Photography by Julia Kathleen.
I recently had absolute the pleasure of meeting Shanti Nemethy here on Kauai. An Instagram DM led us to shooting her beautiful new collection of abstract paintings entitled "Amelioration" in our home! It was so fun to style the pieces and I was blown away by how well they naturally blended into our space. While we had only met each other once prior to the shoot, we immediately clicked and I felt as if I'd known her for years. I'm always interested and drawn to people, especially women, pursuing a creative passion - in my opinion it takes a lot of courage and resilience to not only create but then to put that creativity out into the world. I sat down with Shanti during the shoot to talk about her creative process, what inspires her, and the inspiration behind the new collection (which you can check out here!)
How/when did you start painting? What is your earliest memory of creating art?
SN: So I don’t actually remember my first time painting… because I was a baby. My dad is also an artist and when he would paint, he’d sit me on his lap and sometimes let me paint with him. Even though I don’t actually have a memory of this, it still means so much to me because I know in my heart, that is when my love for art began. From a young age, I was always drawing, making crafts, and doing anything I could get my hands on when it came to using creativity. However, I didn’t actually start taking painting seriously until a few years ago.
You mentioned to me that Amelioration is your first collection of abstracts. What made you turn toward the medium and what inspired the collection?
SN: It sure is! I was always doing realism before this collection and although I had attempted a few abstract pieces in the past, it was never something I thought I’d be into. One of my dear friends wanted to commission an abstract piece from me last year and I was SO nervous because I truly didn’t feel like it came naturally for me… I’m a bit of a perfectionist to say the least. So I took a small online course on abstract expressionism and I became fascinated with the process of using intuition while creating abstracts. I ended up loving the piece I made for her and more than that, I loved the process. I realized that painting realism stressed me out and although I liked the end result, the actual process wasn’t very enjoyable most of the time. Breaking the cycle of perfectionism is so hard but I’ve learned so much about myself in this change and I’ve never been happier creating than I am now.
Are you an artist full time or do you have a day job as well?
SN: I wish! That is honestly my goal. I’m also a registered nurse in the emergency department. Working in the ED during this pandemic has made me realize that life is too short and I owe it to myself to try my hardest to make my dream of becoming a full time artist true.
What advice would you give you creatives looking to make the jump to pursuing a creative passion full time or simply just putting their work out in their world for the first time?
SN: I saw this video recently that made me think a lot. It said, “What if you fail? If you fail, you’ve already won because you tried in the first place.” I think my biggest advice I can give to anyone who wants to pursue their passion is to not let the fear of failure stop you from even trying. Failure was and still is my biggest fear, to be honest. But I know that my future self will regret it if I don’t even try to live the life that I want to live. I owe it to my young self, to my present self, and to my future self to work as hard as I can to pursue my passion. We all deserve that really.
You and your husband have lived on Kauai and even Molokai - do you find living places where you are close to nature helps keep your creativity flowing? How do you keep yourself inspired?
SN: Absolutely! Nature is everything. It grounds us, inspires us, it keeps us alive. Nature has always been the biggest source of inspiration for me. If I have painter’s block or I feel unmotivated, I go surf, hike, or just admire nature and it digs me out of that hole. Nature had a huge impact on my inspiration for my Amelioration collection. The lines on each painting were inspired by tree trunk lines I found while hiking. Another way I keep myself inspired is to take breaks… burnout is a real thing even if you love what you do!
Who are some artists and creatives that inspire you?
SN: Well of course my dad for one. He’s always noticed the smallest details in everything and that’s taught me so much in my lifetime. I also love Irina Smirnova, Joy Kinna, Irina Cumberland, Zoe Pawlak, Michelle Heslop, Noelle Phares, and I mean the list could go on for pages! I also get so inspired by creatives who genuinely love their work. I tend to be very hard on myself so when I meet a creative person who loves and respects their own work, it teaches and inspires me to be kind to myself. I believe that confidence=better work and that is something I am working a lot on.
In your opinion, what is the key to creating authentic work?
SN: As corny as it sounds, to be yourself. Being authentic means that you are being true to who you are, what you create, and what your intuition is. When you stop caring about what others are going to like or what others are doing, you create what YOU want to create and that itself makes your work authentic.