Shelbi-Nicole was still new to the art scene in Houston when she was invited to show some of her work at a gallery. At the time, she was working mostly on commissioned work but wanted to do more gallery shows so it seemed a great opportunity. She had no idea what a great opportunity it would turn out to be.
"I get there with my work," she tells us, "and they tell me it's a jury process, and for me to leave my work. Some other artists would judge my work and they would get back to me. I was confused, because I thought they had invited me to show, but I left it. A little while later, I get an e-mail from them that was basically a report card, with a grade. It said, 'You have a 6.17 and you need to have a 7 in order to show at this gallery.' They wrote everything that they didn't like, everything that I was doing wrong. 'Your frames are wrong, you can't show them in a nice gallery.' It was just a list of all this stuff that I was doing wrong. Basically they were telling me what art is and how my work didn't fit in.
"I went and picked up my work, I went home and I didn't stop painting for a month. I painted an entire collection. I was so upset and I felt they thought my work wasn't good enough so I had to prove them wrong."
The series of paintings she completed became her Signature S series, one of her most popular and successful. "I found a gallery that was willing to show my work, it was a solo show and it ended up doing really well. Since then I've learned a lot about the art scene and the people in it. There's always going to be somebody ready to tell me I can't do something. I just have to keep moving forward."
One of the paintings from that series is Motivation, seen above. "That's me sticking my tongue out at the report card they sent me."
What She Does: "I've always said I'm an artist and painter. Now, I'm doing art full time now, so it's even more true. That's very new to me, doing art full-time. I never saw that coming, but it reached a point where I actually needed more time to work on all the commissions I was getting and I was making enough [money] that I was able to leave my job."
Why She Likes It: Shelbi-Nicole says she thing she likes about being an artists is the ability to express herself. "I don't feel that I've ever found any other way to, other than painting. Also, I'm shy and it's a way for me to get my voice heard."
What Inspires Her: "Each painting is a little bit different, but most start out with an emotion. Most of the time it's a reaction to something that's happened to me. [The Signature S] series was fueled by somebody telling me everything that was wrong with my work."
If Not This, Then What: "If I wasn't painting, I would want to be on HGTV, fixing up house and building things. I love remodeling. That would be my other dream job would be to have my own home show, with DIY stuff."
If Not Here, Then Where: "I love Chicago, I love the art scene there but the weather is a huge deterrent."
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What's Next Shelbi-Nicole has several large projects in the works, including providing enough art for one client to fill his entire home. [A man] saw my work at a solo show, and he bought up most of it. Then asked her to do enough for his whole house. Right now, he has about 20 huge paintings of mine. When it's done, it should be about 30 paintings."
As with most of her commissions, Shelbi-Nicole has found herself making a few changes to please her client. "[He happens to be a dentist] and when he was showing some of his friends the paintings, one of them noticed that the figure I had painted had black teeth. [The client] had never even noticed that, and I didn't even think about it. It's just what I thought went in that painting. He told me he couldn't have a painting of people with black teeth. But for the most part, he's been really happy with what I've done."
Shelbi-Nicole also has a series of murals in schools that she's completing and is looking to participate in more gallery shows. She just participated in Houston Press Artopia 2014. .
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer