I’m Shane and welcome to my site. I’m a fine artist, designer, and writer, as well as a squirrel enthusiast, a certified yoga teacher, and a dog lover. I was raised in Northern Kentucky and currently live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Thomas More University. After graduation, I was a freelance illustrator for paper role-playing games, working on such titles as Shadowrun and Vampire the Masquerade. After six years, I burnt out on art almost completely and over the next 10 years had a rather varied career path. I sold clothes at Banana Republic for the better part of a year; then moved to an ad agency where I worked as a graphic designer on car ads; then, in a roundabout return to art, I worked at a local art gallery; from there, I wrote copy for a toy e-tailer; and after that, I taught yoga up until my first surgery.
During my final year of college, I had bouts of digestive issues. Five years later, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel disease wherein the immune system attacks the large intestine until it is entirely inflamed and peppered with ulcers. It is every bit as fun as it sounds. After suffering from UC for fifteen years, my entire large intestine had to be removed. During the surgery, a mass was found that came back cancerous, and not only that, but this malicious little ball of cells had eaten through all four walls of my intestine and was working its way into my lymphatic system. I learned later this would have been very bad. Over eighty ”infected” lymph nodes were removed, which so far has proven to be effective. Seven years later, I’m still cancer-free. I’ve had two additional bowel surgeries since then.
Getting into Writing
I have always enjoyed writing. During my time as a yoga teacher, I also taught religion and philosophy, largely pertaining to Buddhism. I wrote literature for talks given during teaching training and for an online group dedicated to Zen. I have always enjoyed poetry, especially Japanese short poems, which were the preferred format for Zen masters such as Basho and Ryokan, two of my favorite poets. I also read a great deal of Rumi’s poetry and the work of some modern-day poets. Inspired by this, I have written poems of my own for what is now over fifteen years.
Back to Art
On the other hand, art has been a bit trickier to get back into. With many false starts over the years, art in the sense of an active, regular, and deliberate body of work did not happen. There were a handful of graphic pencil and micron pen drawings, some acrylic and watercolor paintings here and there, but all done entirely for fun or for friends and family as gifts. However, want I did produce during this time were Sumi-ink brush paintings. These were almost entirely created as a form of meditation, vis-a-vie my Zen background, but again they were done sporadically over the years and never to challenge myself personally or artistically.
I limited myself to a Zorn palette (red, yellow, black, white) and did little planning: I simply sat down and painted. This led to what I have dubbed the Foundation Abstract Series. One of the pieces I painted in this series ended up being entirely done in black paint, (Untitled Black #1). I loved the way the paint caught the light and how the piece transformed throughout the day with the amount of sunlight cast upon it. I told myself that a painting consisting of “just” black couldn’t be a true painting. So, I moved on. About this time, I stumbled upon a video about the cave paintings of early humans done on limestone walls thousands of years ago. I was enthralled with the notion of our original palette of colors - red oxide, yellow ochre, bone black, and white. This resulted in a series of paintings I call the Chauvet Series, named after the cave in France with dozens of well-preserved prehistoric paintings.
Back to the Roots
Another ongoing theme is found in my Ash and Root Series. For several years, my fiancée and I had a small herb garden. I would clean, dry, and save the roots of harvested annuals like tulsi or perennials such as a cold-killed elderberry bush. I also was curious to make pigments at home. This led to burning a flame under a stainless steel pot to collect carbon in the form of soot, and to the use of wood ash to mute saturated colors and add texture to a painting. I also collected black walnuts and boiled them down to make walnut ink.
The roots, in particular, are interesting as a sculptural element. They are dead, but they were once a vital part of a living organism. They are what fastened a plant or tree into the earth. A root is old, in the sense of the millions of years that plants have employed them for survival. To place it on a canvas or board painted with acrylics, a medium new to the art world and made by binding pigments with a plastic glue (polymer emulsion), is a fascinating juxtaposition and I think acts as a weird miniature of the current relationship between humankind and nature.
Paper. When You Got Nothing Else
... and now the time hath come,
for we have looked into the void,
and the void has taken me.