Cindy Shaoul, Smarts Sass Emma Roberts, 2020, oil on board,  20 x 16 inches. (Courtesy: Cindy Shaoul).

Cindy Shaoul equates her work to inventing, and with the stroke of her brush, she indeed creates whimsical and enchanting worlds. Shaoul is passionate about her art and is steadfast in her belief to remain true to herself through her art. When so many of us are struggling, Shaoul has found her creativity, and her work not only flourished in 2020 but garnered the attention of actress Lily Collins and the like.

She shares with Fine Art Globe more about her creative process. 

I would describe your work as playful. How would you describe your art?

I would define my work as whimsical-nostalgia. I love to express moments in time that linger and make us feel free and young. Many times while I’m painting, I become nostalgic for a time in my life that makes me feel good, so I hope that gets translated and makes someone else receive those good feelings. I also define my work as barrier-free. In certain paintings, I allow the eye to fill in the blanks and let the subconscious take part in the piece.

Cindy Shaoul, Girl with Balloons by the Park, 2020, oil on canvas,  40 x 30 inches. (Courtesy: Cindy Shaoul). 

Do you remember the first thing you painted? How old were you? 

The first painting I did was with my mom. I never painted, but she is an artist, and I watched her paint all the time. I never felt like I would be an artist and didn’t have the confidence to pursue it when I was young. I must have been around 14 when she sat me down and said, “just try to do this; if you don’t like it, I’ll never ask you again.” I did a little painting of a waterfall with some rocks and a log. I wasn’t convinced and left it alone. I did, however, begin to do pencil drawings. I took art in high school, and that was about it. It wasn’t until I was in college and returned home on Thanksgiving break at 18 that I did a huge —nine-feet tall, oil paint abstract mural, and from that day on, I never stopped painting.

Cindy Shaoul, Dripping Dots Saint Tropez, 2020, oil silver leaf glass on canvas,  40 x 30 inches. (Courtesy: Cindy Shaoul).

You are well-known for your “Dripping Dots” series, could you tell me about these works?  

The “Dripping Dots” emerged out of my studio while going to the Arts Students League in 2009. I cleaned the paint with my brushes onto a new canvas (because I didn’t want to waste the leftover oils), and soon, the motion of cleaning turned into dots on the canvas. I began to connect the dots with linseed oil — this is how this motif was imprinted. I didn’t think much of it but just enjoyed painting them; it was a freeing moment of painting in an abstract way after going to school and learning the impressionist technique. The experience of discovery with color and emotional brushwork became very cathartic to me. I did several pieces and left them aside. It wasn’t until friends had a look and asked, “what is this” that I realized there could be potential. I replied, “they’re just my dripping dots.” Their reaction fueled me to create more. Over the past decade, I have given more intention to the work with thick oils, mixed media, silver and gold leaf, along with broken pieces of glass. It took me several years to create the “Dripping Dots” body of work to realize the meaning and what the dots represent. Each piece has a theme and transports you to a place around the world. I wanted the symbolism of the work to connect in a worldly way because the dots represent people and large crowds, how we are all connected yet separate. Each dot is like a person, and the space that separates us is the bridge that connects us all.

You studied under some impressive artists at the Art Students League in New York City, including   Joseph PellerGregg Kreutz, and Thomas Torak. What are things you’ve learned from them that you use in your own practice today? 

Joseph Peller was my first teacher, and he taught me the use of shadow and light, which is a tremendous tool that I use in my painting practice. The idea is that each stage of light has an important role, and it’s my job to capture that in every brush stroke. Gregg Kreutz taught me to be fierce in New York streets, take my supplies, and set up and paint a street scene from life, among so much more. Gregg is the reason I started Plein-air painting. Tom Torak taught me how to implement movement into the initial sketch of a painting, a great tool that adds impressions of a classical tradition: the linchpin of his class. I am grateful to all of my teachers, two of whom are also my mother and my grandfather, both artists I grew up learning from every day just by watching them paint.

Cindy Shaoul, Stepping Out by the Courtyard, 2020, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches. (Courtesy: Cindy Shaoul).

New York City Graffiti artist LA II (Angel Ortiz) is well known for his street art. You collaborated with him on a project that was shown in Europe. What was that experience like?

Working with LA II was a phenomenal experience. He has a magnetic personality that truly loves to collaborate with fellow artists. We met at a gallery on the Lower East Side of New York City. I was introduced to him through a friend, and very soon we started working on pieces together. I flipped through a book of his work with Keith Haring, where I saw this old car in the background and thought about making a drawing of the car, and then LA filled the background with his signature calligraphy style. The collection became an homage to New York’s streets, where LA began when he first met Haring. The works got noticed by a gallery owner in Barcelona and later were exhibited. Working with LA was like a whirlwind to the past. I almost felt as if I was there because he talked about his experience as a street artist in the 80’s working side by side with Haring like it just happened the day before.  

Cindy Shaoul, Emily in Paris – Lily Collins, 2020, oil on board, 20 x 18 inches. (Courtesy: Cindy Shaoul).

You were born in NYC but spent some time in both Budapest and Israel. What drew you back to New York? How do the cities you lived in differ in terms of art and culture?

New York was calling me home. It was like a magnet that tuned to the other side and inevitably pulled me back. Budapest and Tel-Aviv are so different, both unique in their art and culture. Budapest feels like a lost city with so much history and beauty to uncover as you walk down each city block. Monuments and sculptures are everywhere, reminding you of all the classical beauty from hundreds of years ago. Tel Aviv is like a found city: a euphoria that enamors you with beauty from both the city and the sea. The art scene is at your every move. It is everywhere you turn — galleries in the center or art painted by local artists on the city walls. I painted a mural on a friend’s storefront of colorful butterflies, and, looking back, today, I’m grateful that I was somehow a part of the living art movement that is thriving there now.

I love your recent depiction of Lily Collins from “Emily in Paris.” Any celebrities on your list next?

I definitely have a few in mind. I love Vanessa Kirby in “The Crown.” She has some stunning imagery that I would love to capture.