Credit: Shennel Thomas | IG: @shennelthomasart| Contemporary Abstract Artist Shennel Thomas
Affirm Noire| August 6, 2021
4 minutes

Some of the largest names in the most creative industries began their careers as children. Sam Gilliam envisioned becoming a cartoonist at a young age before he became a world-renowned Black lyrical abstractionist artist. Yet, it's easy for one to lose their creative interests due to life's many unexpected moments along the route to #adulting. Moments such as actually losing the passion you once had for something. Contemporary abstract artist and founder of Shennel Thomas Art, Shennel Thomas (she/her) can definitely relate.

My mission is to show and spread my passion for abstract art all over the world. To stand out and show other Black artists that it is okay to be hesitant and scared but to always be your own number one cheerleader.

As a toddler, Shennel was obsessed with colors and coloring books. As a result, she began sketching in her free time. Once she got to high school, she dabbled in many art forms including realism art and creating art of faces, hands, and on glass. She took off to college with the heart for art, but something happened along the way.

Shennel Thomas, Founder of Shennel Thomas Art
Credit: Shennel Thomas | IG: @shennelthomasart | Shennel Thomas Art Founder Shennel Thomas

"Art class was the only class that made me happy in school," she said reflecting on her childhood. "I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pursue it in college," she continued. "Unfortunately, I lost most of my passion and decided to move on and gave up on my dream."

But, in 2018 art showed up once again in Shennel's life kind of like that analogy where an old ex you share an undeniable chemistry with crops up and aims to try and make amends...and you decide to let them stick around (and they have gotten even hotter and bonus: changed for the better!).

"I remembered the feeling of creating and immediately wanted to try it again to see if I still had the passion I once did," she said.

She began creating abstract paintings in her spare time and watching videos of artists creating on YouTube. She stumbled upon fluid art, a form of abstract art that uses acrylic paints with a runny (or fluid)consistency, and fell in love.

"It was unpredictable and free flowing, exactly like myself at the time," she said. "It wasn’t until I sold my first painting that I knew that I could finally do and be what I’ve always wanted, an artist."

Today she is crystal clear on the role art plays in her life.

"My art is more than just a hobby or a business," she declared. "It’s a passion that I’ve had since I was a child."

And with this declaration, Shennel was able to confront the fact she was afraid of the stigma commonly assigned to Creatives: the struggling artist stigma. And that it previously played a role in her giving up on art.

Credit: Shennel Thomas | IG: @shennelthomasart | Shennel Thomas Art Founder Shennel Thomas Snapping Photo of Art

"Regardless of that fear, the passion never truly ceased to exist," she said. "It simply faded in the background of my life until I was ready and confident enough to say it's time."

But now that stigma no longer holds Shennel back from committing to who she is. The days she spends fully immersed in her work are her favorite. These days can include between four and fourteen hours centered on art. She begins these mornings doing guided meditations, making to-do lists of her personal projects, and starting or completing commissions. Then, after getting ready for the day, she walks over to her art studio, which is just ten steps away. She uses music to boost whatever mood she's in and to keep her from procrastinating on her phone.

However, she doesn't procrastinate about her mission as an artist.

"My mission is to show and spread my passion for abstract art all over the world," she said. "To stand out and show other Black artists that it is okay to be hesitant and scared but to always be your own number one cheerleader," she continued. "Your art may not appease everyone, especially those closest to you, but there are too many people on this planet to worry about the ones who do not like your art."

Neither does she procrastinate about her dreams pertaining to her art. She knows exactly where she's headed.

Credit: Shennel Thomas | IG: @shennelthomasart | Shennel Thomas's Abstract Art Africa II (left) + Africa III (right)

"I see myself honing my personal style and expanding my art substrates to murals (whether it be for businesses or home decor) and large scale paintings," she envisaged. "In the future I will have my art hanging in art galleries around the world and I will own my own art gallery where I can showcase my own art as well as other Black artists," she continued confidently. "This will give us a space of our own where we can celebrate and uplift one another all while baring our soul to the world through our art."

And her dreams are definitely unfolding before her eyes.

"Being a small business owner and an artist, there is a piece of me in every piece of art that I create and send to its forever home," she said. "So, knowing that my work is already in different countries, some even on the other side of the world, is a very big accomplishment to me."

And when it comes to advice to other Creatives, she says:

"Keep reaching for the stars. We'll make it there together."

Connect with Shennel: 

Affirm Noire

This article was edited by the Affirm Noire Staff.

art, business + self-care fueled by 
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