Hometown: Denham Springs
Artistry: Figurative and abstract painting
Like vibrant streams bursting from an abundant headwater, meandering lines of paint pour out as Shelli Brown leans far over the edge of her large floor-bound canvas. Guiding these wild rivulets through twisting, often unexpected channels, the sudden reveal is that of familiar curves and contours, both unmistakable as the human form, and yet surreal and lively enough to play plenty of tricks on the brain.
Strutting chickens look in on this former sunroom of the hundred-year-old farmhouse she grew up in, a space swamped with flood waters in 2016 and now housing dozens of Brown’s canvases and sketches, all of the nude female form.
“That’s just what my brain sees,” says the part-time singer and LSU alumna with a kinesiology degree, who puts her understanding of muscle articulation to good use in her work. “I take it for granted. You just assume everyone is weird, but not everyone is. Not everyone sees what you see in the random shapes of things.”
For her dreamy, marbled aesthetic, she blends colors with a pouring medium to boost the fluidity of the acrylic so it runs across the canvas with ease. But that causes trouble.
“It’s very hard to control, so mostly this method is for completely abstract work, pretty colors,” says the wife and mother who spent years singing in cover bands. “Nobody does this. I’m a risk-taker.”
After being badgered by her friends, she approached The Foyer about her paintings in 2016, with the unlikely sales pitch of “I don’t know anything about anything.” They loved her pieces, though, and a month later they asked to restock.
While still selling at The Foyer, she’s working on a series of large-scale prints, and last year, local arts promotion organization Ellemnop produced the “Worth More Than Diamonds” exhibition at the Healthcare Gallery, and the female-focused show featured Brown’s lucid dream figures.
“With each painting being faceless, any woman can see themselves in Brown’s creations,” says Ellemnop co-founder Keidrick Alford. “Her artwork sets the stage for accepting and loving who you are.”
Brown’s advice is to learn from mistakes by working through them without hesitation.
“You have to see through the mess and roll with your mistakes,” Brown says. “If my color goes where I don’t want it to go, I pivot. I can’t be scared to mess up, you know? The attitude has to be, ‘So what?’”