Dorothy Shain is a Greenville, South Carolina-based artist whose work has been seen in publications such as Garden & Gun, Southern Living and Architectural Digest. Dorothy has also been named as one of the ‘South’s Best Tastemakers of 2019’ by Southern Living.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Dorothy about what inspires her and the latest series and collaborations she’s worked on. When she’s not at pop-ups and art shows where she has the chance to meet her audience and hear how her paintings speak to them on a personal level, you can find Dorothy in the studio working on her latest piece.
When did you first know that you wanted to become an artist?
I think I’ve always known, like when sports stars or astronauts just know from the time they are little kids. You just know when it’s your calling. Art has always been my calling from the day I could walk and I really attribute it to my mother. She told me that when she was pregnant with me she just had this wave of creativity.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
Traveling and seeing new things. There’s just something about being outside and meeting new people. The experiences that can come along with travel can be an ultimate source of inspiration.
Is there a particular color palette that you feel particularly drawn to?
There aren’t any colors that I’m particularly drawn to. I just love the color. Sometimes there will be different things that inspired me to use different colors on a particular piece, but in general, I love all colors!
How does a typical day in the studio begin?
The day usually begins around 9. I have two people who help me out in the studio on Monday-Thursday. Someone is always in the studio along with me.
Our typical day starts with a quick meeting to see what we need to do that day. Recently I’ve started to feel like we are having some growing pains, so I’ve been spending a lot more time on the business side of things. I have a couple of days a week where I like to paint uninterrupted in my studio and then a couple of days where I work on the business side of things.
You recently released a series titled ‘Soul Sneakers’. Tell me a little bit about what inspired the series.
I feel like I’ve always liked sneakers. I’m really tall so I like to pair sneakers with my dresses. I also just love the history that so many of the sneaker brands have. The Soul Sneakers series was a fun departure from the bikini series. While the bikini series allows me to play with patterns, this series allows me to explore something different and I just love seeing people’s reactions to it.
Of all the pieces that you’ve created, is there a piece that has meant the most to you as an artist?
Yes. There is a piece in my studio right now. It’s called, ‘An Angel Behind Me.’ It had been in my studio for months and I wasn’t sure what direction that I was going with it. After someone very special to me passed away, I went to sleep one night and I just knew what color I needed to use for the painting. I really equate this painting to a time in my life where I felt someone else was there guiding my work.
I love the beautiful scarves that you created in collaboration with City Boots. What was it like working in collaboration with Lizzy of City Boots?
She is one of my closest friends for college and she’s so fun to work with. Lizzy is very business-minded, but she’s also very creative. With collaborations, it’s always good to have two brains working on the project than just one. Our friendship is one of those where we can have the freedom to dream up these ideas, but also the ability to execute them. It’s so refreshing to have someone to brainstorm with and dream things up with. Art can (sometimes) be hard on your own, so it’s nice to work on projects like this.
What do you enjoy the most about participating in pop-ups and art shows?
My favorite part is definitely meeting new people. I love that during a show people will come up to me and sort of connecting the dots on what a painting makes them feel. I just love the stories that I get to hear. The relationships that are built at events like that are what I enjoy the most.
Throughout the past several years you’ve been featured in magazines such as Garden & Gun, Southern Living and Architectural Digest. What was it like when you saw one of your pieces in print for the first time?
I think I had a heart attack. I literally sat down on the floor of CVS and took a moment to soak it all in. I read the magazines right there on the floor of CVS. It was such a good reminder to take moment and celebrate the things that you’ve accomplished. It’s always been a hard thing for me to stop and celebrate, especially in today’s culture where you’re always moving. We need to celebrate things more. As a one-person business owner, it’s a good lesson to pause and reflect on how grateful you are.
You were named one of the ‘South’s Best Tastemakers of 2019’ by Southern Living Magazine. How did you feel when you heard the news?
I think I was just floored. I was so flattered to be included in the group that they picked. There were so many people I admired in the group so I was just pinching myself. You can be hard on yourself at times and every now and again it’s good to see how far you’ve come. I’m so appreciative to be included.
Website: http://www.dorothyshain.com // Instagram: @dorothy_shain
Images by Emily Bolt Photography