My name is CJ Shelton the Owner of Dancing Moon Designs.
What inspires you?
Nature is my number one inspiration and all my work takes on a circular form called a Mandala. The patterns and geometry found in nature and also the spirit in nature inspire my work. I work a lot with lighting and how the spirit manifests through art to physical world. Sometimes my work can be a bit abstract and visionary so my art is based on things I see in the real world and thing I see within .
How did you get started with Mandala Art?
I’ve been drawing since I can hold a pencil. I’m a Sheridan Collage technical illustration graduate so I had a career as a technical illustrator. I did wall paper and textile designs for many years and then I went into graphic design followed by going into the print industry and advertising. But during this time I was free lancing and doing architectural drawings. While I was working I had a stress injury to both of my hands and was told that I couldn’t paint or draw again. So I said that’s not happening so I had multiple surgery on both hands. Took a few years off and also took some additional training because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue. As part of my own healing I got into Mandala Art, which can be very therapeutic. I had to loosen up what I was doing until my hands recovered, which they did. Once I saw the benefit of doing that my whole work underwent a huge shift. I started drawing and painting what I really wanted to do and not so much commercial oriented but drawing from the heart and soul. Then I discovered that I wanted to teach so I started teaching. When I got a studio at the Alton Mill I started teaching drawing and painting and hosting Mandala workshops.
How have you grown and developed as an artist?
Growing up my dad insisted on me making money doing art so that I can make a living doing it since its what I really wanted to get into. My work became very structured and technical and realistic. So what has changed now is that all of those drawing skills allow me to draw things that aren’t necessarily right in front of me. I can draw things from my imagination and I do things in a more visionary way. So my work has really changed over the years especially in the last 6 years. The one thing that remained the same is that nature is my inspiration.
What are some challenges you have faced and what advise would you give?
Its really important as an artist is to be true to yourself and do what you are passionate about. Draw and create what you love and don’t do it to please others . If you are doing it to please yourself others will see that because the passion comes through. That’s really what I’ve learnt going through the commercial path, my surgery and being told that ill never paint or draw again.
During the time I was drawing in the commercial setting it got a bit too formula and I wasn’t excited anymore. So when I started getting more creative everything just began to flow. As an artist you have grow so you allow those changes to happen.
What is your creative process like?
I don’t turn out a lot of work because I think a lot about a piece so I usually have to see the end result. Its almost like a vision. Then I start drawing and sketching concepts and doing thumbnail work. So overall I would say that my process is figuring out what I need to do in order to achieve the effect that I want.
Tell us about your ‘Grace Collection’.
They are a series of painted horses that illustrate different qualities like grace, hope and courage. I would only use horses in black and white and paint illustrate what the essence of that quality will look like. So its all in the expression and the light and the pose. They are a series of 9 horses and the first few were inspired by racehorses . race horses have an incredible spirit and lots of heart. For me personally I love the different qualities of a champion that we aspire to. People really resonate with them and see the qualities coming through.
He really resonates with me at this time in my life. I’m going though a difficult time now and definitely having the courage and strength to get though it has helped. He’s a little tired and worn looking but he will make it through one step at a time. So that’s his story for me but everyone sees something a little different.