GUEST ARTIST: “Windows Into my Visual Journalism” by Alaiyo Bradshaw

Metropolitan Jr Baseball League First Black World Series Watercolor by Alaiyo Bradshaw

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.

Last Summer With Maizon Watercolor Illustration by Alaiyo Bradshaw

Last Summer With Maizon

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.

Thea's Throw

Thea’s Throw

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.

Metropolitan Jr Baseball League and the Monarchs Watercolor by Alaiyo Bradshaw

Metropolitan Jr Baseball League Welcomes the Anderson Monarchs

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.

Metropolitan Jr Baseball League Monument Watercolor by Alaiyo Bradshaw

Metropolitan Jr Baseball League – Continuing The Legacy

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.

Art Supplies and Sketch of Dog by Alaiyo BradshawMy Art Materials

My materials of choice are Winsor & Newton and Holbein watercolor tube paints, Arches hot press watercolor paper and a multitude of sable, squirrel and sabeline round brushes.

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

Self Portrait With Cat Watercolor by Alaiyo Bradshaw

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.

Portable Still-Life

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.

Portable Still-Life Colored Pencil

Portable Still-Life – Colored Pencil

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.

Alaiyo Bradshaw
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16 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    Alaiyo, your work is beautiful! I love your self-portrait with the cat and your color pencil work is mysterious and evocative. Thank you for sharing your artistic journey with us!

  2. Laura Hale 2 months ago

    That you for sharing your art with us! It’s awesome.

  3. Karen Fortier 2 months ago

    Alaiyo your work is gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing your story and your progress!

  4. Walter F Pierluissi 2 months ago

    Welcome to doodlewash, your art is very good and enjoyable…. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Mireya 2 months ago

    Alaiyo your thoughts had me at color, your influences and studying art. This is my dream I found myself saying wow at your words and illustrations. You’ve inspired me to put together some of my favorite works thus far. Thank you for giving me creative courage.

    • Alaiyo Bradshaw 2 months ago

      I am honored to hear this. Very happy for you! I am glad you are finding inspiration.

  6. Walks in Watercolor 2 months ago

    What a pleasure to get to know your art. Thank you for sharing! Your paint parties sound like so much fun, btw.

    • Alaiyo Bradshaw 2 months ago

      Thank you! Yes, we enjoy getting together for the paint parties. You should try it too. 🙂

  7. Janneke Booister 2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your art and your story. I enjoyed both 🙂

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