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Jason Shonk is an an artist who revels in detail. This is especially amazing when you consider that his medium of choice are pastels, which is a difficult pigment to corral. Corral them he does, however! A master of beautiful, sweeping scenery, Jason mixes magic and color generously across the canvas, and a gorgeous result unfolds. While Jason is especially keen to western scenery, he is also drawn to the rolling curve side of a beautiful woman. SSBBWs reign supreme in his stunning work, and they don't hide like shy violets, but blossom forth in glorious color!
He sums up his feelings about creating Phat Beauties nicely when he says, "I'm grateful that I can use my artwork not only to be viewed with enjoyment, but also to help women who are struggling with self esteem issues. I hope that my art can somehow help encourage them to look at themselves differently and to give in to the hateful demands of society. I feel honored that I can be a part of the plus size community. Hopefully, whatever I do, it will make a difference for somebody!"
We shared some of Jason Shonk's Phat Beauties in September, and we were lucky enough to nab some time with him this month and ask him a few questions:
Toni: First of all, thank you so much for virtually sitting down with me! What started your "Phat Beauties" pieces?
Jason: Phat Beauties started out as a concept for a plus size calendar that I had wanted to do a few years ago.I wanted it to be a plus size version of the Sports Illustrated calendar, but with the larger woman. It would have allowed me to approach a series of subjects that was close to my passion.
One, it would allow me to get back to illustrating the human figure and portraiture, that was being neglected on my part at that time. And my love for the plus size woman. I had not had the opportunity to use the plus size form as a subject matter, so this would allow me to expand my artistic abilities. It would also allow me to illustrate the average plus size woman that she can be, and certainly is, just as beautiful as there slimmer counterparts. I felt this was an unique way not only to show my appreciation for them, but to help them to see themselves differently, in a format that I feel that hasn't been explored.
Toni: What mediums have you worked in and what's your favorite?
Jason: Whenever I drew a portrait of the human figure, it was using a HB drafting pencil.That was my pencil of choice when it came to my drawings, due to the fact it would allow me to obtain all of the value gradations without the use of several other pencils.
When I decided to do the pin ups, it was decided that they should be in color, something that I never did in my past renderings. I felt that doing them in B/W would not give them the depth and character that they needed. Working in color, whether it be in oil paint that I use for my landscape subject matter, or my past attempts to experiment with other mediums, has either fascinated me or totally frustrated me! It is something I'm still learning to understand, even after I have been painting for the last 25 years!
I decided to use pastel pencils. I thought they would allow me to blend color faster than any other medium. They also allowed me to transition over to color from B/W easier. I felt using the standard colored pencil would take to long to illustrate due to the fact of the multiple layering that was required of them. It would have slowed my production time to finish a drawing. I also thought the pastel would give a softer tone to the skin values, that was crucial to the drawing.
The use of pastel also allowed me to combine my usage of the graphite pencil, which I use to enhance some of the facial features. This is something I could not have done with colored pencils, because of the wax base content in them.
Toni: What inspires you creatively?
Jason: My creativity comes from people, situations or the environment that I find myself in, or just random ideas and thoughts that come to me. I seem to be at my most creative at night.I have always been something of a night owl, and that is when my mind comes alive with all of these ideas! I can actually loose sleep because of the constant streaming of ideas through my mind! I'll then pull out my sketch book and start doing quick renderings of my ideas, and use them as reference for future drawings. Sometimes a drawing that I'm currently working on, will influence other ideas for other drawings.
I have learned not to try to force creativity but to allow it to flourish on it's own. I believe some of my better ideas come from this allowance.
Toni: Do you have a favorite piece?
Jason: That is very difficult to chose what is my favorite piece. It seems like every time I finish a drawing, I always seem to say that is my favorite! I put out so much time and effort with each one, I try to make them comparable in quality to each other. If I had to chose, allow me to pick at least 3 of my drawings and I'll explain as to why I picked them as my favorites.
One of my favorites is a pin up that I drew earlier this year, titled, 'April Showers'. I love the softness and sweetness that radiates from the pin up. Her beautiful face, the clothes that I drew on her, and the umbrella that she is holding, gives her a sense of of a carefree spirit, in an otherwise rainy atmosphere. This where I started doing clothing textiles, such as the lacey blouse and the decorative stockings, which to my relief, turned out pretty good, with the raised hemline of the mini skirt that I drew on her.
Another drawing is the newest one,'Beach Babes'(note: see banner image) I love the playfulness and joy that omits from each of the models. This was intended to be a triptych, with 11 pin ups posing on the beach. But due to scanning limitations, I kept the beach gathering to only 5 beach bunnies!
As for my third choice, it would have to be one of the first ones that I drew, called 'Desire'. This is the drawing that I felt that I had become comfortable with my subject matter and the handling of my chosen mediums. I started to use SSBBW's as my pin ups, which have become to dominate most of my drawings.This is also the drawing that i started doing more daring clothing articles on them props for the backgrounds, that eventually lead to more elaborate backgrounds! This is also where I became more detailed in skin tones and textures, hence the textured, plump thighs of the pin up! I think it still holds up well since I drew her almost 3 years ago.
Toni: Is there a particular theme that draws you more often than others?
Jason: I seem to gravitate to the image of the pin up applying make-up, for example, my drawing,'The Perfect Red'. For me, that is very feminine, something that all women can relate too. That image can be very sensual or playful, depending on the facial expression of the model, or the surroundings that they are drawn in.
If I wanted to make them more playful,or even somewhat comical, I can have them applying make -up as they are sitting on a pile of luggage, with the car overheating in the background, in the middle of a desert. You know, something that you see everyday!
If I wanted to make it more sensual, for example, I would draw them applying their make-up, sitting on a window seat, with the morning sun bathing them, possibly a mirror nearby, reflecting their image, so that you can appreciate their beauty from all angles. I have found myself revisiting this image countless times, and even have one currently sketched up to finish in the near future.
Toni: Can you tell us about some of the projects you have going on right now, both SSBBW related and non?
Jason: Right now I have 3 pin up drawings I'm working on to be posted in the course of following month. I also have commissions that I'm working on for customers to be finished up in the next few weeks. I try to work a month ahead, so that I'm not rushed and so that the quality isn't diminished.
I would like to do a series of portraits of popular plus size models. I wanted to get back to a B/W style that I have not done in over a year. My last portrait was of model, Tess Holliday, that was given to her as a gift.
I would like to get back to my painting. My other subject matter is that of the American Southwest. Totally opposite of my pin up subject matter! I haven't done a painting in about 4 years since I started doing pin up art. Right now, I'm looking for a way to balance both, time permitting. Next year, I would like to open a new page, in addition to my Phat Beauties page, solely for my landscape paintings.
Toni: Is there a place we can purchase your work, and do you accept commissions?
Jason: Currently I'm working on an online store to be linked to the Phat Beauties page. This would allow people to buy prints of selected works. I'm also inquiring about selling additional merchandise to be sold along with the prints.It should be launched before the holidays. Right now, you may message me through Phat Beauties concerning purchase of a print. I offer the choice of a paper or canvas version of a print. Each print is 16x20 with the pricing of a paper print of $45.00 or $65.00 for a canvas print.
Toni: Is there anything you hope to convey to the viewer through your artwork?
Jason: If there is anything more important that should be interpreted from my artwork, is that beauty has no size limits. We live in a culture that has a very narrow minded perception of beauty standards. We are led to believe anything beyond what society deems beautiful, is to be scorned and mocked. Many women feel prey to this discrimination, and suffer greatly with a feeling of abandonment and rejection. I hope that many women of size, that sees my work, is given a sense of affirmation that they are beautiful. Whether they are mid-sized,BBW or SSBBW, they are revered for their beauty and not told otherwise from a society that constantly tells them they are not worthy to love or to be loved because of their size.
Thank you Jason, for sharing with us. I encourage all of our readers to support his work by following his facebook page : "Phat beauties by Jason Shonk".
Written by: Toni Crane
A Pittance of Time
On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a Shoppers Drug Mart store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the store's PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.
Terry was impressed with the store's leadership role in adopting the Legion's "two minutes of silence" initiative. He felt that the store's contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.
When eleven o'clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the "two minutes of silence" to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.
Terry's anger towards the father for trying to engage the store's clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was later channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, "A Pittance of Time". Terry later recorded "A Pittance of Time" and included it on his full-length music CD, "The Power of the Dream".
In the interest of creating a greater awareness of the sacrifices that have been made and are still being made on our behalf, "A Pittance of Time" has been adapted to the French language and titled "C'est si peu de temps". Music videos for both audio tracks were also produced in support of the campaign.
For more information on Terry Kelly and his work, please visit him at www.terry-kelly.com
Watch his song to remember our veterans by and a reminder to those who forget their importance.
"The hero dead cannot expire:
"My mother is such a lousy cook that Thanksgiving at her house is a time of sorrow."