Name: Sheniqua Young
Location: Long Island, New York
Bio: Sheniqua Young is a Jamaican- American self taught painter from Long Island, NY. She discovered her creative talents at an early age, and would always find herself creating something by drawing, painting, or other crafts. She primarily paints in oils, watercolors, and acrylics. “My art is a means of catharsis, I thrive on being able to express myself through my paintings.” Her subjects include portraits of people of color that depict pride, self-love, beauty and celebration of culture. Her work focuses on the beauty, poise and strength of women. These portraits focus on Black women to provide a sense of confidence in the viewer, and to promote self-love among women of color.
Describe your experience as a current artist.
I am currently a full time artist and part time student. I have always been an artist and began painting at a very young age, but I started taking it seriously a few years ago. Growing up, I drew almost every day and placed in a few art local competitions. Due to encouragement from my family, I decided to start sharing and selling my artwork online. My first art show was in June 2017, and since then I've participated in about numerous art shows and events.
What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist?
I sold my first painting during my sophomore year of college and soon after decided to open up an Etsy shop for my artwork. I didn't really intend to take it any further, I just hoped to get extra cash to buy more art supplies. The summer after I graduated, I had a lot more free time to pursue art while I searched for a job. My family was always very supportive of my artwork, and encouraged me to start selling my work online. I participated in my first art show in June 2017, and since then have shown my work in 15 group exhibitions and art events.
What was your biggest challenge/obstacle in pursuing art and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges of being an artist, is finding a way to balance my creative pursuits and grow as an artist with my other obligations. Over the years I have definitely struggled to keep working on my art as school or another job would take priority. However, I know that I am happier when I am able to destress and paint, so I always find a way to make time. Sometimes that means getting an hour of painting in at 5am before I leave for work or sketching on the train but I always make time.
Describe your biggest milestone or project/series achieved since pursuing your art.
Over the past couple of years, I have participated in over 15 art shows. Going to these art shows has allowed me to become more confident with speaking about my artwork and networking. I have always been very shy, so it was definitely a challenge but I am glad I have been able to share the talents God gave me.
How does your personal style and identity translate into your artwork?
I love all forms of arts and crafts. Growing up I loved painting landscapes and flower art. Recently, I have been focusing on portraits of women, I am still developing my art style and there are so many things such as impasto, gold leafing and resin, that I want to possibly incorporate into my work. I love trying new forms of art, and have learned how to use watercolor, acrylic, oil, color pencil, graphite, pastels, and digital art.
What is one thing that makes your art unique?
My art is a reflection of myself, and love being able to utilize different mediums in my work. When I paint skin, I always imagine doing someone's makeup. I use expressive brushstrokes and bright colors in my acrylic paintings. I also love using softer blended skin tones in oil.
What is your favorite art technique and why?
My favorite muses are black women. I love painting all of our gorgeous skin tones and hair styles. My favorite technique is oil painting because I love that I can blend it so easily. I especially love blending skin tones like makeup and giving my portraits a flawless look. Since oil paint takes longer to dry, I can work on it for short periods of time during a busy week and still be able to get the same soft blended effect.
How do you maintain your mental health and inspiration?
Painting gives me an outlet to destress. My art is a means of catharsis, I thrive on being able to express myself through my paintings. Taking the time out to paint every few days is so therapeutic and helps me to unwind and relax. It is definitely a challenge to get through creative blocks, and most of the time my art block comes from me not wanting to "waste" the canvas or mess it up. So I end up just staring at the blank canvas. One thing that has helped me is taking another blank scrap paper/canvas and painting it as loosely or abstract as possible. This helps me to stop focusing so much on obsessing over making perfect details.
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP interested in furthering their art goals and/or owning her own business?
Always find time to draw or paint every day so you can really help develop your skills. The only way to get better is practice, so try to incorporate even a 15 minute sketch on your train ride, lunch break, or before bed.
What is next for you?
I have a two art shows coming up in NYC!
What does being a "black girl who paints" means to you?
Being a "black girl who paints" means that I was given the ability to see the world in ways that others cannot. I can express myself through my artwork that can hopefully inspire others. As a black girl who paints I want my artwork to shine a light on the beauty, poise and strength of black women across the globe.