Usually, art is a visual experience that happens outside of the process. The artist working alone, the journey from idea to canvas experienced in finality by the viewer who brings her own sensibilities to the finished work. Shelley Levy, known professionally as Shelley the Artist (www.shelleytheartist.com) made a decision to work more collaboratively inviting workshops of women to join her on the journey of creating art and discovery.
On March 31, 2019, Shelley the Artist will be bringing her Watercolor Workshop, Go From I Can’t To I Can to the women of Fiftiness. In our own collaboration of using words and watercolor, with a glass or two of wine, we will find our paths to fearless living after fifty!
Shelley is an artist from London living in LA. She has created murals for LAX, Trader Joe’s, Sony Pictures and Culver City along with many other projects. She has been featured in the L.A. Times and been on the TV show Clean House. A recent solo exhibition in London’s Chelsea neighborhood sold out. We met at a DIY Human Conversation on a random night in Santa Monica, California and immediately dove into a deep conversation of women in midlife. Of course, when I went home, I googled her!
I found her work vibrant and full of life. There is a musicality to the scenes she paints, a depth to the rhythm and movement of each character in her street scenes. They are happy paintings that make me smile and yet, they are bold in choice of color and in the expressions of each scene. Her work begs the viewer to wonder what’s just under the surface. it’s that piece, what exists just under the surface in art and in life, that propelled us to work together in offering mindful workshops in words and watercolors.
I wanted to make sure everyone got a little taste of Shelley and her intoxicating energy. We reconvened at a coffee shop in West Hollywood to parse out the workshop and to talk all things, Shelley.
Shelley is a working artist. Her most recent commission in progress will be for the Farmers Market where Shelley will create the artwork for the Market’s new poster.
When not painting, Shelley finds artistic expression in assisting with creative and delicious food styling for large and intimate gatherings with the fabulous This Messy Table (www.themessytable.com)
Shelley is also working on an illustrated young adult novel, featuring Alfie the Prince of London, a loveable mutt and his wild escapades. She teaches art to children and adults, one on one or in a group setting.
Shelley began her artistic life in oil painting. After living in the United States, she temporarily returned to London where she did a lot of urban sketching. Taking those urban scenes back to her studio, she found that she couldn’t create the immediate vibrant narrative in oil. Watercolor is so immediate. She was able to capture the moment with all its dynamic energy.
Shelley wanted to work with women capturing that same dynamic current of energy with women of all ages, and in particular, with women in midlife. As she said, “women are in a paradigm shift, blossoming. It’s our time to be fierce in a really nurturing way, to collectively bring together our ideas into the world.”
Facilitating that shift in which women find their voices through art was a natural progression from teaching children. Children are fearless in their expression of feelings and art. Shelley wanted to bring that same abandonment to women of a certain age.
Using art to effectuate change, Shelley helps women get past that moment when you say I can’t draw a straight line to saying, I don’t care! In the moment where you let go of preconceived notions of what a straight line (for example) must look like is when art happens. When you are in the process of creating art, your brain shifts from left to right. “Our anxieties, our terrors, our lists all the things we can’t do disappear. We become one with the art.”
Most of us don’t question that art is essential for children. Shelley believes it is equally as essential for all of us to find a way to create art- cooking, music poetry. Essential for our wellbeing. In the moment of creating we discover a form of meditation.
The idea for this workshop came out of one of my quirky question. “What do you think the negative voice in my head would look like,” I asked Shelley. “Would she look like me, or some evil version of me?”
For Shelley, that question was an invitation to create like an artist and teacher. She wondered if we could explore the negative voice with some short-directed writing prompts then turn to the canvas to give that voice a wholistic make-over. A way to re-envision the negative into a positive and empowering force in our thoughts, a roadmap to go from I Can’t To I Can!
I talk a lot about the meaning of fearlessness after fifty. The idea isn’t to be reckless but rather to face that which holds us back in all the different avenues of our life.
Art is a flexible medium that helps us envision the roadblocks along the journey to living our best life in midlife. I so welcomed Shelley’s insight into how art frees us to create the space in which we can rehab the negative forces in our own psyche. Letting ourselves go, whether in words or in watercolors or both to see ourselves as we truly are and truly could be. It’s an artful way to mindfulness and to well-being! A mediation in art. A splash of color and canvas in our quest to aging intentionally!
The workshop will be held on March 31 in West Los Angeles. Check out our events page for more details here