Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shawn McNulty - Painter

Bled White – Acrylic and Pumice on Canvas – 60x60”
Shawn McNulty

Name: Shawn McNulty
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Website: profile:
Facebook page
Twitter: @shawnmcnulty
Etsy Page:

I graduated in 1997 with a BA from St. John’s University.   After college, I moved to Minneapolis and started painting and building up a portfolio along with my website.  In 1999, I was profiled by current Huffington Post writer John Seed as one of the first artists to start selling their art on the Internet.  In 2002, I was one of the founding members of the Rosalux Gallery cooperative. I’m still an active member and have maintained the gallery’s website and online presence over the past 11 years.  I’ve had a studio in the Thorp Building in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District for the past eight years, and I’m currently a full time artist.  My work can be found in private and corporate collections all over the world, and I’ve exhibited in the Twin Cities, Miami, San Francisco, London, and British Columbia.  I also work with a local publisher and create archival pigment prints on canvas and paper from my original paintings.

Sulphate – Acrylic and Pumice on Canvas – 60x60”

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
I’m working on a series of eight 60x60” pieces, and three of these are completed and will be part of my upcoming exhibition in the Inez Greenberg Gallery at the Bloomington Art Center in January 2013.  My current process involves working acrylic and pumice on stretched canvas flat on the floor from a standing position utilizing a shoe palette knife, Swiffer tool, and other non-conventional objects. The idea is to challenge the way I connect to the surface, and create marks that would not otherwise occur from a conventional approach.  

I need the give and take of a stretched canvas to vary the amount of pressure I use to get the desired result as the layers start to mesh together.  I don’t have any preliminary plans when I start a new piece, and I usually do about three to five sessions before I start to see where it’s going.  I also peel off dried paint from the palette knives, and collage the paint skins on to the canvas.  If I can’t finish it this way, I put the canvas on the easel and figure out what’s needed to reach a resolution.

Continuum – Acrylic and Pumice on Canvas – 60x60”

How did you decide to become an artist?
I’ve always been creative.  I remember drawing while the other kids took naps in kindergarten.  I attended St. John’s University and enjoyed the variety of a liberal arts education.  I began painting soon after graduation and eventually turned it into a full time career.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
I was lucky to have an amazing high school art teacher named Richard Doolittle.  After I spent a lot of time with design fundamentals and had a strong grasp of realism, we talked about subject matter and I began to break away into abstraction.  He offered much guidance which has always stayed with me including “less is more” and “learn the rules before you break them.”

Salvation – Acrylic and Pumice on Canvas – 36x36”

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?
I’ve been marketing myself and selling work all over the world via my comprehensive website for almost 15 years.  This has lead to many interesting things including filling the corridors of a luxury hotel in Manhattan with 206 of my 30x30” archival pigment prints, creating ten large pieces for a country club in Michigan, and having one of my pieces featured in a national M&M’s ad.  I also use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

Stallion – Acrylic and Pumice on Canvas – 40x40”

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

I enjoy seeing new work from the other non-objective painters from Rosalux:

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I enjoy the permanent collections of the Walker Art Center and M.I.A.   I also check out the shows at my cooperative Rosalux Gallery, as well as SooVAC

Scrubble – Acrylic and Pumice on Canvas – 40x40”

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

I keep up on the art world with Hyperallergenic and Artforum As for new artists, I like what Saatchi is doing with It’s a clean interface, and they do a good job with social media.  One of the curators asked me to participate in a 12x12” show promoting affordable work for the holidays.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I have a show called “An Archeology of Color” in the Inez Greenberg Gallery of the Bloomington Art Center from January 4th to February 15th, 2013. My studio at the Thorp Building will be open for Art-A-Whirl May 17-19, 2013. I’ll be exhibiting at Rosalux Gallery again in November 2013.

Shawn McNulty

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