Fusion Art is pleased to feature Florida based artist, Shelley Benjamin in its “A Day in the Life” series. In this series of Artist Showcases, the gallery reveals the “typical” day of many of its award-winning artists.
Shelley is a photographer and digital artist who utilizes digital technology as a means for enhancing and transforming original photographs.
Below please find, in Shelley’s own words, the answers to 12 questions about her, her art and her “typical” day as she gives us a glimpse into her artistic life.
How do you start your day?
Coffee! I always start my mornings with fresh coffee. I sit in my bedroom overlooking our backyard view of a small stream and foliage. With my iPad, I play some solitaire to get my brain working, read emails, and work on an image that eventually gets posted to Instagram. Since I like this routine, I get up an hour and half before my exercise classes, which start at 8 AM. After that, a quick shower and I am ready for the day.
How many days a week do your work on your art?
Since I am retired, I can schedule art time whenever I want. I probably work about 5 days a week, usually from 9:30-4:30. But my flexible schedule allows me to also put in art time at various intervals during the day.
Do you have a home studio or do you go to an outside studio to work? Which do you prefer and why?
I work at home. My studio is a work in progress at this time, as half of it has my computer and digital equipment and the other half is filled with a myriad of traditional art supplies. It is a small bedroom with a huge walk-in closet overflowing with art and supplies. Eventually, I will have custom shelves built in to free up some of the space. I used to share the computer (and computer time with my husband) so I am very grateful to have my own space. When I am working, I am very focused and prefer the home studio. It allows me the opportunity to work whenever I wish and also be alone without interruptions.
What kind of art do you create?
I am primarily a digital artist. I use my own photographs and transform them using Photoshop and other software to give my images a painterly look. Most of my work is either landscapes, or flower images. Since I use technology to create the art, I paint with a digital paintbrush and add other elements that would not normally be added to traditional paintings.
Walk us through your “typical” day?
I go to the computer after I have exercised. I find that mornings are good for me. Then I put in several hours working on pieces, usually ignoring anything administrative. I work on images that inspire me from my photo library, or on themed challenges for submission to shows. I might put in 2-3 hours working on several pieces. Because the work is digital, I can save the image, and return to what I was doing. On days that I have set aside for art, I will make a lunch and then get back to work. At this point, I will take care of some of the administrative tasks, or take an online class. After this break, I go back to working on my images.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Balancing my time between creating, and “administration” is one of my biggest challenges. Organization of my photos and the business side of applying to shows and selling work takes time. Additionally I need to go into the field to photograph more images so I have fresh imagery to work from.
I also have been in the process of getting my own website up for several months. This is finally completed, but somehow was one of those items on my to-do list that always dropped to the bottom.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
Art has always been my passion. I remember a college advisor telling me that my eyes lit up when I discussed my art. I like the challenge of creating beauty according to the vision that an image suggests to me. Since I am working with technology, I try to push the image in a way that I wouldn’t with a traditional painting. I really enjoy technology and learning new techniques is always inspiring.
What do you enjoy the least?
Rejection is the most difficult part of creating, whether I show something to someone and their response is lackluster, or I am rejected from a show. Of course, this goes with the territory of putting one’s art out there.
Do you have any mentors?
I was very fortunate to be involved with an international group of digital artists with an amazing inspiring teacher, Sebastian Michaels. And I have a couple of artist friends who I rely on for helpful critique.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I don’t find it lonely, but I am always looking for fellow artists to offer constructive criticism and inspiration. Being a member of several local art groups has provided me with a community to fulfill these needs. In one of these groups, I help to organize museum and art trips, which are not only inspirational, but also a great outlet for socializing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Just do it. I know that sounds like a commercial, but I know I need to work even if I am not inspired. Sometimes I take a tutorial or look at art for inspiration. If I can’t come up with anything, I organize my photos (a never-ending job).
What inspires you?
I am very inspired by nature, light, reflections and creative imagery. I have always been an avid museumgoer. If allowed, I take photos of art that I admire. I use these photos as inspiration for my mobile art and sometime for my painterly images. When I am photographing nature, I am intrigued by flowers, landscapes and architectural images. I also always seem to gravitate to images that have reflections.
Thank you, Shelley, for sharing a peek into your life as an artist!
Below are 8 of Shelley’s award winning pieces. To learn more about Shelley and see more of her work please visit her website.
Fusion Art, LLC
Santa Fe, NM