparent papers, muted colors, and exotic foreign packaging. 

ep: What is your favorite piece you created and why is this your favorite piece?
Shawn:
I hate almost all of my work. I have some cityscapes hanging on my wall which I really love and had fun doing. I like the intersecting and organic lines in old tenements and warehouses, the backs of buildings bisected with telephone lines. I like my pastel sunflower.  I like that I was successful in showing the drama that might have been missed if you only saw the plant. 

ep: If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
Shawn:
It’s always the same: draw more. paint more. create more. stop playing so much pacman.

ep: Apart from creating/drawing things, what do you like to do? 
Shawn:
I write short fiction and journal style narratives for fun. I also love to take digital photos of closeups in nature, and my children.

ep: How did you start out in illustration? 
Shawn:
I was working in a bookstore and found myself especially interested in illustrations of all kinds. I also had a strong interest in writing when I was a child. As far as my own art goes, I found images and words strongly intertwined. Illustration seemed like a natural choice.

ep: What inspires you/where do you find your inspirations?  
Shawn:
Moods, and emotions inspire me. If I feel something strongly, I get a desire to express it visually.

ep: What is your favorite book, and why is it your favorite? 
Shawn:
I love to read and can’t say which book is my favorite. I tend to gravitate toward classics, stories of survival, novels with a dreamy touch of fantasy. I also tend to like really dry subjects at times and have read dictionaries and medical manuals for entertainment. I really enjoy children’s books as well.

ep: Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and why is it your favorite? 
Shawn:
“Think once, think twice, think three times then act.” I have no idea who said it first but one of my favorite teachers used to say it all the time. He used it in the context of painting but I find it helpful in all areas of life.

ep: What is your comfort food?
Shawn:
Grilled cheese. homemade refried beans. eggs.

ep: What’s in your freezer right now?
Shawn:
Quite a bit of all natural preservative free bread. It needs to stay frozen so it doesn’t get stale.

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All of the above images are: © Shawn Deianni All Rights Reserved

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