Express Yourself

Nags Head, N.C. - One source of inspiration!

Nags Head, N.C. - One source of inspiration!

Discovering Your Own Creativity

I am intrigued by the many different ways people express their creativity. Whether it be cooking, writing, woodworking, poetry, metalwork, housekeeping, landscaping - the list goes on and on, and is truly unending. There are as many forms of creativity as there are individuals!

My friend Hope Hilton teaches classes on creativity at the KAArtist shop in downtown Athens, Ga, where I am teaching a silk painting class in April. Her classes have titles like Creativity Takes Courage and Creative Journaling. Creativity can be what gets us up in the morning; it can be what sees us through our tough times, illuminating the joy in everyday experiences that might otherwise slide right by without our taking notice. Creativity for me is a never-ending source of ideas, inspiration, and fun, and Hope’s classes are amazing because she helps everyone unveil their own sources of creativity!

I am excited to join Hope in this endeavor by offering my silk painting class at KAArtist on Saturday, April 9th from 1-4 p.m. There we can work together to explore color and line and silk and beauty, and you can see what other creative opportunities Kristen Ashley (of KAArtist!) has cooked up for us.

During our time in class, we will see how others have approached painting on silk and discuss how your unique approach to life - and creativity - will help you create a stunning silk painting of your own. 

Why is expressing yourself important? I believe we all have an inner vision to share with the rest of the world. We can begin to discover that vision by expressing it through our own unique talents. Come explore with me to discover how you can share those talents!

What is your favorite creative outlet? Hit 'reply' and let me know. Let’s begin a discussion on what makes your heart sing.



Silk Painting with René Shoemaker
KA Artist Shop
127 N. Jackson St.
 Athens, GA


Peggy was very happy with her new silk painting!  Columbus State University 2015

Peggy was very happy with her new silk painting! Columbus State University 2015

René Art is now on exhibit:
Discovering the Chattahoochee Valley:
Silk paintings by René Shoemaker

The Columbus Museum, Columbus, Ga through July 2016


Paris - Wooden Steps

image In our building in Paris the top turn of the wooden stairway was so beautifully worn, so beautifully hand made, so varnished by so many feet over so many years, that I was struck by the glistening patina every time I walked the 4 floors to our apartment.

The design of the steps were pieced together and created an almost abstract design that I felt compelled to document and share with you.

[New art exhibit going up at Aurum in downtown Athens, Ga for the month of February. I am sharing the space with the fabulous textile artist Suzanne Gernandt of North Carolina. Reception: Thursday, Feb 6, 6-8 pm]


Steps . Rue Campagne Premiere . Paris . 14th - hand painted silk broadcloth - by Rene Shoemaker - 2013

Visions of France

image When we left Paris, we began driving southeast in the car we had outfitted with a mattress and cooking supplies. I was so happy to be on the road again after the month in the city - breathing fresh air, seeing space, blue skies and fields. Spent the night at Troyes, in the Aube Department. That night we had sheep bahhing us to sleep. We definitely were not in the city anymore!

[New art exhibit going up at Aurum in downtown Athens, Ga for the month of February! I am sharing the space with the fabulous textile artist Suzanne Gernandt of North Carolina. Reception: Thursday, Feb 6, 6-8 pm]


On the Road Again - hand painted silk twill - by Rene Shoemaker - 2013

Athens, Ga

I love New Year’s almost as much as I love birthdays. That’s A LOT - if you know me, you know what I’m talking about! For the month of January I’ll have a number of New Year’s related blog posts, and for this one I wanted to share these words from my favorite editor-about-town, Pete McCommons. His weekly newspaper, the Flagpole, is my go-to for anything Athens related. As we began 2012, I was struck by his eloquence in describing how I feel about Athens and why I am so happy to live here. Here is what Pete has to say; I hope you enjoy it, too.

Happy New Year!

We’ve got a really good state university; we’ve got a really good public school system; we’ve got special assets like our extensive and well known music scene; we’ve got attractive architecture and liveable, walkable, bikable, drivable neighborhoods; we’ve got an affordable cost of living; we’ve got a beautiful natural environment nestled among hills and rivers with a moderate climate (okay–not in August); we have an interesting downtown; our suburbs are within easy reach; in addition to the music, we have lots of activity in the arts: theater, painting, writing, cinema, pottery; we’ve got a good bus system; we’ve got sports; we’re a short drive to the mountains and a not-as-short drive to the ocean; we can fly out of Atlanta but don’t have to live there.

