I sat down with Shelley Grice– corpo business student turned kickass young artist. Fresh out of quarantine, Grice has been vigorously painting in the studio, while picking up a new degree outside of her oil painting mastery in architectural design.
Despite having an untraditional love affair with fine art, Shelley’s passion for painting started off young, when she took her first oil painting class in eighth grade. Having enrolled in art school in addition to high school, Grice had hopes of attending an art school for college. However, Shelley was met with the all too familiar, dare I say, capitalistic pressures to get ‘a real job’ and be a financially stable adult normie.
Essentially, she was told: “if you go to school for fine art how are you going to support yourself?” and “’why pay to go to school if you won’t be able to get a job after?”
Tough. Shelley’s decision was also centered around the foreseeable ego-boost of becoming a prosperous and thriving business woman. Thus, she took a different route, attending USC for accounting. Because oil painting and numbers are pretty similar, right?
She began working at a hoity toity accounting job at a fancy ‘leading global provider of audit and assurance’ (according to a google search), that is, until her artistic right brain started kicking her. Ie, she was realizing that numbers weren’t really her thing.
During that time at the company above, Shelley was diagnosed with epilepsy, which really put things into perspective. She essentially was forced to ask herself the big question: “why am I still working this job?” Shelley began to pick up painting again on the side, and eventually left Deloitte after two years after having taken a five year break from her canvas and brushes.
Beyond it being a catalyst in her decision to shift career paths, Shelley’s epilepsy has also worked as a source of inspiration for her art.
She claims: “I really lost touch of myself and my connection with my body. I felt like when you’re having these seizures you don’t have control of your body. So, as a meditation, I would dance naked in front of my mirror in order to take control over my body again and reconnect.”
With all of this in mind, Shelley created an entire series dedicated to feminine bodies and female portraits.
Regardless of her fervent adoration for painting, Shelley, as like many other artists, has been met with several challenges over the past year.
When the pandemic hit, Shelley had massive expectations for herself to take advantage of the solitude and grind out what she’s best at. However, Shelley was shocked when she found that painting alone in the studio during quarantine was extremely isolating and uninspiring.
Additionally, having to take on all of the commissions she could get, Shelley admits that painting for a living rather than creating from her own inspiration grew to be burdensome and took the joy out of art.
“I felt inhibited as an artist, I didn’t have that freedom of expression because I was doing commissions, which are other people’s ideas, not my own.”
Shelley acknowledges that this was a huge reason why she decided to return back to school and has become an architectural design student, where now has more freedom to work with a medium she’s passionate about. Shelley also has goals to collaborate with photographers and challenge herself by shifting away from her beloved portraits to more abstract or landscape pieces.
Having done a full 180 in the career world, Shelley’s greatest piece of advice for young creatives is to follow your own curiosity. Regardless of how hard she worked in accounting, Shelley realized that it was her lack of genuine curiosity and innate interest in numbers that led her to abandon a life in finance.
“The thing that drives success is your own curiosity in what you’re doing. The more driven you are at what you’re pursuing and the more passionate you are, the more successful you’ll be”
And for Shelley, that happens to be art