Interview with Shelee Carruthers, fluid artist

"I wasn’t giving up, I knew what I was looking for and the consistency of the paint was paramount to the success, so I just kept going until I found it."

Interview with Shelee Carruthers, fluid artist

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hello! I'm an Australian artist that took a liking to fluid art after becoming bored with a paintbrush. I grew up amongst a creative family on the East Coast of the country, and now live near the great barrier reef surrounded by islands and the ocean. I live with my partner, 3 beautiful children, 2 dogs and a few dangerous Aussie wildlife residents in our jungle-like dwelling!

Describe your work as a fluid artist in 3 words. 

Ambitious. Passionate. Content.

What inspires your artistic work and creative process?

I am constantly inspired by others, mostly from my own E-course students who have over-delivered when it comes to breaking new ground. They have shown me so many new ways to paint. I gave them something unique to work with and they have taken that knowledge and pushed it far outside the square. I really believe that together we have changed the direction of fluid art. 

I’m also inspired by the beautiful surroundings near me: lots of blues and greens and floral bursts of bright pinks and orange. There are NO rules for the paint palette with fluid art!

What’s great about your job?

Working from a home studio certainly has its perks, for example I can keep my youngest child at home and spend time with him in between work. Of course it's also a huge bonus to thoroughly enjoy my work, I love going to the studio and working, so I’m not even sure if calling it work is accurate. I do have all the normal paperwork stress after hours, but when I paint and film I’m in heaven!

Have you faced any challenges during your work as a fluid artist?

I have faced many challenges over the years developing my fluid art recipe. I have bought almost every product on the market and mixed together every combination imaginable to finally stumble on the amazing mix. I wasn’t giving up, I knew what I was looking for and the consistency of the paint was paramount to the success, so I just kept going until I found it.

Have any particular artists influenced your artistic work?

Honestly, not really! I wanted a unique style and a unique mix of paint so I really only took colour inspiration from other artists. No other artist had the ‘look’ I was going for, so I was really on my own there. I knew I wanted to pave the way for a different direction and I led the way myself. 

Most fluid artists were still using silicone oil to create the ‘cell’ effect and I wanted to change this. Silicone oil was making random cells sporadically pop up all over the painting and also leaving oily residue on the surface after drying. The cells that you can make appear naturally are much more uniform and attractive.

4a5b12a1fd524c58633026ea8c35a38bb5ca96c3.jpgYou have recently chosen to release your “recipe” secret to the world. Explain more about this decision. 

I kept this new-found recipe to myself for quite a while. I was worried to share it for a few reasons: the main one being that I was trying to establish myself as a selling artist - I wanted to make a career out of selling my paintings and become a full-time artist, which was always my dream. Telling others of the secret recipe would hamper my efforts towards establishing a strong art collector following. 

Over the last year, I’ve become an in-demand artist supplying international collectors with my original paintings. After a while I realised I could not keep up with the demand: I had minimal time to create art and sell to these collectors, trying to be a full-time mother and a full-time artist was pretty hard! I could see the messages piling up and my Instagram was growing significantly with most followers wanting to know the secret recipe. 

I received a few heartbreaking messages from hobby artists explaining they were seriously depressed after not being able to create the fluid art they wanted, and also many messages I from people who were spending lots of money buying products just like I did - and to no avail. 

I felt compelled to help. I wanted so badly to share the secret to help these people find success. At the same time, I was worried about my own business and family situation so I thought about offering the online E-course for a very affordable price. I knew I could probably charge much more after looking at other online course prices but I wanted to make it affordable for everyone. 

How did you get into an arts job? Have you also worked outside the arts?

I was determined to make my living doing something I love. My parents always encouraged me in this. Initially I did put in the hard hours with zero income for quite a few years, the entire time thinking and hoping I would eventually earn a living. It was a huge risk and my family made major sacrifices for me to chase this dream. Now, I’m incredibly happy to see this amazing new ‘family’ in my Facebook group. We all support each other and make daily discoveries with fluid art and acrylic pouring - the future is very exciting!

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what? 

I’m noticing that most acrylic pourers are starting to realise you don’t need super expensive products to do fluid art - you can do it on a budget! You also do not need to shop at expensive art stores to make a really beautiful piece of art to sell. The art store ingredients don’t really appeal to me and don’t really work with my recipe - I’m looking to share a more affordable way of making ‘instant art’ and the best part is, anyone can do it. I sometimes call my e-course students ‘overnight artists’ because even if you feel you don’t have a creative gene in your body, YOU CAN DO THIS ART!!!

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

There are no rules in this creative industry. If you have an idea, roll with it. If you really want to make art your job then don’t give up, keep pushing forward and believing in yourself, think outside the square. 

If I'd stayed using silicone oil and following along like a sheep, I would not be here today. I believed there was more to discover and I chased that. There’s always more than what you see… go find it!

How can people find out more?

Interested people can find out more about the online course by visiting my website or taking a look at my social media on Instagram or Facebook @sheleeart.


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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