Illuminating the Creative Spirit through the Symbol of the Circle
To enter the world of visual artist CJ Shelton is to experience a magical blend of nature, art and spirit. CJ’s beautiful studio and gallery with its mystical approach to living “life in the round” is a hidden gem nestled within the tranquil environment of the historic Alton Mill Arts Centre.
Visitors to Studio 206 consistently comment on it being a sensory oasis of peace and inspiration. Earthy mystical images of intertwined Celtic trees are mixed amongst luminous and colourful visionary works, fascinatingly complex mandala designs and dramatic white-on-black horse paintings, fondly referred to as the “Grace Collection”. With the scent of white sage burning, soft music and Shaw’s Creek tumbling right outside the enormous sunlit windows, all who enter respond to the welcoming atmosphere and CJ’s warm personality.
As CJ says, “Nature and its infinite wisdom is my number one inspiration. Most of my work is done in a format known as a “mandala” (which means circle) and features the circular or spiraling patterns found in nature. Nature’s cyclical ways, its geometry and the spirit underlying it, resonates on some level with all humans. I love exploring different qualities of light and dark as an expression of that spirit and its manifestation in the physical world – in the trees, the animals and the landscape itself. Many of my images are based on visions I see within my own soul, so my work often has a surreal or mystical feeling to it”.
Drawing since she could hold a pencil, CJ is a Sheridan College Illustration graduate whose professional career spanned 30 years in technical and commercial art. “I did mechanical drawings, then wall paper design and finally graphic design. I also freelanced doing architectural renderings. When I developed a severe repetitive stress injury to both hands and was told I would probably never paint or draw again, I was forced to take a few years off. Determined not to give up on my passion, I used the down-time to study psychology and spirituality. My own healing process eventually led me to the more expressive style of mandala art. Once I saw the restorative benefits of working ‘in the round’, my art underwent a huge shift. I then started drawing and painting again in earnest, only this time it was subject matter I really wanted to do. For the first time I began creating from the heart and soul. Soon after, I discovered the joy of teaching and how to share this magic with others”.
Now in her sixth year at the Alton Mill, CJ is expanding into reproducing her work on a variety of unique products under her studio’s name “Dancing Moon Designs”. CJ Shelton also offers a number of unique art experiences and self-development learning opportunities for small groups or 1-to-1. So whether it is purchasing an original art piece or reproduction, taking a relaxing and meditative mandala workshop, learning to “see with new eyes” during a drawing or painting session, or exploring your own spiritual and artistic journeys under CJ’s gentle mentorship, you too can experience the magic of letting the creative spirit and your own true self shine.
“I believe it is vitally important as an artist and a human to always be curious and discover what you are passionate about. When you have passion that is when dreams come true. I know … I am living my dream and my greatest joy is to be sharing it with others”.