A look at the Next Generation
If you are an Artist living or working in Mississippi and would like to be interviewed click here.
Q. Tell us about your background in Art.
A. As a 19-year-old artist. I can’t say that I have much as a background, growth wise.
I started getting “serious” about my art in middle school, so around ages 11-13. I was in the Gifted Art program, which I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but I was placed in a separate art class with a few of my peers. It was this time that I really began to believe that I could do art as a career when I was older. I wasn’t focused on my skills yet at all, I was more into playing computer games or making videos with my toys. My 8th grade year is when I enjoyed making art a lot more. It’s also the year I first won in the Student Gumtree Competition. I received a Judge’s Choice award on a drawing of a sunflower in a jar that I did. It was a rewarding feeling.
Entering high school, I was still placed into Gifted Art. My art teacher, William “Teb” Thornton, was 100% my mentor. He taught me what art is and what it means. Of course, it’s a secret I dare not speak beyond the walls of the Saltillo High Gifted Art room. He taught me the value of hard work and he understood that sticking to a normal curriculum in his class was not something I was going to do.
I learned about the Gumtree Student Portfolio Art Competition, and to me, that was the goal. My first two years in high school, I did the normal class work, but as I entered my junior and senior year, I was able to explore more ideas and I worked exclusively on my portfolio. I worked the entirety of my high school career to build my skills and my portfolio to be able to have work to compete with, and along the way I ended up winning an array of awards in different student art competitions. I did win the Gumtree Student Portfolio Art Competition my Senior year, but after I achieved that, I had no other goal in mind.
I decided to go to college for Architecture, as I love math and art. That’s still the plan, but I would like to learn more about graphic design as well.
I’ve been doing commissions since the beginning of high school and that is still the main thing I do for income. I’ve painted dogs, cats, babies, logos, family crests. I’ve designed T-Shirts and posters. I’ve illustrated a book. I’ve painted on glass, 2 sided-canvases, canvases almost as tall as me, small canvases, and longboards. I’m working on getting started painting murals now.
I’m slowly starting to get into the idea of creating stuff that tells my story. I painted a few dozen of abstract flower to get into the groove of creating. I have an Etsy account (@SkylarSloan) where I sell those paintings and prints of my old art and I have an Instagram account where I like to post updates or pictures of my art (@Sky.Popart). Now I’m starting to paint for me. I still do commissions, but now I want to create my own art.
Q. Where did you grow up, and how has it affected your Art?
A. I grew up in Saltillo, and it affected my art in a few ways. First, I can’t find myself dreaming of cityscapes when I go to create. I think of flowers and meadows and fields of cotton and trees and lakes. And I get intimidated by most of that subject. I love flowers, but everything else is just all different shades of green. Not that I can’t produce the image, but that I don’t know where to start to even compose a simple piece. Second, I was taught a lot of my basics while in school. I attribute so much of this to my high school art teacher, Mr. Thornton. He pushed me and encouraged me so that I could be in the artistic place I am now. While I’m not fond of the subject matter around me, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without him.
Q. Tell me about a memory from your childhood.
A. I remember sitting outside in the blistering heat under the shade of our barn on the cool concrete ground. The heat makes me sick, but I would always go sit out with the kittens that the stray cat that had chosen my family had in the comfort of our horse stall. I didn’t have that many friends as a young girl, I was very shy and reserved child, so I would always talk to the kittens. I’d talk to them like they were my friends. I’d have lots of conversations about how I felt or what was happening in the world. The kittens were my social outlet during the boring Mississippi summers.
Q. Tell me about any themes you pursue in your Art.
A. Mental Health is something I’m pursuing right now. It’s too stigmatized right now. I want it to be a more open conversation.
Q. Tell us about a real life situation that inspired you to create.
A. I’m going to take this question the wrong way. I get inspired to create when nothing goes right. I can be on the brink of tears when I decide that I need to calm down and just draw. Whenever I get like that, I can start and finish a drawing so quickly. I’ve done 5 hour commissions in just 2 hours when I’m this state. Don’t twist my words either, no quality is scarified in this process.
Q. Tell us about your dream project.
A. A project I’ve literally dreamed about is painting scenery or still lives without my glasses on. I’m a solid -4.0,-4.25, so I would love to see what mush of colors would come out of it. I haven’t done it because I forget about it all the time.
As an architecture, an art museum is my dream project. As an artist, I have no dream projects. I just want to do as much as I can.
Q. What is the best piece of advice that you have been given?
A. Make your lights lighter and your darks darker.
Q. What is some advice that you would give to a younger you?
A. I would tell her not worry, that everything has worked out so far. I would also ask her to get help sooner, and that she would feel so much better inside if she did.
Q. Why do you think Art is important?
A. It’s a subjective history tool. You have political cartoons, war propaganda, statues of the greats and the not-so-greats, opinions from young, old, the city folk, and the country folk. You can create anything at any age. And that can tell a story.
Q. Tell us something about yourself that everyone should know.
A. I’m trying to study abroad and every piece of art I sell goes towards funding my trip. I would be excelling my career as an architecture major by getting a 4th-Yr level class off my plate before my 4th year. This would let me pursue a minor easier.
Q. How do you differ from other Artists in your genre?
I have no genre. Artists have no genre. Artists can do anything they want, when they want.
Q. Is there anything you would like to tell those who are thinking of pursuing a career in the Arts?
Do it. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because you can. And you should. It’s healthy to have a hobby and it’s healthy to do what you want to do.
Skylar gave us enough for two interviews. So keep an eye out for Part II next month
Check out these other great interviews