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Rising Stars: Meet Shanta Horlander

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shanta Horlander.

Hi Shanta, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My love for art started in my early 20s when I had the good fortune of attending a year of University in Florence, Italy. While there, I took an Art History Course by an Italian professor who regularly showed us slides of art pieces, discussing them and their value and place in the art world. On weekends, I traveled to see these classic works in person. It was such a formative experience.

Then, while still traveling in Europe, I visited Munich for Oktoberfest. I left my friends at the Lowenbrau beer tent festivities to explore the city and happened upon the most fantastic modern art museum that completely changed my life and I fell in love with that abstract, modern aesthetic. As time went on, I returned to the States and fell into the 9 to 5 rat race, but my love for art and especially the modern, abstract art aesthetic, never left me.

As a way to survive the humdrum of a 40-hour-a-week job, I started painting. These paintings were just for me and were not particularly shared with others but were a sort of therapy for myself. Over the years, I would always go back to painting when the workaday world did not satisfy me. Later in my adult years when it became apparent and necessary that art be more a part of my life, I started a self-study of art techniques starting with watercolor.

I worked with this as my only medium for a handful of years and began showing in galleries and art shows and selling pieces. While I enjoyed this, it felt like a limited expression of what I really wanted to create and communicate. I wanted to paint bold and abstract paintings that hint at a universe beyond the day-to-day realities we are constantly confronted with.

So more recently, I began to work with acrylics and focus on abstract paintings where I finally feel like I am expressing how and what I intend to. I definitely believe in using accidents in painting to my advantage and often they can form the foundation or direction of the piece. I have always been resourceful and so also delving into mixed media helps me use this skill.

I no longer have an exact idea or picture in my mind of what a painting will look like before I start, and I am definitely not looking to reproduce an exact, “realistic” photo. I let the amazing photographers and artists of realism work their magic on that. Mine is more of an intuitive process and I let the aesthetic reveal itself as the painting unfolds.

I am so excited to see what my future paintings look like and I hope they reveal more to us about other possible dimensions and universes. I believe that this awarenesses of other (some would say more spiritual or higher) realities are what can ultimately help us and keep mankind sane and happy. Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The process for me, like many worthwhile endeavors, has been quite a challenge.

I have felt the pressure to work hard and make money to take care of myself and be “successful” financially. I have been challenged constantly by this middle-class mentality and I have had the illusion that working for a company owned by somebody else made me “safer” and that art was not a true profession anyway but just a good hobby.

Logically though, none of those things are true. I found myself in a pattern wherein I would get a job and feel the pressure to do a great job for my employer and to “prove” myself. I’d rise to the top of the “pile” and move into Executive and Management positions but then just find myself dissatisfied and feeling like I was not being true to myself and had a lack of purpose.

In addition, a few years ago, I started having a bit of trouble with my health which was quite expensive, and I felt forced into making immediate money to pay for my healthcare costs in addition to paying the other bills of daily life. This has had me feeling stuck and trapped once again in the “middle class” life of working for somebody else in the daily grind.

I have never been married or in a position to rely on or even share the burden of expenses with anybody else and I just didn’t believe I could make it “on my own” in my own business. I do not come from a family of business owners, so I am having to forge my own way with this. Honestly, as I am writing this, it seems apparent that this is really just the challenge of growing up and really being responsible for my life and my own financial well-being.

But perhaps the biggest challenge has been believing that I was not a good enough artist to be successful at it. I know many artists struggle with this, but I am learning to ignore that and carry on despite that line of reasoning. I did not go to a traditional art college but even artists who do have Art Degrees suffer from this invalidation of their own work. Even the “Masters” from the past struggled with this.

So, I continue to discipline myself to focus on the joy of creating and remind myself that without the beauty of art, life is not really worth living for anybody. Art is definitely a valuable, worthwhile endeavor not just for me, the artist, but for my community.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am an intuitive abstract artist.

My specialty is COLOR!! I am most proud of the fact that I have tried many types of art and have continued to find my own way and continued to find my own method of communicating despite what the “pros” and “critics” tell me I should do and produce to be a “good” and “successful” artist.

My art is a communication of happiness and is intended to make the viewer happy! Life on this planet and in our current society can be a struggle for sure. The media would have you think that is ALL that life is. But life is also amazing and wonderful!

And my art is meant to help the viewer remember and feel the happiness and beauty and joy of being alive right here and right now at this moment.

What do you think about luck?
I think luck is wonderful! I believe what people call “Luck” finds you working hard and being brave and honest enough to follow your own calling and truth.


  • 8×10 prints start as low as $48
  • original pieces range from $350 to $10,000
  • Commissioned work- price tbd

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