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By Toni Tronu
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T.J. Shelly is relatively new to The Shop at GreenHill. I came across his work in March and was immediately drawn to his color palette and nostalgic subject matter. A husband and a father of two, he is always on the move. T.J., like many other artists, struggles to find time to create. Despite his challenging schedule he has just released his newest series "Scattershot". 




T.J. Shelly began drawing before his first birthday. By the time he was four years old, he was using charcoal from the fireplace to cover everything with abstract shapes, from the foundation of his house to dead trees in the backyard. At 15 years old in 1987, he began a rigorous study of the lives, work, and techniques of the Masters, opting out of formal art education to concentrate on independent study and practice. Throughout most of his artistic career, T.J. has painted primarily abstract acrylic works. However, his current series, "Scattershot," is more representational and its subjects vary wildly.  

T.J. also has a series called "Piedmont Suite," which consists of landscape paintings.  These paintings are based on landscapes near the home that he and his wife built in rural Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, where they live with their two girls.  The paintings usually include an old structure such as a house or a shed that has been left to decay.  T.J. is fascinated by these hollowed-out structures that once contained so much movement and life.  He is also very interested in the natural world, enjoying North Carolina's beaches, mountains, and everything in between.  

In addition to being an artist and working two part-time jobs, T.J. is also a father and a husband.  He is the primary care-giver to his two young daughters, caring for them all day while his wife teaches.  Time to create is hard to come by.  In order to be a productive artist, he paints during small periods of time he steals throughout the day and often during the night.  This adds up to be just enough time to keep up a fruitful creative momentum.  

While he is taking care of his girls, he works out painting ideas and problems in his head so that he is ready to paint when the opportunities arrive, making the most of them.  It also helps that his studio is right next to where his girls play, allowing him to supervise them while he paints.  He can't afford the luxury of only painting when he can paint for a long period of time or when he's in the mood.  He takes advantage of every opportunity to paint, which has allowed him to be prolific despite juggling several demands on his time.


This series is called Scattershot because all subject matter will be fair game, from insects to still life to figures to landscapes.  For years, I've promised myself that I would get back to drawing but I'm so addicted to painting. This series will allow me to fulfill both needs. In this series, I have to draw into thick, wet acrylic paint in less than 20 minutes before it dries. This preserves the initial drawing as the predominant part of the painting regardless of how I manipulate the paint afterward. The paintings in this series will have a limited palette, which further emphasizes the linear quality of the initial drawing, but the colors are complex.  I also use small amounts of interference paint to add to the complexity of the color.  This series is truly eclectic.


To see more from T.J. check out his website here: