Shaina Hardie is an abstract artist residing in Toronto, Ontario. Growing up in the Kawartha Lakes and subsequently moving to the city has had a large impact on her style and chosen subject matter. Her paintings showcase a signature geometric elegance with collections inspired by both the natural and urban landscape. We interviewed Shaina to learn more about her practice, inspirations, and what she is working on today.
1. How does your creative day look like and what inspires you to make art? Has your creative day changed due to Covid-19?
My creative day starts with coffee, my planner, and a notepad. My planner has space to jot down three things I’m grateful for and then a list of three top priorities for the day. I’m typically working on multiple projects so I decide which one or two need to be the focus for the day.
I like to work in batches. I may focus on social media or marketing/sales efforts one day, and another day I may focus on client meetings or commission mockups, and another day strictly for painting. As an artist, I have multiple ideas running through my head so having a pad of paper around is essential for a ‘parking lot’ of notes to tackle when the timing is appropriate. Inspiration hits me all the time. It could be as straightforward as seeing a beautiful sunset, landscape, or waterscape and feeling the desire to re-create these scenes in my own style. Recently, I’ve been really drawn to philosophical thought which I’m exploring first through journaling and hope to recreate visually. Sometimes, I’ll begin painting without intention and simply be inspired by the process. And then there are my clients who’ve commission me. I’ve been pretty lucky to collaborate with individuals who have an idea and let me run with it. Their ideas are all part of the process so they play a huge role in the inspiration behind the piece.
I believe Covid has impacted all of us in ways we won’t truly recognize until we find our new ‘normal.’ Finding energy and inspiration from the community and the energy of others was taken away from us. The ability to visit a gallery in person and make connections in the industry was non-existent for a full year. The main impact has been related to in-person showing and planning for a solo show which has been delayed. Luckily, being a member-artist with Kefi Art Gallery has been very positive. Transitioning to a virtual gallery with a committed owner has definitely given me a boost during uncertain times. Plus, with the advancement of technology and augmented reality starting to boom, the opportunities for artists in a virtual setting are only increasing.
2. Tell us more about your art studio.
My studio is based in my home which is very convenient for when inspiration strikes. My studio also occupies the entire lower level so it’s easy for me to separate work and life. I’m fortunate to have some large windows which allow for a lot of natural light which is important when mixing my palette. I’ve also installed bright, neutral lighting to help mimic natural light and take care of some finicky shadows.
Last year I made some investments in my studio, one being a double, height-adjustable desk. This has allowed me to create a separate office space and workbench on the ‘creative’ of the studio. I am SUCH a fan of height-adjustable desks. I love working on my feet and the extra workspace has allowed me to be more productive. Having a nook for office work is important…an artist's job doesn’t simply end with creation. We’re all business owners at the end of the day and I believe it’s important to have a space dedicated to marketing, financials, and operations.
My studio is my creative space. I like to keep it tidy and organized, and really push myself to do a proper cleanup and organization after a session of creation. There is nothing worse than coming into the studio, ready to create and tackle new projects only to find a mess and having to spend your precious, inspired time cleaning up. Or working around a mess…which never ends well! I’ve decorated my studio strategically. One of my first ‘professional’ paintings is hung on the wall beside my easel. “Sunset Raining” is such a special piece to me. Inspired by the warm, beautiful colours of Hawaii, this piece was the first one I decided to share with my audience and it was the piece that made me fall in love with art again. It reminds me of humble beginnings, places that inspire me, and the colour combination energizes my soul.
3. How did you first get interested in your medium?
I was introduced to both acrylic and oil paint when I was very young. Patience is not my best quality so waiting for oils to dry was just too painful and messy for me (although I’m working on learning to enjoy the process). Acrylic was the natural choice for me. I love working in layers of paint that dry quickly and dry—brushing to create depth. The advancement of acrylic paints has come a long way and I make the investment in high-quality brands know for highly pigmented products that won’t break down over time.
4. Describe your style in one sentence.
A modern mashup of Impressionism and Cubism: layer colours produced in an angular, geometric fashion.
