About The Artist

In The Beginning

I believe everyone is born an artist. Think about what kids do. They draw, paint, build, act, sing – you name it, they are creating it in one form or another. We are all still creators, but many of us have put our attention towards other things and left that little artist behind.

Shelley Hanna, artist, and PenelopeI knew from an early age that I was pretty good at art and I was lucky to get encouragement in that area. I was a very shy kid, so art was a “safe” way to get attention. This attention was focused on what I did rather than who I was so as to avoid the devastation of personal criticism. Growing up a redhead, you get your fair share of criticism.

Ahead Of My Time Or Behind The Times?

My path as an artist was through realism or representational art. This, unfortunately, was not popular when I was growing up (even though the movement started in the ’60s). The age of Modern Art still had the upper hand.

Realism wasn’t taught in college and the pressure was on to create in a style that I wasn’t truly passionate about. This left me floundering and eventually I gave up on fine art and pursued a career in design which ultimately has been very rewarding.

The Clemitus'

“The Clemitus'” – acrylic on canvas painted when I was 17

It’s Never Too Late

As I was building my career, I spent a couple of decades sporadically trying out various styles to make my art more “relevant”, but nothing I did ever seemed to feel right. There was one painting I did during that time that I really do love and that is of my grandfather, Harry Gillon (below). You can definitely see a Van Gogh influence here. I painted this from a very small black and white photo onto a giant 3’x4′ canvas. It still hangs in my living room today and is the first piece I would save if a tornado was coming.

Harry Gillon

“Harry”, acrylic on canvas. I really need to take a better photo.

At the end of 2016, both of my dogs had become very ill and I needed to stay home through the holidays to care for them. They have both sadly passed.

As a lifelong learner and obsessive YouTube watcher, I decided to focus on one subject for one month. That subject was art history. Strangely enough, art history bored me to death in school. However, watching these modern documentaries on various artists really awakened something within me.

Also, I discovered to my amazement that realism had made a comeback. How had I missed that? Now all of a sudden I was painting again. BUT, I felt like I was horribly behind. There was so much to learn.

For DECADES I had no passion for painting.

Zero.

Zippo.

Zilcho.

The discovery of artists creating realism around the world (via Instagram) made me realize I had to get the canvases out and brush up on my skills.

The Lake 900

One of my first paintings when I got started again. This painting is only 6″x6″.

The Power Of Starting Small

The other thing that helped me was coming across a group of daily painters. These people do small paintings. For them, it’s all about doing the work.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad, it’s all about getting going and creating. Because these works are small, you can do them more quickly.

As an artist, if you fail – which I recently did – it’s not a big deal. This takes the pressure off, makes the process fun and is great for learning new techniques.

It Really Is About The Little Things In Life

As they say, “it’s the little things in life that make us happy”. The cuddles from a beloved pet. The way your child looked in 7th grade. Your grandmother’s teacup. The lake where you spent summers as a teenager.

My purpose as an artist is to help people appreciate all those memories.

shell step by step

I got this shell in Pasadena, CA where my mom grew up. I visited the house she and my grandparents lived in and this shell is a great reminder of that trip. 6″x6″ acrylic on canvas.

Life gets busy and we don’t take time to stop and focus on what means the most to us like we used to. That’s why I create art – it helps us to remember the special things that create meaning in our lives.

Step-By-Step Tutorials

As I’ve continued to learn new things, I’ve been documenting and sharing my experience on this website. Not only do I have tutorials such as how to paint a dog in oil, but I also have digital tutorials showing how to paint. I use traditional painting techniques with my digital paintings, so regardless of the medium you should be able to follow along.

Let’s Stay In Touch

There is a signup form at the upper right side of the page if you would like to be “in-the-know” for future updates.

I’ll be sending out emails a couple of times a year with highlights from the studio. My goal is to open a shop showcasing available original work and prints for sale and also share painting tutorials.

Thanks for hanging out with me. Feel free to contact me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or YouTube or shoot me a message below: