Artist Spotlight Zoya Scholis

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Zoya Scholis

Painting Teaches Me How to Live

“If I just start painting intuitively and make choices along the way a story will unfold... "

"I think you are born an artist." says Zoya Scholis of San Jose. "If you choose try to reject that it has pretty dire consequences.”

Transformation is a recurrent theme in Zoya's life and art.  Early in life, her family divided and the artistic father she loved dearly returned to his native Equator.

 "We grew up poor. I didn't get to college until late. I waited tables and bar tended for years. In ’93 I got a BA in art and later a Teaching degree.  I taught elementary school for twelve years, in Spanish and English. I loved my students, but there wasn't enough support as a teacher. Now I have a husband who supports me, a real partnership. I paint a lot and teach Art part time."

Describing her own hero's journey as an artist, Zoya discusses her love of process painting and how making art with deliberate intention to see, allow and embrace the unexpected is a metaphor for her life process.

"When process painting," says Zoya with a twinkle in her eye. "I get lost in the enchanted forest. It can get scary. Over time, with commitment, I find my way. The Fairy God Mother sprinkles her fairy dust, there's grace, mystery... the most exciting part for me is the journey. Painting teaches me how to live; how to think and how to be in the world. My part is the commitment to the process with full attention. The rest is magic.

"It's a bit like improv. It’s about, 'how can I respond optimally to what is happening?' the process of making a painting is like the arch of a story. For me, painting realism is an exercise in focus, but it's much more exciting to process. It frees my ego. It's not just about me showing my skill. It's about what is happening in the interplay of mind and matter in this moment. it’s also possible to combine these aspects."

" If I just start painting intuitively and make choices along the way a story will unfold. My imagination is very accessible and, like lucid dreaming, when painting I'm not in normal consciousness," says Zoya intensely. "You hope that whichever way you go, it becomes something you care about. Often there are layers and layers. A layer of paint creates texture, depth and richness, the perfect metaphor for one’s personal history. All parts have to be accepted,  just like in life."

Although Zoya is best known for her abstracts, she also paints figures.

”They are not for sale, says Zoya, "they are for continuous dialogue and self reflection." She acknowledges that these figures teach her how to process the prosperity that has unfolded in her life.

“Coming from a poor family I care deeply about social justice issues so, even becoming “middle class’ has been an identity shift. Aging also presents it’s challenges in terms of identity (Zoya is 53). "I speak to all my paintings," says Zoya knowingly, and it is obvious that the paintings speak back to her in volumes, like characters in the drama of a life deeply lived.

Written by Renee McKe­nna

September, 2016­

Zoya's bio and link to her website