What is your process like to create a work from start to finish? Feel free to talk about materials here too. How long does one piece usually take and do you work on more than one at a time?
I tend to start out by taking a lot of reference photos of the subject that I want to paint. Then I move to a pencil sketch (with lots of erasing)! When I am checking proportions, I tend to take a photo of the drawing and crop it to the same size as the reference photo and then flip back and forth between the two. This allows me to spot errors in the proportions. Once I think that I have finished the drawing, I always leave it alone for a day and come back to it to make final corrections before I start to paint. It’s like that dress that you wanted to buy in a store – it’s always easier to have perspective on what you truly need when you look at things with a fresh eye!
For the painting, I often do landscapes on cold press watercolor paper, and more detailed paintings or portraits on hot press paper. When I am painting horses or dogs, I first do an underpainting of ultramarine blue and van dyke brown to set the values. Then I layer color on top.
While portraits tend to take eight or more hours, I find that lately I have been spending more time on detailed city scapes that require a little bit more ruler work.
I prefer to work on multiple pieces at a time and switch between them to prevent myself from getting bored, but when I have a commission, that takes priority.
Are you working on any upcoming projects, collaborations or exhibitions?
I am currently preparing for an exhibition at the coworking space The Thinking Hut in Amsterdam. The theme of the exhibition is Holland and I am painting everything from the canals of Amsterdam to modern – and humorous – takes on the cultural trademarks of Holland (Delft pottery, cows, stroopwafel). I also have a few commissions in the works, which are all dog portraits.
What are your goals in the coming year? 5 years?
In the next five years, I would like to eventually find representation with the right gallery, as well as with an illustration agency. It would be great to do illustrations for luxury brands or editorial work. I would also like to write and illustrate a children’s book, but I think that is more on the five-year horizon.
For more of Shayna's work, you can visit her website or follow her on Instagram here.