Shelley Irish

My oil paintings dance with unabashed honesty of the medicines and challenges of the human life cycle. Like a spider, I explore the net between psychology and spirituality. Once an idea comes, I discover what it wants to say to the world by feeling it and exploring it completely. I translate that experience into a painting. I then offer each work as a meditation on existence.

Dark caves of dancing shadows are where my paintings start, both in the first steps of painting and while incubated in my heart. I love the dark. My paintings are as much about the majesty I find in shadow patterns as they are about color, value, perspective and realistic rendering. Light and color in shadow intrigue me like a cat in the night. I feel painting is like an endless hunt for the dance between shadow and light to be paused at the precise right moment where both of them are in their full expression.

Heart-wise, I feel everything and, ultimately I paint my feelings. It is more fluid for me to do this than expressing them any other way. I am a quiet person and art is my voice of choice. While painting, I feel enchantment, it is a time when my body disappears and I am only my mind, eyes and hands. It’s like flying dreams while awake. Outside of that bliss, the harshness and mediocrity of life stings, and I am, again, forgiving myself for me being just as challenged as everything else. Doing shadow work helps shape the type of light we have to shine. Only then can we truly illuminate. We have to wash the dirt away. To keep my heart clean and clear, I paint about what passes through it.

I paint slowly and deliberately in a style reminiscent of the Renaissance Masters. I am a classically trained oil painter working in the Visionary theme. Paintings are labored over for months (sometimes years), being sanded, glazed and meticulously painted until they reach a state of expressive realism. I start with the shadows and take great care to ensure luminosity in my darks. I paint very thin, building up ever so slowly and subtlety, so that my paint application is as delicate as possible. Since 2015, I’ve been studying the work of painters using Mische technique, and am incorporating some of that process into my recent work. To me, Mische technique is a dissected Master’s technique further illuminated with a light wand. The overlaps and differences in these techniques intrigue me to no end.

My path is a seeker of truth and I am highly interested in the interconnectedness of energy and the material world. I use shamanic journeying, meditation and energetic healing techniques to explore each painting I’m contemplating. I conduct a lot of research for each painting, to come to an understanding of how science, spirituality, global culture, alchemy and human emotion overlap into one moment of vision.