5. Has your style changed over time?
I’ve always gravitated toward a ‘looser’ artistic style and although I enjoy challenging myself with realistic elements, harsh, rough lines and loose layers seem to bring me a lot of peace. There’s something so beautiful about imperfection. While my style has changed, the biggest change took place relatively early in my career as I developed my ‘shatter technique’. In the last six years, my style has remained pretty recognizable, but small tweaks and experimentation have allowed my it to evolve. There is still much to explore with this style and I can’t wait to see how it evolves over the next six years.
6. What are your main artistic tools?
1. iPad Pro to create client mock-ups and bring their commissions to life before starting the painting process (I can’t stress enough how big of a tool this has been in my practice and ensuring we’re on the same page!)
2. Golden Brand acrylic paint and finishing mediums
3. Various—sized flat-head brushes
7. Do you ever experience creativity blocks and how do you stay positive and inspired?
All. The. Time.
How do I stay positive? I walk away and start doing something else that I love: paddleboarding, golfing with my partner, getting out on the water, or grabbing a coffee/cocktail with friends. If one thing is certain, creative blocks are temporary and so is life. There is a whole world of interesting things to occupy our thoughts and time when our creative juices need refilling. Walking away and focusing your attention on the billion other things is the best thing you can do.
8. What artists - either contemporary or from history - have had an impact on you and your art practice?
History: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali. With the first two being cubists, I love the angular multi-perspective aspects of their work. I fell in love with the use of colour in Claude Monet’s impressionist work (the brush strokes and the layering) as well as his obsession with recreating the same scene. Dali, well, I simply love his mind and the evocation of his work.
Contemporary: There are too many to list. Social media has allowed me to follow so many talented artists throughout the world and be inspired by their practice. I love following the work of fellow Kefi Art Gallery members and seeing how our unique style creates a well-rounded curation of pieces for collectors. Ashley Longshore, a contemporary Pop artist based out of New Orleans, is a huge inspiration when it comes to my mindset and believing in myself as a female artist. She’s worked hard to make a name for herself and is well known in the art world. I love her passion, cheeky style, and the fact that she is unapologetic about her prices and success. As artists, we often undervalue our work and the impact it has on peoples’ lives. She is a reminder to all artists that this CAN be a career…and a good one at that!
9. Do you think the art world has changed or will be changing due to the pandemic? If yes, how?
Obviously, more online galleries have popped up as gallery owners looked to reposition themselves during tough times. Many owners and artists learned the importance of social media and targeting clients online. And then there’s the whole working-from-home situation. While some companies have mandated a return to work, many others have considered a hybrid option moving forward, and some have decided to get rid of their offices entirely. This translates to more people working from home and many prioritizing the aesthetic of their home. I’ve had quite a few commission requests for home offices over the past year.
Let’s not forget technology. Most of the world was forced to go virtual. Virtual meetings, events, art shows. We have been able to speak with people across the world daily, visit art shows and see art via virtual shows we may not have seen otherwise. I personally loved participating in and viewing the virtual shows hosted by Kefi. It was such a neat way to be exposed to new artists and their artwork.
There is a lot of exciting technologies coming down the pipeline toward everyday life. Augmented Reality being one of them. Soon, we’ll all have the ability to use AR to ‘place’ and view artwork on our bare walls prior to purchasing. It will enhance the purchase process greatly. With challenging times comes change – you have to keep evolving!
10. What project are you working on right now? What would you like to do next?
I have a few commissions in the works with the majority of them being second and third-time collectors. Each piece will be very different with elements of realism in one of them, minimalist abstraction in another, and pop-art abstraction in another. The variety keeps me challenged and I absolutely love working with clients to create meaningful pieces.
As I type this, I’m. On a flight to Vancouver, Canada so you can bet there will be some west coast-inspired works coming down the pipeline. As the world returns to normal, I am planning to host a solo exhibition in 2022. While the theme is TBD, I plan to include a variety of works that will be attractive to both new and seasoned collectors.