GUEST ARTIST: “Practicing Self-Care Through Art” by Shanyn Silinski

Octopus Watercolor Painting by Shanyn Silinski

My name is Shanyn Silinski and I’m a painter, photographer and writer from Alberta, Canada (if you are familiar with Alberta I am northeast of Calgary in a beautiful area of prairies, badlands and in view of the amazing Rocky Mountains). I grew up appreciating and loving art. I always wanted to ‘grow up’ and be an artist or a writer.

Shanyn Silinski Watercolor Winter Trees Featured

Even though I was told time and time again that they weren’t ‘real jobs’ and that I should be more practical with my aspirations.  I have been blessed to meet some amazing artists who inspired me to appreciate art even when I wasn’t creating it.

I remember playing with a vintage set of pan watercolors and stencils from the 1940’s and loving how the paints mixed and how they flowed. A few years later, while on holiday, I found a set of pan watercolors and a book to paint in.  I started as a young teen on my journey of being a self-taught watercolor painter. I experimented, I painted loose and detailed. I sketched first and winged it too.

Lighthouse Watercolor by Shanyn

In university, I started a dual degree in Art and Art history but didn’t finish. I never gave up trying different mediums and art forms. I’ve done so many and enjoyed aspects of them all but nothing has come close to the love I have for painting watercolors.

In the past few years, I’ve found myself too busy to do my favorite hobbies of scrapbooking and writing poetry, and I found myself feeling more and more like something critical was missing. It was self-care and finding ways to feed the creative in me.

I started collecting paints and brushes, and paper. I did colored pencil drawings and burned through adult coloring books and printable pages. Then one day, I looked at a page and thought, “That would be pretty painted!” After finding my paints and a couple of brushes I did paint that page. And others.

Being a parent and a spouse, working and having a family life doesn’t always leave a lot of luxury time for creative endeavors. I needed something to help me focus and really make my dedicated painting time feel like it was good. I won’t say productive but in a ways yes – productive.

Being on Instagram has been very inspiring, I enjoy seeing and showing love to fellow artists. I am inspired by their creativity and amazing work. I stumbled across Doodlewash and the prompts. It just clicked – I could paint every day and not worry about WHAT to paint. I’d have something to get me started.  That was eight watercolor sketchbooks and a few pans of colors ago.

Eye WatercolorMy self-care time is precious, and I defend it.  We talk more about the importance of mental health now and self-care is one of the hardest things to really work on. It’s easy, too easy, to stop taking care of ourselves in the busy of life. But, creating that calm space is, for me, as critical as coffee or sleep. I NEED it. My family is better for me taking that time. My work is better. My friendships are better.

I advocate for self-care more now than I ever have, and it’s mostly because I’ve seen firsthand the benefits. My teenager sketches and is starting to paint daily. I’m getting my husband to expand his self-care into exploring art. We spend the time together, listening to music or chatting and creating. I encourage my friends and family to make the time, take it, for something that feeds their soul like being creative can. It doesn’t have to be painting. I have been a writer as long as I have been painting. I love scrapbooking. Being a photographer lets me capture amazing things to paint.

This winter, I am embarking on a course to become a certified art therapist, which I am looking forward to doing.

Okay the fun stuff – what do I like to paint with? I love the large pan paints (especially the pearl paints) from Michael’s.  I have a set of Brea Reese paints that I love to use, they have such dynamic colors. I travel with my Daler-Rowney tin, even if the short brush doesn’t get used (I have a roll pack of brushes I use instead).

Landscape Watercolor

Brushes – I am not a specific brand person so much as I am a ‘does it feel good’ and ‘does it have nice touch’ specific. I browse brushes from everywhere I go. Art stores, dollar stores, book stores, crafting stores. I have a lot of brushes, and often use many on a piece.  Sometimes, I challenge myself by randomly picking a brush and only using that one brush to do an entire piece.

