Focus on your art and create a connection — keep a journal. Often, feelings of self-doubt creep in. Whenever I get those feelings I go to my journal. When I begin writing it helps release a lot of those negative feelings so that new energy can start to flow. It reminds me to be grateful and to focus on what’s important. A lot of the time, as I’ve mentioned before, we can get in our own way, it’s up to us to take the decision to move forward, create deep and meaningful connections and think positively so that great things can happen.
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy Shaoul.
Cindy Shaoul’s blend of impressionistic and abstract style is inspired by the whimsey and purity of the feminine form. Her most popular series includes “Brides,” “Dripping Dots,” and “Hearts,” as well as her iconic “Plein-Air” street scenes of quintessential New York locations. Shaoul’s work can be found in private and corporate collections worldwide. Since her first group show at Parsons School of Design in 2009, she has been showcased internationally — from Italy to South Korea — and shown at various art fairs nationwide, including Miami, Palm Beach, Dallas, and New York. Shaoul has had numerous solo exhibitions and become a favorite of celebrities such as Emma Roberts, Lily Collins, Ashley Park, Catherine Deneuve, and John Malkovich. She is currently represented by Lilac Gallery, Peanut Gallery, and Lerebours Antiques.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a house surrounded by art and antiques. I would watch my grandfather and mother both painting when I would come home from school — my mom in her studio, and my grandpa using the living room as his. I never painted or thought I would become an artist, I thought the gene skipped me, but I did just simply enjoy all the art that surrounded me. When our kitchen burned down and we had it redone, the first thing my mom did was paint the walls beautiful green garden landscapes in oil paint. She also made, out of plexiglass, gorgeous parrots that resembled stained glass and installed it as well; our kitchen became a living art installation. In school from 3rd grade until 9th grade, I had a complex about learning because I was labeled “learning disabled” I thought why try to do well in school if I just have this problem? I was the “space cadet” of the class. It wasn’t until one of my best friends simply told me “Cindy don’t you want to go to a good college? You’re smart you just have to “try” that I snapped out of my hypnosis and began earning A’s and B’s. It was my senior year that I was finally able to take an art class and that’s when my curiosity and passion grew for drawing and painting.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was at a crossroads in college in my second year. I had a fire burning inside of me wanting to take painting classes, but my school didn’t offer any. The closest thing they had was a set design class. Half the semester was very technical and mathematical, I struggled with that immensely and felt like I was failing all the time. In the second half of the semester, I was finally able to take the drawing and watercolor part of the class and that fueled me and felt right. After finishing that semester, I took the plunge to return home and knew in every part of myself that painting is all I wanted to do.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
A few years ago my cousin commissioned me to paint two people in love because she wanted to find the love of her life. I painted her a piece of two people kissing in New York City in the snow with a taxi zooming by in the distance. Six months after she received her painting, it happened; she found the love of her life. When first asked about the commission, she told me that she saw somewhere that art can have the power to create attraction and influence the subconscious. So when I saw this actually happen in front of my eyes, I thought wow art really can have superpowers.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am starting to teach Plein Air painting through my YouTube channel. I’m really excited because I’ve been wanting to make tutorials for a long time. I’ve been asked so many times on social media if I’ll ever do it, so to finally start this chapter feels really good and I hope to inspire a lot of people to find their voice and get out there and paint from everyday life!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
After my interaction with Ashley Park from “Emily in Paris” when she found my work on Instagram, we continued chatting, and soon after I was asked to do an impressionistic piece for her bestie Lily Collins for her wedding gift. She sent me a photo of Lily and Charlie in Paris and asked if I could include their pet dog Redford. Ashley told me when she gave Lily the painting, she cried. Stories like this just make me feel truly grateful and I feel very lucky that art has the power to create emotions and capture places in time that can stay with someone forever.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
