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Shelly Porter | Watercolorist

Watercolor artist Shelly Porter has been interested in art and drawing since childhood, and intended to study art in college. Instead, she says, “I majored in Interior Design thinking I would be able to create and be able to support myself in a more sustainable manner. It wasn’t long after graduating that I realized I did very little creating and more selling and PR and just did not like what I was doing”. When she was only thirty-one, Shelly discovered she had cancer, and it changed her entire outlook and focus on her life. “At that juncture, I began painting almost full time and began exhibiting and selling my work.”

Shelly went on to obtain a degree in Interior Design from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. She has taken many art classes and art history classes in both of her undergraduate studies, as well as having many hours of studio art in the early 1990s.

In the beginning of her career as an artist, the first subjects of her art were “objective images of Guatemalan influence and Christian religious symbolism”. “Since 2007 I have been painting non-objective symbolism with an emphasis on color and form.”

Shelly’s motivation for painting, she explains, is “the spiritual connection that I have with a higher power of God, if you will, and the gratitude that I have for my life and its endless abundance of blessings. As well as the ability to tap into that spark that I feel resides inside myself and put the intangible beauty of it onto paper”. Her ultimate goal is to use watercolor and paper as a medium, to use color and simplistic form to evoke emotions and, quoting Wassily Kandinsky, a “vibration of the soul” within the viewers of her work. “I do not purposefully attempt to elicit a reaction from the audience, but feel that there will always be some sort of subconscious connection with just the right person and just the right piece of work.”

Museums and galleries of any kind, art books and contemplation are her favorite places of inspiration. “Specifically at the moment, I admire the philosophy and intent of Wassily Kandinsky and the use of shape and color by Gustav Klimt.” Shelly also adds that there are many other artists, both traditional and contemporary that she likes and admires.

An art collector herself, Shelly’s collection consists of several pieces from both local artists, and from artists she and her husband have discovered in galleries during their travels. “I also like to collect ethnic art, particularly from Mexico or Indonesia.” It is a primary concern of hers that art be affordable, “due to the fact that I, myself, can only afford reasonably priced art and feel the majority of collectors are in the same predicament”. Shelly believes you should be able to surround yourself with art that speaks to you and about you, “without going into debt”.

Shelly’s favorite thing about being an artist is “connecting with, savoring, and celebrating life and expressing it for others to enjoy”. If being an artist wasn’t an option for her, she says she’d most likely be a landscape architect. Her life philosophy is a quote from Hui-neng: “Look within! The secret is inside you”.

written by Jennifer Shaver

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