Speaking with Shapes: 10 Questions with Abstract Artist Stephanie Smith

From lawyers to letterpress printers, and jewelry designers to business coaches, every entrepreneur has a story. We love hearing from movers and shakers of all kinds to learn about their particular process, background, struggles, and dreams for the future. Today, we’re sharing abstract artist, Stephanie Smith’s, story about how she finds freedom in her work, gives herself grace in her process, and what she wants her art to speak to others. You might have even already seen some of her beautiful art in our focus of the month post on Tenderness, and on the cover of this month’s Yellow Collective periodical!

How did you start out as an artist?

I have always enjoyed the arts. I grew up dancing. I took dance lessons for 13 years. In middle school & high school, I remember art classes peaking my interest. From there, my love for art really grew and came into its own throughout my college career. I discovered watercolor along the way and fell in love.

How do you show yourself tenderness in the midst of your creative process?

I take breaks. Sometimes I get into the studio and things just click. It is effortless. Other times, it’s work. It takes being patient and being okay with mistakes. I also ask for feedback. There are times when what I think is terrible others actually enjoy or help me think of ways to make it better. Being open to feedback is a huge part of showing myself tenderness and also willing to just say… “Oh that piece just is not good.”

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When do you feel your freest?

I feel my freest when working in my studio, hunched over a canvas, and just letting the paint move and flow as it wishes.

Do you struggle with comparison to other artists? If so, how are you able to move past this?

I used to really struggle with comparison. Occasionally it tries to creep in and rear its ugly head, but I have gotten better at catching myself and evaluating what is going on. A lot of times it happens via social media. So I will quickly, or not so quickly, remove myself for a little bit. At those times I work on myself, read, go on a walk, and get inspired to create. I think we can get stuck in our own heads as creatives, and we forget that the best thing for us is to just go for it and start creating. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does help release some tension.

What do your paintings reveal about your personality?

That I am minimal and intentional. It does not take much to make me happy. I am a pretty minimal person and hate drama. I am also an intentional person by nature. I enjoy deep conversations and I am terrible at small talk.

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Have you had any specific moments of failure in which you struggled with providing yourself grace?

Yes, I feel like I have to provide myself grace daily. I think as a creative and an entrepreneur, it is easy to get down on yourself or think you are not doing enough. I have to remind myself often that no one is perfect and we are all trying our hardest to make much of our lives.

This month you also created a custom piece about Tenderness for our Yellow Collective periodical! Can you share a bit about what you wanted our members to feel from this piece?

The idea behind the drawing is to help bring about a sense of completion. To realize even in the chaos of life, you can and should be gracious with yourself. The idea of perfection is daunting. Be kind to yourself. Every journey is different. Your success is not the same as the person next to you and neither are your failures. Show tenderness to yourself. Be gracious.

The shapes represent the different roles we find ourselves in. These shapes take on a life of their own much like they do in life. The dots represent a being which holds all of those roles of life together. Some of those roles are closer to that being than others. But in the end, they are all being held together by it. The dashed lines going around it all represent life, lineage, and time. Everything and everyone has a spot in time. It’s what we do with that time that determines who we are. This drawing was meant to be added onto and transformed into each person’s own creation.

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Where or how do you rediscover inspiration when you’re feeling creatively dry?

I love to be in nature and to travel. I often travel with a sketchbook and some pens/paints so I can paint during a trip. I am also a photographer, so if I see something inspiring while out I will snap a picture real quick for a reference photo later on.

Do you have any intentions for 2018? If yes, what are they?

I have a few different intentions. I hope to have another solo show, submit to galleries, and learn more about facilitating an art therapy class. I also plan on traveling.

You can find more of Stephanie’s work on her Etsy shop or on Instagram!

Images and Artwork courtesy of Stephanie Smith

Yellow Co.

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