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Shawn Marie Hardy

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating?
I've been creating since I was a kid but I found it very difficult to be happy with my creations back then. They never turned out how I visualized them in my mind, so I didn't consider myself a "real" artist until the early 1990's after I went to art school. I recently found some artwork that I did between the ages of five and ten years old and now I wish I could draw and paint like I did then. Its funny how that works.
What, besides your art, brings you creative fulfillment?
Music, because I can't really create anything else without it. I love to make up songs on my guitar and keyboard. Those songs rarely go anywhere besides my own head - sometimes onto a little tape recorder. During one of my most prolific creative spurts in 1998 and into 2000, I was in a band in New Zealand called Dating Godot. Playing live gigs was a huge creative release for me, and also inspired me to paint. I don't know how I did it all with a baby in tow but I did. I did the band thing again last September, just long enough to do two shows with musician Richard Davies, and it was great fun but totally draining. Another thing that brings me a lot of joy is teaching art classes to kids. My daughter is going into fifth grade, and I've had the pleasure of being a volunteer art teacher in all her classes. I recently taught her fourth grade class how to write limericks. We've done everything from folding and flying paper airplanes to creating tactile boxes. In one of my favorite classes the kids had to invent ice-cream flavors with a twist, then illustrate their ideas. They came up with great new flavors like "peanut butter and toe jam swirl," "hairball berry blast," and "mint chocolate rat dropping delight." Not for the faint of heart. I also write poetry and children's stories and I've been known to whip up some pretty wicked delights in the kitchen.
What are your motivations for creating?
There are various things in the world that inspire my creativity - my daughter, nature, music, life issues, the work of other artists. But I have serious motivational issues lately, and while creative ideas are constantly racing through my head, it is hard to find the time and energy to actually carry them out. I go through big spurts of on-again/off-again creativity as I always have, and its usually an issue of time - I am currently working two jobs and being single mom, so at the end of the day it seems easier to turn on the t.v. and stare at a repeat of Friends or Seinfeld than it does to go to the drawing table and release the creative juices. However, I find myself drawing toward another on-again period, and once I'm there I can stay revved up for quite awhile. I've been know to go full-on for two years straight, then stop for just as long. Deadlines seem to push me. The last painting I started was in May of 2007 and I just finished it, after putting it away for over a year. I only finished because I had to get it ready for a show. So there you go - give me a reason and I can come up with something in a snap. But left on my own, I tend to get a bit stagnant.
How do you know when a piece you have been working on is done?
I don't. There just always seems to come a time when I have to stop and be done with it. I have overworked many pieces in my lifetime because I don't know when to stop. I think there is a little mechanism in my brain that says, "it might be a good idea if you put this away now." I just wish it would kick in before my work clutters up - I have been trying so hard to simplify and be a bit more of a minimalist. But then again, if my paintings represent the goings-on in my brain, I guess the clutter is spot on.
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
Deconstructed and reconstructed clothing. I do a lot of thrift store and estate sale shopping, and along my travels I come across some pretty interesting vintage clothing. I've been stockpiling and have drawers full of old aprons, hand-crocheted lace, bark cloth table cloths, and a ton of other goodies. I went to New Zealand last winter and came back with two suitcases full of that kind of stuff and since thenI have been ripping clothes to bits and pinning them back together - mixing things up a bit, adding bits and pieces of lace, trim, extra pockets, collage, etc. I'm working on a strange little Woody Woodpecker skirt right now that started with a pair of pajama bottoms, but it's a long way from finished. I just love clothing but I am really feeling disgusted with how wasteful our society is. We have enough clothing to last a lifetime in this country and the idea of recycled clothing really excites me. I think the idea of recreating existing clothing gives the artist a chance to explore a whole new creative outlet, and to fashion one-of-a-kind wearable art. I'm also making necklaces with miniature detail images of my paintings on wood, combined with vintage jewelry finds, lace, organza ribbon, charms, and whatever else I can work into the mix. It's a way to feel like I'm accomplishing something when I'm not able to paint.
What brought you to EBSQ?
Well, this is odd. I'm sitting here wracking my brain and I can't remember how I first even heard of EBSQ. All I can remember is that I suddenly belonged to an awesome online art community with a lot of other talented artists from around the world. Uh oh. I hear the Twilight Zone theme twinkling in the background. Maybe that night I thought I was dreaming of being lifted out of my bed and up into the bright lights of an alien spacecraft has something to do with it. Seriously though, I'm slightly embarrassed by my lack of an answer on this one, but the reason I would have joined would have been because I thought EBSQ was the best suited place for me to be - and it is. I just checked and I've been a member of EBSQ for just over four years. My grandmother warned me about this sort of lapse in memory...
What are some of your artistic goals for the future?
My number one goal is to find just the right venue to auction off an altered book that has been in the works for over a year now, and is the heart of Our Children: Honor with Art, a project I started on behalf of missing and exploited kids. It is the collaborative effort of over a hundred artists from around the world who have sent work in to be included in the book, and once auctioned, it will provide donations for some of the charities who advocate for the cause, like The Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation, and KlaasKids Foundation. Another goal is to set up a work routine so I am actually creating so many hours per week. I have found that I work much better with a set schedule.
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
I live with an unusual phobia. I'm afraid to go up hills, so sometimes just leaving my home and walking up the little inclined path to my car is a real challenge. I even have a problem driving uphill (and sometimes going downhill as well), which I found out last year when I drove to the top of Mt. Hood. I had a serious panic attack at the top and had to have a friend on the other end of the cell phone until I made it down to the bottom. I was diagnosed with agoraphobia, but I have never been house-bound. I make myself take challenges. If I didn't, I think I would be a real basket case. Ultimately, I'm sure it all reflects somehow in my work but I couldn't begin to explain it.

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