I enjoy painting animals, scenery, still life and picking aspects of a larger subject to focus on. I try to use my own photos for reference when I can, or those of my friends. Through the prompts I am finding myself painting many new and challenging things. That is a very enjoyable process! Some subjects are very regional to where I live (canola fields, grain bins, wild sunflowers or snowy owls) and others are prompt led and random.

Arctic Fox Face Watercolor

When I draw using colored pencils and black and white, I tend to be very detail oriented, okay sometimes obsessed, but with watercolors I can relax and enjoy the paints and the process. Sometimes I sketch first and work at being precise, other times I just start putting down color and enjoying where it takes me. I don’t throw out my ‘failures’ anymore – I keep them to work on, to improve or just respect that I was trying something.

I enjoy painting anywhere I have space for water, brushes, paints and paper. I enjoy doing playful things like painting with actual coffee, and I love giving paintings as gifts. Even though it is quite nerve wracking to share something that is so personal.

Because I am mostly self-taught, I love the sharing of process videos on social media – it is a great insight into how other artists are making magic with paint and brush.  I am constantly trying new things (masking fluid – what a very cool thing!) and different subjects (and treatments of them) to stretch and grow. It is always a shock to me which pieces get the most love, as they are often the ones I was most intuitive on and not the ones I’ve labored over the most.

Mountains Watercolor Sketch

I have been blessed to do some painting evenings with small groups and friends, it is wonderful to introduce people to enjoying how paint moves and how colors can touch us rather than having them worry about ‘making a thing that looks like something’.  Leaving perfectionism behind has let me become a better artist and more confident. And a little more loving towards my pieces that have not turned out how I imagined they would.

Art Studio Shanyn Silinski

My creative area, thanks to the work of my sweet husband, is quite large and has room for multiple projects. I have a painting and crafting space that lets me explore other painting media and styles as well as play with paper crafting and enjoy having someone create next to me when I feel like having a less solitary creative time.

Shanyn Silinski
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14 Comments
  1. Mary Roff 10 months ago

    Lovely range of artwork!! Thank you for sharing your journey!

    • shanyns 10 months ago

      Thanks for stopping by and reading about it. I appreciate that!!

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 10 months ago

    Shanyn, you bring up an important part of the reason for being creative – to nurture and care for the impulse that drives us to be who we are. to keep our lives vibrant. Your art beautifully expresses that need to explore art.

    • shanyns 10 months ago

      Thank you so much. That encourages me. So happy you stoppy by to read a bit about my journey.

  3. Kathy Delumpa Allegri 10 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your creative journey, Shanyn! I enjoyed seeing your paintings and reading about how art enriches your personal life.

    • shanyns 10 months ago

      Thank you for stopping by and for leaving some love. I am so pleased you enjoy my work.

  4. Karen Fortier 10 months ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey and your lovely art! Self care is critical to our wellbeing and helps us to deal with life’s surprises.

    • shanyns 10 months ago

      It sure does!! I find that when I take care of my self care everything else can be managed better. Thanks for coming by and enjoying my post.

  5. Sandra Strait 10 months ago

    Shanyn, congrats on starting your course to become an art therapist. Your joy in art shows in your work and I’m that will make you great at the job!

  6. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 10 months ago

    it is so lovely to read about your art journey Shanyn!!! Your art is amazing!!!! I fully agree that art is good for the soul. 🙂

    • shanyns 10 months ago

      Thank you so much. I am happy you came by and thrilled you enjoyed my art!!

  7. Lin Powell 10 months ago

    I love all the variety of subjects and techniques. I also love to do art in my journal just for me because I know when I don’t do something creative for myself, I tend to get cranky. And when I know I am doing my art just for me, I feel free to play and experiment and not worry if it ends up looking like a hot mess. It takes the pressure off. Very impressive that you are able to spread the message of art for the soul to family and friends.

    • shanyns 10 months ago

      I get cranky too when I don’t get my creative time. It is so important. I like that I can embrace the ones that don’t turn out as expected and those that turn out better. Thank you for sharing and.coming by!! Keep on creating!!

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