"A cuppa" interview with Patricia Shea.

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of interviews with inspiring and creative people. Working freelance is often a very solitary way of life, opportunities for meeting others are few and far between and therefore all the more precious. How nice it would be if the friends that I have met lived near enough to pop around for a cuppa! I first met Patricia Shea whilst exhibiting at Surtex, a mutual friend introduced us over a cup of tea. I have grown very fond of both Patricia and her work over the years and we have kept in touch by email. Although we both studied at the same art college and did the same course, we were in different years and by the time we met Patricia was living in the USA. I find Patricia's work inspiring and exciting, I love her sense of colour and pattern. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join us for a cuppa!

Q1. How do you take your tea and in what kind of cup do you like it served?

A1. I really like a good strong cup of loose Irish Breakfast tea with just the right amount of half and half (do you have that in Blighty?) I prefer my tea in a mug to a cup but my fave 'vessel' right now is halfway between the two and it has a lid to keep the tea warm whilst you work. see pic 'cup and lid').It actually features one of my designs and was made by Andrea by Sadek, sadly it isn't available anymore but I did just feature that image on some items at my Cafe Press store.

Q2. If you could choose anyone, past , present or future, who would be joining us for tea?

A2. I think my choice would have to be Alphonse Maria Mucha who had the uncanny ability to combine art/design and illustration in a perfectly cohesive and spectacular way. I never know if I am a designer, an artist or an illustrator and I look to Mucha to help me figure that out. I frequently refer to his work for inspiration and am constantly awed by the exquisite beauty of his line and his delicious textile design-like repeats.

Q3. Tell me a little about your background in art and design.

A3. I have done artwork of some kind all my life starting as soon as I could pick up a pencil. As a child I was crazy for paint-by-numbers and spirograph both of which have greatly influenced my work...I always feel the gripping need to stay within the lines and I love the consistency and repitition you achieve with spirograph, certainly helps with repeat patterns! I attended Manchester Poly. for Textile Design and to be honest dropped out after my first year which is ironic as I ended up in New York running the Textile division of a big company there who let me learn everything on the job, how INCREDIBLY lucky am I? When I decided to leave the textile job, due to lack of creative fulfillment, to go freelance in NY I veered more towards home decor and did a lot of designing for porcelain companies as well as for paper products.

Q4. Where are you based and does it influence your work?

A4. I am based in Belfast, Maine USA. (See pic 'blueberry hill')...a view from the top of the blueberry barren next to my house) It is a lovely little coastal town at the top of Penobscot Bay which is a very beautiful part of the world. It's influence on me is somewhat abstract in that the beauty of the area doesn't show up directly in my work but it does put my mind and emotions in a very good place to be creative. The winters here are truly brutal....many days you don't even go out of the house and that certainly gives you a lot of time to really get down to work!!! In winter there is NO colour here and I find my artwork getting brighter and brighter in direct response to that lack.

Q5. What have you been doing/working on today?

A5. Today I have been finishing up what I call a "Daydream Mandala"( See pic 'daydream mandala')...this is kind of my fun/play work that I do to meditate...again it is a grown up combination of spirograph and paint by numbers...I figure out the repeating design, transfer it to a large circular piece of MDO and then fill in the shapes...being very careful to stay within the lines. My illustration work really requires my complete attention and every step of the way deicisions have to be made...with the mandala work all I have to do is decide on the colours and fill the shapes in....I find it very rewarding and relaxing and it gives me time to think about my daydreams.

Q6. I hope that you have brought along something wonderful to show us, what is it?

A6. This is one of my favourite watercolour paintings...(see pic 'Gilding the Lily'....ha ha!) I did it for no reason other than I wanted to see it exist. I haven't used it for any purpose other than to inspire myself with the possibility of being able to do what Mucha did with art/design and illustration combined.

Thanks for calling round for a cuppa Patricia! When I am rich and famous, or maybe when I win the lottery, I am going to commission you to make me one of your fabulous couture rugs! The landscape in Maine looks beautiful, lucky you. It's a shame the pretty cup is no longer available.
I am sure we will be seeing much more of your work soon.

To see more of Patricia's work you can visit her website. She also has a Cafe Press shop. Patricia's partner James Strickland is also an artist with his own website. All worth a visit.