Saturday, April 9, 2016

Shelley's Year of Affirmations

Those who followed my lovely and talented sister on Instagram in 2015 (@turleyshelley) or on Facebook may have seen her densely layered yet exuberant daily affirmations--small watercolors of hippie freaks, boundary crossers, truth seekers, paper figures in need of consciousness raising paired with often deliberately prosaic inspirational quotes. The project, which kicked off on Thanksgiving Day 2014, ended on Thanksgiving Day 2015. I interviewed Shelley about her year of affirmations on New Year's Day 2016. I'm finally posting the interview four days after Shelley's 50th birthday. I'm very lucky to be related to someone so talented and interesting. I mean, just look at Shelley's painting below:

This interview took place in the fabulous Rose Establishment in fashionable downtown Salt Lake City.

How did this project get started?

I had all of these paper figures from other projects, paper dolls in bins. I wanted to do something with them. So I made cards. And then I thought, what if I posted the cards as daily affirmations? Posting a drawing a day is a thing some artists do. But I thought it would be more interesting as a project if there was a theme. 

What was the theme inspired by?

I had seen these affirmations--the text I used for each daily art piece--in a book. And they seemed to be connected to my work, which  has always been about the evolving spirituality of middle-class white Americans, and how spirituality inserts itself into mainstream American culture.

How did you start it logistically?

I started off the first da with a surplus of about 30 figures. And then once I ran out, I had to churn them out, often several days ahead of schedule. It felt good to have art be a grind, sometimes. I needed to just produce. It was beneficial for the project to really feel like work. It took the anxiety and preciousness out of art making. 

Tell me more about where the text for each day came from? 

I gathered some from affirmations from Pinterest actually. I tried to use text already in circulation. Then I started making up my own. 

What kind of feedback did you get?

People told me how much they looked forward to them. My friend said she had a really hard year and these affirmations really helped her. I felt like if I was putting this out there, I wanted to take it seriously myself. 

What's next?

I really want to do some paintings. Some of the ideas I generated over the past year, I'd like to make a lot larger. I feel like I have a big sketchbook now.

To see her affirmations (as I wasn't able to download any for this post), find Shelley on Instagram @turleyshelley and scroll back!


  1. I love this idea. Can't wait to see more on Instagram.

  2. I love this idea. Can't wait to see more on Instagram.

  3. when i was visiting dave, i got to live with a couple of shelley's paintings for a few days. she's one of my fave painters of all time.