Why did you pick this picture?
This painting is of my daughter. She loves deeply and freely. She lives in the moment and understands the importance of true laughter and happiness. She is my rock.
I’m a military veteran and when I was first separated from from the military, I was lost. I sunk into a deep depression and considered self harm and suicide on a daily basis. It was my daughter who dragged me out. Without her, I would not be who I am today and honestly, I might not even be here today without her.
Where did the idea for this art come from?
I had taken a photograph last year of my daughter just goofing off in the car. We had just purchased her a pair of sunglasses and she thought she was a movie star. She was just living in the moment and hardcore pretending to be famous all while laughing her butt off. It’s my favorite picture of her. I finally decided that I wanted to share that picture and give it more life through my art. She absolutely loved it.
What does this art mean to you?
It means the world to me. I feel that it captures the unbridled joy that my daughter embodies and is a reminder that no matter how lost I feel, my daughter will always be waiting there with open arms and a huge grin on her face.
What can you tell us about yourself?
Creating art helps me connect and relive my most precious childhood moments, experiences, motivations and fantasies. I remember sitting in church every Sunday morning with my grandma and dad. I would spend service kneeling over the seat of the pew and drawing on the back of the visitation cards.
My grandma would praise my drawings, no matter how bad they were, but my dad was harsh and quick to criticize my work. He possessed an unrefined talent for art, himself, and pushed me to always do my best, even when I just wanted to doodle and draw cartoons. It wasn’t until I became an adult, did I understand the motive behind my dad’s criticism and that it came from a place of love. I, then, vowed to surpass him and to show him just how amazing my art can become.
My dad has always had high expectations of me and he was never so proud of me as he was when I joined the military. The military was my life and my identity for 6.5 years. I voluntarily deployed to Iraq and I strove to make my dad proud. But, it all came crashing down around me when I was separated from service unexpectedly.
I was pregnant with my daughter and floundering to get a good grip on how to function outside the military. I sunk into a deep depression and considered self harm and suicide more times than I care to admit. My daughter was my saving grace and she is the reason I create now. Seeing her eyes light up when I am drawing or painting is beyond inspirational. I have rediscovered my inner child and a well of creativity because of her.
What more can you tell us about your art?
I’m an aspiring illustrator. I want to create fun and thoughtful illustrations. I have always dream of illustrating for children’s books and am currently trying to raise enough funds to self publish a cute little book that I am writing and illustrating
To see more of Shawnna’s artwork please follow the link below to see their instagram page