My name is Alaiyo Bradshaw and I was born in London, England and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. I began painting watercolors in the art department of my high school, where I received several awards. I studied fine arts and art history in undergrad. I have an MFA degree in illustration from the School of Visual Arts.
My professional illustration and graphic design work are in the areas of editorial, children’s books, advertising, publishing, flyers, brochures, websites, props for plays, professional magazines, newspapers, and more. I have developed a line of custom-made accessories and clothing based on my watercolors. At Parsons School of Design in New York, I am the Associate Director of the First Year program and Assistant Professor of Fine Arts. I am a Signature Member of the Brooklyn Watercolor Society.
My artwork takes a passionate view of a social conscience. In my work, I reconstruct dreams, children’s stories, cultural iconography, ethnography, and social issues. I bring my training as an illustrator and graphic designer into my work as a fine artist. I think of my paintings as single-frame narratives–windows into the subject. The objects are recognizable images that I place in an unfamiliar context or render in an unusual way.
Influence may often be subconscious, but I have to recognize what came before me, what I study, and that it has all been done before. Not my way, however. What I have studied, such as the watercolors by Cezanne, the use of the sky in Magritte’s work, the colors of Maxfield Parrish, seep into my work.
As an Illustrator, I use my imagination be it from reality or not, to create visual journeys, documentation, stories, and reenactments. I have memorized my previous painting techniques, people, places and things, that I have painted before and the meaning behind it all.
My colors are felt by me, just as if they are comfortable clothing. Clothing is an extension of my style, and my style is not only worn but painted. The subject matter is dictated by the article, content of the book, play content, etc. My watercolors are a mystery at times, often unrecognizable in their technique and medium, often mistaken for oils.
I love to shop for clothes, go to plays, hang out with my painting buddies. One of my favorite activities is the paint parties I have with one of my good friends. We do paint, but the day has to include food, music, a glass of wine and a few breaks to watch a video.
I use watercolor as a medium to create depth, translucency, and opacity. Winsor & Newton watercolors have transparency while Holbein paints often are more opaque.
Self-Portrait With Cat
My beloved cat Saki eyes the viewer warily. As for symbolism, cats are symbolic of rebirth and resurrection, per their nine lives. They are also unpredictability and even healing.
The shawl is a symbol of life and safekeeping. There are two sides to my painting. Youth and aging. (the hand and shawl=aging as does the cat)
Noblewomen in the Middle Ages wore chokers to protect themselves from disease. In Native American societies, they were also worn to show a high social ranking among the tribes and as a sign of wealth.
This image is a departure from watercolor. In the recent past, I chose to use color pencil on toned paper. The technique used here is one I teach to my students, called sight-size. It refers to a method in which the artist makes a drawing the same height and width as the subject depicted. I taped my drawing paper to the drawing board placed on an easel.
The verticality of the board is perpendicular to my line of vision. The objects, in this case, a still-life, were placed on the left of my drawing board. I stood at arm’s length from my drawing so that I could see my still-life and drawing side by side. I made comparisons of shape and proportions by using plumb lines and horizontal measurements.
Like Magritte, I drew a box, (not a room) but what is a room but a box? These objects now relate as they are placed together through color, light, and scale. None of my concepts or feelings are linked to them. I agree with Magritte when he stated: “The familiar becomes unfamiliar, the normal strange.”
My Watercolor Painting Process Video
I have a recent interest in printmaking. I have just started experimenting with etchings on a small press in my studio. My clothing and accessory line is custom made items based on my paintings. The collection is an exciting venture. Seeing customers wearing my art is gratifying.Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in