Sean-Michael Gettys is a 48 yo, HoH/disAbled, Queer/Pansexual, Transgender (FtM) artist working in non-acrylic mixed media. He lives with a complex set of medical diagnoses and congenital oddities, which impact his life in different ways that include periodic changes to his hearing, severe allergic reactions to many things that necessitates the frequent use of a respirator mask, and others that lead him to use mobility aids like a wheelchair or, for short trips in non-crowded areas, a walker.
This has directly impacted his art process as he no longer can work in acrylic or with most oil paints. He also can’t use turpentine or most thinners or cleansers, so his use of oil-based mediums has shifted so that there are never harsh chemicals or brushes needing to be cleaned. A happy side effect of this situation is that Gettys has delved into other mediums, and along the way developed his own unique process. He also has learned to mix many of his own colors and hand-dye, print or paint most of the papers and objects he collages into his work.
Gettys’s artwork is often painted and collaged on wood, as in “Proud Memories,” though he also uses other substrates. Many of his paintings have words from his poetry layered into them via collage, though they sometimes become obscured as the painting progresses. He started “Proud Memories” with a word in mind and began to use various mark-making tools in a sort of moving meditation, then added various layers of watercolor, poetry, collage, and the painting grew in spurts of additive and subtractive painting and mark-making from there. Finally, he added oil pastels, then scraped back through some areas, and then added cold beeswax mixed with sunflower oil and hand-mixed with eco-friendly pigments. Much of the process can be viewed on Gettys’s Instagram account at: @SMGettysArt.