A lot of inspiration comes from the materials that I use paired with emotions from everyday life. One day I was going to set up my Plein air painting and when I got to my car, someone had broken my window. I thought to myself, “why does this have to happen now!?” but then when I looked down at the broken pieces of glass on the floor sparkling, I thought “how beautiful” I quickly ran home picked up a dustpan and collected all the broken pieces of glass. I thought to myself, “one day I will use these somehow”. I left the glass in a box for some time, then months later after finishing a Dripping Dots piece, I looked at the box and decided to add some broken pieces of glass into the thick oil paint. Until this day, every time glass breaks by accident in my home I am equipped with a dustpan and a box.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I donate paintings for auction to a variety of charities throughout the year. I also aspire to help teach Plein Air painting and boost other people’s confidence; everyone can truly be an artist if they have the desire to learn. Most of the time it’s just our own self that can talk us out of achieving great things, so through my videos, I encourage a way to help others gain confidence and that it can be easy if you allow yourself to let go and try.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It might not be a smooth and easy road to stardom. It takes lots of learning, fails, and criticism to get your first sale. Nothing happens overnight! When I first began to paint I collected dozens of paintings, then they became hundreds. I started to have shows, slim sales, and received criticism. I never got discouraged; I listened and tried my best to incorporate the criticism into my body of work. One of which was to have a theme in a show, having all of the works connect to tell a story. I was a bit “all over the place” at the time, but I knew that was great advice. It took a decade until I was able to build up themes in my work, and even today I still keep working on this concept, it has become a part of my daily routine.
- Never listen to anyone that wants to stop you from achieving your dream. I had an acquaintance who tried discouraging me telling me that “I’m painting too much” and that I should take a break to reflect more and think about what I want to communicate. If I would have listened, I would have lost the momentum that was inside of me. Never lose that momentum, it’s a golden key to getting you to where you want to be.
- Share what you’re doing with the world, don’t be afraid. I didn’t start becoming very active on my Instagram account until the pandemic. I thought, “oh who cares to see the behind-the-scenes, and how a painting is created?”, but then because I was spending so much time at home, and I felt the urge to connect with people, I thought perhaps becoming more active will fulfill this need. And surely it did. I feel like it created such a great avenue to share with the world and made my purpose as an artist so much more meaningful. Connections were created and I found out how people truly do want to see how a painting is created and get a peek behind the scenes and even inspire others to begin painting themselves!
- Focus on your art and create a connection — keep a journal. Often, feelings of self-doubt creep in. Whenever I get those feelings I go to my journal. When I begin writing it helps release a lot of those negative feelings so that new energy can start to flow. It reminds me to be grateful and to focus on what’s important. A lot of the time, as I’ve mentioned before, we can get in our own way, it’s up to us to take the decision to move forward, create deep and meaningful connections and think positively so that great things can happen.
- Have a purpose. When I first began painting I did it because I was in love with it. Over the years I realized it’s more than just being in love with what you’re doing. I realized it’s a way to uplift others, raise money for charities, teach and motivate others to go after their dream of becoming an artist, and inspire emotions within the viewer to feel things they wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s a purpose with so much meaning, and can truly change the world for the better in so many ways. And I certainly feel like I’ve only just grazed the surface. I can only wish to keep expanding and would have loved to know this much earlier on in my career.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Dali once said “Every child is an artist”. As well, I believe every person is unique and extraordinary. If I could start a movement it would be to help create awareness of the potential that is inside everyone. To help the most amount of people overcome self-doubt and negative self-talk (just as I did when I was young because I thought I had a learning disability). I’m sure if my friend never encouraged me, I would still be in that same hypnosis.
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
I would love to sit down with Mel Robbins, she is part of such an amazing movement connected back to the idea of positive thinking and eliminating self-doubt to become the best version of yourself. She is a strong woman making a true difference in the world and I would love to chat about art and what motivates her every day.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media
If you jump on Instagram facebook and or youtube type in Cindy Shaoul. Please feel free to send me a message, I would love to connect soon!
This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!
Cindy Shaoul: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.