Shana Stern – Incredible Abstract Fluid Acrylic Paintings without Brushes

Shana Stern

Age:  43

Austin, TX

I have been painting for about 1 1/2 years so I haven't been wearing the "artist" cap for long but have always been an artist in the broader sense. I began dancing at age 3 and I moved to LA when I was 21 to pursue dance and acting,  but didn't really have the skin for it, (or the chops), and ended up becoming a professional screenwriter. I would have been a musician were it not for my dreadful singing voice!

Faust Arp Shana Stern

Faust Arp - Fluid Acrylic - 24"x30" - No brushes or instruments used to create


Favorite music:  Black Crows, Black Angels, Wild Child, White Stripes, Muse, Pearl Jam, several of the "Lil's"- (Lil Jon, Lil Wayne, Lil Kim), Eminem

I've been battling Multiple Sclerosis for 15 years and have daily issues with a whole host of unpleasant things.  Some days I can barely see out of one eye.  Others my fatigue or nerve pain is so debilitating it takes 4-5 hours for me to get up and moving.  Due to an injury last summer I found myself stuck at home and unable to do most of the things I loved.  I began painting but became incredibly frustrated because I can't hold a paintbrush for long.  I started experimenting with fluid acrylics and discovered various ways to use my fingers to paint with -- both on top of and underneath the canvas.   I'm pretty sure no one else paints the way I do.  (And I don't necessarily recommend trying it -- my fingers and knuckles are now so sore and stiff that I have to dip them in hot paraffin at least 3x a day and every couple of weeks, my skin becomes raw and bright pink, peeling off and I have to take time off!)  I sit on the floor and balance the canvas on my legs - although now that I have started to paint pieces larger than myself, I am having to get creative with how I manage that!

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How did you get started with art?

Both of my parents always had tons of art on their walls - hardly any bare wall-space come to think of it -- so perhaps it was in my cards to eventually become an artist.   And as much as falling and tearing my ankle has been the bane of my existence -- two surgeries in this calendar year alone -- it was also the reason I discovered painting!  I'm incredibly lucky that all my life, both of my parents supported my need to be a creative person.


Being Alone Together - Shana Stern

Being Alone Together - Fluid Acrylic - 40"x60" - Painted with thumbs and fingertips


Do you have any professional educational background?

In dance, writing and acting I have loads of professional and educational background. But aside from a drawing class I took in Italy when I was 20, I have no formal art education.


Where do you work, and do you enjoy it?

I paint full-time out of my "studio" - formerly known as my living room and dining room.  My son doesn't have space to play with his Legos anymore and we usually eat our meals on the couch or on my bed - so I really should find a new place.  The thought of having to pack everything up is pretty overwhelming though.  If I continue to have success selling larger pieces, I probably will have to suck it up and find a new space because otherwise I'll break my other ankle trying to hop over all of the canvas!!

I almost wish I didn't enjoy painting so much because I've become a bit of a shut-in.  I'm like, who wants to get their oil changed, or go to the dentist, or even spend time talking to friends on the phone - when you can be panting?!!!  All I want to do is create!

Life In Technicolor Shana Stern

Life In Technicolor - Fluid Acrylic - 4 panels - 5' in width - Painted with fingers on top and from underneath


Where do you find inspiration?

I mostly find inspiration from music and dance.  I'm grateful I live next to an elderly woman with very poor hearing because I have my stereo positively blasting whenever my son isn't at home.  Each painting I do is inspired by a song.   I will listen to nothing but that song - hundreds of times -- from the mixing of the paints to putting the final varnish on a piece.  I hear a song that speaks to me and I see beautifully choreographed pieces in my head - complete with costumes and lighting -- and then I try and translate the energy and emotion of the dance in my head onto the canvas.
My DVR is filled with recordings of all of the cheesy dance movies like Step Up, Staying Alive and Center Stage.  I see someone do a quadruple pirouette and I HAVE to paint.  It's a very visceral and overwhelming reaction.

Life in Technicolor - close up - Shana Stern

Life In Technicolor (close up) - Fluid Acrylic - 4 panels - 5' in width - Painted with fingers on top and from underneath


Please tell us about your influences.

My father has collected art my entire life and he loved School of Paris artists so I grew up surrounded by the images of Chagall, Miro and Matisse.  I still love their use of color and the energy they exude.    Dad collected and was more drawn towards the Cubist and Surrealist movements - while my tastes drifted more towards Lyrical Abstraction.


What have you done to promote yourself on the internet?

Not enough!  It seems like a full time job to try and keep up - between FB, Google+, Twitter and the plethora of other outlets I know I should be plugged into.  At the top of my To-do list every week is "update website", "set up Twitter", "YouTube", etc ad nauseam.  I don't have the savvy, the vision or the time to get it all done though.

Satisfied - Shana Stern

Satisfied - Fluid Acrylic - 24"x24" - No brushes or instruments used to create


If you have a website, how has that been going?

I built my own website about a year ago.  I have made several sales from people who typed in certain keywords and ended up on my website, (proof keywords work so be sure to take the time to type them in!)  There's definitely room for improvement on it.  I still don't even have a cart tab yet - and I know I need to take time to work on it.  But between my vision going squirrely from reading and typing and preferring to spend my free time painting…


Can you recommend another creative person to us?

I think Scottish artist David Munroe does really lovely things with fluids.  He just completed an Industrial Series that's so intriguing and beautiful to me.  He's constantly exploring new methods and so I get to look forward to seeing what he creates - which in turn inspires me to keep learning, playing and stepping out of my creative comfort zone.

Breakdown - Shana Stern

Breakdown - Fluid Acrylic - 30"x40" - No brushes or instruments used to create


Do you have any achievements or interesting stories you can tell us about?

I was the first woman in Hollywood to sell a pitch for a movie before people had actually read my writing. I sold scripts about Valentine's Day and April Fools Day.  Both still ludicrous "holidays" in my book!


Tell us something embarrassing that happened in your life.

Well that's a toss up between two things.  When I lived in LA I once ran over and hugged a very famous A-list celebrity - mistaking her for a close friend of mine.  She let me rattle off the drama going on between me and my beau to her for 10 minutes before delicately telling me who she was.

Then a few years later, when I was 8 months pregnant, I actually went in and pitched an idea for "Bring It On - 2" - a cheerleading movie - and was dressed up and performing cheers I wrote.  I can only imagine how crazy I looked with a 40 pound bulge and pigtails in a cheerleading outfit!!

Back of Shana Stern Studio painting

The back of a Shana Stern Studio painting - Since I paint with my fingers, often from underneath the canvas, the backs of my pieces tend to look like splatter art.


What future plans do you have?

Shana Stern artistI hope I can continue painting things that people enjoy and want to bring into their lives and homes - and that I can support my son, an amazing 9 year-old aspiring artist himself, so that he can follow his artistic dreams!


Can you share some parting advice to other creative people?

Even though it seems mundane and cumbersome -- attach those keywords to each painting you post on your website!  It pays off.  In fact, that's what I'm off to do right now.  (Well, or perhaps I will just paint instead…)


Thank-you Shana. Please follow Shana Stern at her website and Facebook page:

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