CTVAC Instructor Profile: Eloise Shelton-Mayo
CTVAC Instructor Profile: Eloise Shelton-Mayo
What is your favorite art medium and why?
My favorite medium is whatever I'm doing at the time, which could be oil & cold wax, encaustic, mixed-media, gelli-printing and collage. If I have to pick one then I'll pick oil & cold wax because it has so many possibilities for working with other mediums.
What is something most people don’t know about oil & cold wax?
Many people think that oil & cold wax is the same as encaustic, but they are very different. Oil & cold wax is oil painting basically with a higher percentage of a mixing medium that makes it dry faster, a bit thicker and able to apply in many ways including wedges in place of brushes (though a brush can be used if desired). Encaustic has tree-resin with it's pigment and bees wax and must be heated to apply with a brush as well as heated with a blow torch or heat gun to meld layers to each other. The finish of oil & cold wax is more matte and it can NOT be heated because again, it's oil paint with a solvent in it and that would be toxic. That means, you can put oil & cold wax over encaustic, but NEVER the other way because heating it would be incredibly unsafe releasing the solvent particles into the air.
People may not realize that oil & cold wax does not need any kind of finish put on it in the end, and that the paper can be framed under glass so long as the paper is a reasonable distance from the glass.
Why do you like teaching art and why is it important?
I teach design fundamentals at Tidewater Community College's Visual Arts Center in Portsmouth, Virginia as well as many workshops in the area. It's been a gift to be able to teach students at the beginning of their art/design studies, established artists and people in the community who are creative and are finally getting the chance to take classes and enjoy the process of art exploration. Art and design take up a lot of real estate in my head and heart, but I was not always an artist by title certainly. I majored in English in college and eventually worked at a newspaper, The Raleigh News & Observer where as a typesetter and then Ad Designer, I began to get a sense of layout, fonts, negative/positive space and working with the latest MAC programs. Relocating to Virginia and my child entering school afforded me the chance to upgrade my graphic design skills where I also needed drawing. This was my gateway into the artist I always was but didn't know it. I tell you this because as an instructor, I understand the excitement and fear that is often there when learning new skills or understanding process concepts in a different way. It is very gratifying if a student understands that not only can they succeed in their own art path, but they feel that it is valuable to them. It often opens up a new world of what ifs for them and helps clarify in time what type of artist or designer they would like to be.
The aim in workshops is that you learn concrete process, materials and ideas within the medium. It's rewarding to witness students' joy as they traverse this artistic landscape in these classes & workshops. I'm also learning from them and want to keep open to those experiences of how they approach the medium and the process.
What is the best interaction you’ve encountered with a student?
The best interaction I've had with a student cannot be a single encounter, so I'll mention a few. I've had students in community college fall in love with painting and fine arts because of the design class when they thought they were most interested in computer graphics. The most gratifying experiences in workshops is hearing from students that my workshop was the best they've taken and they want to take more. I've had students who are going through some incredibly difficult situations such as the recent death of a loved one and tell me that engaging in artwork introduced in a class or workshop was therapeutic to them. I believe in the healing power of the creative process, so this is especially powerful and another reason I love teaching.
What is your favorite exhibition at The Charles Taylor Visual Arts Center?
The Virginia Artists Exhibition is exciting as it is selective to get into and shows such quality work. Last year, I wrote some names down of people I wanted to research that inspired me from this show. I remember Lauren Cifranic's powerful wall sculptures series: On Pins & Needles: Unmanageable, Irritable, Tolerable, Agitated using encaustic, paper, threads and pins that was in that exhibition. I'm intrigued by 3-D as it is something that isn't natural in my own art practice.
What makes CTVAC unique?
The Charles Taylor Art Center is unique in its membership, expansive gallery and variety of artists and teachers that are involved. It had a well-respected and interesting manager in recently retired James Warwick Jones and his assistant Debbie Maida plus volunteers. I think having an artist in that position can be quite effective because they understand what an administrator cannot when it comes to artists. I think his leadership helped build the outstanding reputation that exists. It will be exciting to see how a new manager who I understand is also an artist, Jennifer Morningstar will continue and add to this wonderful arts space. Again, one of my favorite things about it is that there is such a variety from art hobbyists to professional artists in the mix. I also like the variety of new exhibits that have been created through the years.
Are there artists who inspire you?
There are loads of artist friends and contemporaries that inspire me, but in terms of master artists a few come to mind right away like Louise Nevelson, Richard Diebenkorn, Elaine De Kooning, Han Hoffman and Jackson Pollock. A few favorites that I follow online include: Joyce Stratton, Mauricio Toledo Piza Lopes, Diane Di Bernardino, Dru Scott Warmath, Ruth Schleeh and Pamela Caughey. I will get to study/paint with Pamela Caughey in her workshop in New York in August of this year.