Interview with an Artist (Kelly Grace & Shaun Downey)

I noticed Kelly Grace's art when I went to an outside art gallery show thing at Nathan Philip's Square, ans immediately fell in love. Then I found out she had an artist husband...and the rest is history.


Name: Kelly grace
Occupation: Self Employed Artist
Age: 34
Website: www.kellective.com

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I've wanted to be an artist since I was 12.

Where did you study/go to school?
I started training at the early age of 13. I attended Unionville High School which is a school of the arts that starts your training in Grade 9. I went on to study at Sheridan College for Interpretive Illustration.

How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband Shaun Downey while attended Sheridan College. He was also an Illustration student there.

Does it make it easier that your husband is an artist too?
Yes, a lot of people assume it's harder to be married to a fellow artist. Some people think that it is competitive or something. Since our styles and medium are totally different it actually helps me. When I need an objective artist opinion on something I'm working on or something I'm stuck on I can just walk across the hall and ask him to come in my studio to give me his two cents. I also do this for him when he needs another opinion or advice.

What's your inspiration for your art?
Most of my inspiration for my art comes from the past. I am very much inspired by retro subject matter and colours. I am also lucky to have so many photo sources to work from since my family took so many photos growing up. Glowing sunlight across a cityscape is also my favourite time to capture.

What medium(s) do you use?
I use acrylic medium only. I work primarily in acrylic paint on wood panel.

How would you want your art to effect people?
I want my art work to resonate in the minds of the viewer. I want my images to stay with people once they've walked away from viewing them. I also want the people that purchase my work to feel this way every time they look up on their wall.


Name: Shaun Downey
Occupation: Self Employed Artist
Website: www.shaundowney.com

Were you born in Toronto?
I was born in Mississauga, and moved to Oshawa when I was around 6 months old.

Why do you create art?
I was always a creative kid, and found that art was the one thing I excelled at. I didn't consider art as a career until after high school, when I was introduced to traditional teaching methods and realized that it was possible for modern artists to create classically inspired paintings. I try to convey emotion through my work, to capture the viewer’s attention not by shock, but by quiet beauty found in the expressions of my sitters. I want the viewer to ponder the meaning of my works, to question the scene. I try to never give the ending away in stories that my painting are often created around, leaving the viewer to make their own decisions as to whom the sitters are and their relationship to the environment I have placed them in. I also enjoy the idea that my paintings will exist long after I am dead, so I can keep speaking to people through them, giving me a sense of immortality I find comforting.

What is your inspiration?
I am inspired by the great painters of the past, namely, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Norman Rockwell (very under rated) and Ingres. Their ability to tell stories and drum up emotion in the viewer has always impressed me, and I strive to take their visual language into our current visual language. I also try to do my part to help the resurgence of representational painting, art work that everyone can relate to, regardless of education or social standing. It is a terrible loss that the common man feels disassociated from modern art forms, to feel that art is only for the elite and they haven't been invited to the party.

Does it make it easier that your wife is an artist?
Having two artists in one relationship has its pros and cons like everything else. It is wonderful to have a wife who fully understands my commitment to my work. It involves long isolated hours and I think it would be difficult for some who doesn't exist in a creative mind set to appreciate that. It also helps to have an extra set of eyes around the house, so we can help each other see problems in each other’s work. It can be financially trying at times, with no weekly paychecks coming in as we are both full time artists, things can get shaky. But we motivate each other to produce our best works, and enjoy sharing this roller coaster ride that is living as creative professionals together.

How would you like your art to speak to people?
With all of the images we have flashed in front of our eyes these days, from advertising, the Internet, television and film, it is difficult for the modern painter to compete. I want people to feel a sense of calmness when they view my work. It is difficult to stop and relax for anyone, our workdays are so full, modern responsibilities are vast and stress levels are high. I want my work to be a calm oasis that people can sit in front of and drink in.

What (mediums) do you use?
I use oil paint for my paintings, and use charcoal, carbon and graphite for my study drawings.

Who's your hero/idol?
I wouldn't say there is one hero or idol I admire. I have the utmost admiration for people who truly dedicate themselves to their work. Those who sacrifice their own leisure time and time with family to create something larger than themselves. This doesn't only apply to visual artists; I find inspiration from all walks of life, from hip-hop artists, to teachers and scientists, to huge pop acts like Lady Gaga. Anyone who will sacrifice themselves for the enjoyment or well being of others, selflessness is a trait our society is truly lacking.

xo, stefanie

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