Athens is not perfect, but we’ve got a lot going for us. Let’s make this new year the time when we really focus on understanding how to bring in the kinds of businesses that want to live in our kind of town and that will contribute to strengthening Athens without messing it up. Let’s also take a good, close look at how we can enhance what we have. We can insist that our economic development people understand what we have here and learn how to add to it, instead of chasing phantom industries that aren’t coming and wouldn’t fit.

Even if we can’t control what the university pays its custodial workers and graduate assistants, we can document what kind of impact those wage scales have here. We can also take a look at our local government and make sure it is not a part of the poorly paid job problem.

Let’s make this the year that we devise even better coordination and knowledge among the projects and agencies that are trying to ameliorate our endemic poverty. Let’s be sure our local government, our university and our state government are drawn even more closely into a focused examination of poverty here. There are many reasons for poverty in Athens, and the big one is that our county presently and historically offers jobs not available in the surrounding counties and also public housing and other forms of assistance not available in the outlying areas.

This is our big challenge in the new year: to find ways to extend our quality of life to those who are left out, while enhancing our community to realize that we all gain from lifting up our lowest members. We have had setbacks recently and in the past, but we must persevere, because we are all in this community together, and we are interdependent, whether we realize it or not. Let’s resolve to give special, local meaning to the salutation, “Happy New Year!”

Pete McCommons

                                                 ”College Ave. & Clayton St., Downtown Athens, Ga”
                                                   painting on silk by Rene Shoemaker

Creating a New Project – An Animal Alphabet

This week, I wanted to share a new project with you. Though I’ve been working on it for a while, it’s a little different from my normal style! It’s been so much fun to branch out, though facing a new set of challenges can be daunting, too. Of course, that makes success feel all the better!

I had already been thinking a little about experimenting with screenprinting when my friend Lisa Fiscus approached me about developing a product for children. Lisa has created an amazing space in the Hawthorne House - it is equal parts fine decor boutique, interior design headquarters, and inspiration central! In addition to running her interior design services out of the building, she also offers a great selection of antique furniture, contemporary furnishings, and local art in the renovated showrooms. As the house was originally designed by Athens architect Fred Orr, we met when I was hard at work on the Orr2 exhibit that was held in the Circle Gallery in April 2009. For many of his buildings still standing in the Athens area, I created a silk piece highlighting a particularly interesting aspect of the design. In the case of the Hawthorne House, it was so amazing that I sketched the entire thing for my silk piece! Here it is:                        

Lisa recently decided to expand her offerings to include decor for children’s rooms. Though the shop carried some of my silk pieces, she asked if I might be interested in designing an animal alphabet. Her idea was to display a prototype in one of the vignettes that she would be setting up around the store in preparation for the big annual party. 

Since we wanted to develop a set of letters that could be used in any combination and in many different formats - on a pillow, as a wall hanging, even on pajamas! - we decided to choose a few to display on individual squares of fabric. After much discussion, we eventually chose a cotton muslin in a light cream color. 

As for the pictures - well! The alphabet is so long, and there are so many animals to choose from! Studying dictionaries, encyclopedias, children’s books, talking to friends and family – I tried everything I could think of to come up with designs of animals that were unusual, recognizable, and aesthetically pleasing. Some letters were especially tough, like X and V and N, but my favorites were the elephant: 

 and the fox:

Finalizing my decisions and making the sketches was a lot of fun, but when it came time to print, I had a lot to learn! Though I silkscreened a couple of times in college classes, the details had to be worked out on my own this time. What kind of inks work best? What consistency is most effective? What’s the best way to blend colors? As each order would be unique, I wanted to offer customized colors, but I also wanted to be able to reliably reproduce colors. Watching someone create a silkscreened print, it looks so easy - but I worried about every step of the process!



It’s important to do a series of prints when silk-screening, as you never quite know which ‘pull’ is going to be the best. You don’t just make one, as I do with my silk paintings – and you have the opportunity to print on different cloths in the same series to see how the ink and design and fabric all work together. One thing I continue to be amazed at is that when silkscreening on a heavily textured cloth, the ink does not move down into the ridges and valleys of the cloth the way my silk dyes do – so the image left on the cloth is textured too, rather than being crisp and saturated. Smoother fabrics seem to take the print better – but I would love to figure out a way to achieve a crisp print on textured fabric! 

For the prototype that is still on display at the Hawthorne House, I decided to spell out the name of Lisa’s son. After much trial and error, and lots of repositioning, I completed the sample and hung it on the wall over a beautiful antique bed next to a giant lamp made from Hable Construction fabric. The vignette looks great! I’m so excited about this new direction that my work is taking, and I am pleased to have finally mastered this versatile skill. Though I’m still stuck on X and V and N, if you have any suggestions, let me know!!