Shia Simone’s Art is Musically Inspired as told by Shia Simone in her own words:
I first became interested in painting when I was four years old. An older sibling gave me paint-by-number set. I started putting the colors together then, and I was hooked! I grew up in the South around working class people who used song and rhythm and musical beats to get their work done. This, I believe, influenced my work habits as well as subject matter. I always dreamed of learning an instrument or having a great singing voice, but alas, neither of those were my gifts. My favorite instrument visually is the upright bass because of its rich, brown finish; beautiful form and curves. Next is the piano, also with graceful curves and a beautiful finish. Its music is mesmerizing. I love the way Nora Jones and Aretha Franklin weave their piano music into their songs. Keiko Matsui is another favorite.
Most of my art is music themed work. Lately, I have been working on a series of dancers and a series called “When Billye is Blue.” The medium is block printing with mixed media of painting. This is a special type of block printing with mixed media and painting. This type of block printing is known as the subtractive method. Subtractive block printing is a wonderful method of teaching children about color balance and harmony. It is quite easy to teach to an eager student, more difficult to explain. I do workshops where I teach these methods.
Subtractive block printing and collage are two artistic mediums that were put on the map so to speak, by the artist Pablo Piccaso in the early 1900s. Admired because of his fearlessness, Picasso was quite prolific in many art mediums and ignored all established traditional artistic boundaries. Picasso came up with the subtractive method because he wanted to do multiple colors in a simple, effective way without multiple color plates and the hassle of color registration. Subtractive block printing allows you to use one plate for all of your colors. When you finish one color, you simply subtract it by cutting it away from your plate. When you are done, you have cut away the entire printing surface. Thus, you have destroyed the printing surface of your plate by cutting or “subtracting” it all away. The result is truly an edition of multiple originals. They are more valuable because the plates simply cannot be used again as they were cut away in the process.
Picasso and George Braque were instrumental in introducing the art of collage as well. In the early 1960s, an African American artist, Romare Bearden, continued with collage and brought it to a new dimension. I believe Bearden was responsible for putting collage on the map. I have been greatly influenced by these artists. Other artists I admire and who have influenced my work are Gary Kelley, an illustrator; Faith Ringgold a narrative painter and Dorothy Lange’s WPA photography.
My collections of different genres of music to work from when I'm in the studio, include jazz, Latin, blues, pop and soft rock. The music gives such great energy to my work. It drives the creative process. I can even hear the music when the stereo is not on. I can see the music in my mind’s eye and articulate that into the paintings.
I painted for recreation and school projects until some years ago. One summer in the early 80s, I took a printmaking class. I loved printmaking but could not afford a press of my own. The artwork I produced that summer was a series of landscapes. The edition size of these paintings was twelve signed and numbered prints.
One of the galleries that showed my work had predicted that Atlanta would be the place of a new cultural renaissance of sorts. The Piedmont Art Festival was where I learned to set up my work for presentation to the public. I cut my teeth with that festival. By way of all these experiences and the wonderful artists and people I met along the way, I was able to complete my formal training as an artist.
My drawings are still quite simple and are based on a study of the inestimable limitless possibilities of overlapping lines and angles. I finally learned how to make my own plates and do my own printmaking with materials from the hardware store. I can do large format block printing up to 40 inches, right here in my studio! I am quite fortunate to have a large working area.
My work portrays cubist-styled musical themes. It is playful, whimsical and lively. The colors are bold and warm, and the images create festive moods.