Thursday, November 05, 2009

Etsy Excavations

Still digging up some artists for you over at Etsy...I hope you're all enjoying this series. I know I am!
Today, we're talking with Candace Squire, wanderer turned artist, currently living in Austin, Texas. Candace paints hauntingly simple and serene landscapes in oils and watercolors. She sells her work at her Etsy shop, shanti shanty.

Tell us a little about your story - how did you get started painting?
i started painting (like most) when i was a very little girl. i like to dream that i've been a painter in former lives, for me this is a good explanation of why i have always found the smell of the art rooms so intoxicating. i was very fortunate to have had an incredible art teacher in high school. he was a professional watercolorist and an inspiration. my life has taken many twists and turns as an adult, and none of them have involved art school, so the instruction i received from him is just that much more valuable to me.

What's the story behind your shop name?

"shanti" is a sanskrit word meaning peace. i am an enthusiastic yogini and i chose this word as a focus for my shop to remind myself of what i am seeking through my art. i believe these small creations, filled with love and color and dreams and wonder, are a piece of my own puzzle to come to a place of peace in my life.

What is your creative process like?
i have a sketchbook that goes everywhere with me. i try to scribble in it at least once a day even if it is only for a few minutes during a fresh air break at work. my watercolors are always set up at the dining room table for easy access. when i have the time to paint with oils, i turn up the music on the record player as loud as i think the neighbors will tolerate, and dance around my workspace palette knife in hand. somehow some of the paint makes it to the canvas. the whole ritual of it, getting my whole body into it, helps me relax and nudge the perfectionist in me to the side.

Where do you get your inspiration?

places i've been, in real life or in dreams. i am always seeking to bring the lands in my dreams to life on canvas. i also have a fascination with trees. i admire their strength and stillness. their quiet lives. i have favorites, best tree friends, that i paint and draw and meditate on often. my family is also a well of inspiration for me in so many ways.

You have oils and watercolors in your Etsy shop - do you prefer one over the other, and if so, why?

i go through phases...the watercolors offer me instant gratification. since my studio space is also the guest bedroom (and also the storage room for all of my partner's music equipment) it requires more preparation to set up the space for my oil paints, so i will paint furiously with oils for several weeks and then put everything up to dry for a couple months and so on. oil paints are very special for me. and there is no substitute.

Have you dabbled in other media?

oh YES! one of my favorite mediums is clay. especially wheel throwing. i love everything about it and hope to soon be able to afford to rent some space in a pottery studio. i also am in the middle of about a hundred craft projects ranging from knit socks to origami lanterns.

I love your painting, Landlines, for its simplicity and quiet energy - which of your own paintings is your favorite, and what do you think it says about you?

hmm...i think right now it is dreamscape: the color palette is just right for me at the moment and it is one that just flowed out of me it seems. i am constantly struggling against my desire for everything i make to be "perfect" and every moment i am creating without that looming over me is a small victory. i paint to free myself.
I like to end the interview with a list of your favorites:

Who is your favorite artist?

there are so many...but at the top is vincent van gogh. my dream is to go to his museum in amsterdam one day. there is a short film by the director akira kurosawa called "crows" in which he meets vincent van gogh in the fields and then proceeds to walk through some of his paintings. i turn it on when i need some inspiration. it's a brilliant film.

What is your favorite thing to listen to while you paint?

always something dreamy and psychedelic. usually cocorosie, os mutantes, portishead, joanna newsom, radiohead...or the classics: the kinks, beatles, queen, david bowie, willie nelson. i have a broad taste in music and always need something energetic. otherwise i tend to just sit back and watch my paintings rather than actually paint them. my partner is a musician, and when he and his guitar keep me company i am happiest.

What is your favorite paint color...the one you seem to grab every time?

i love all shades of blue and green. there is always one of each on my palette.

What is your favorite book and/or author?

if i pick one it has to be poet rainer maria rilke. he's rescued me in some hard times and always inspires me. but also anaïs nin, raymond carver, rumi...


Thanks Candace!