As you focus on painting diverse landscapes ranging from the East to the West, how did you learn to love these places?
Shanna’s Father worked for the Forest Service when she was growing up. They moved from Utah to Idaho, to Wyoming, to Delaware, to Iowa to San Francisco, and back to Utah. Her grandfather passed away before she was born, and her father stepped up to raise his little brothers who were close in age to Shanna. Her dad toting her grandfather’s fathers fly tying kit—their summers would be full of camping and fishing. Shanna describes how they went everywhere, from National forests since she was two years old to Gettysburg. Shanna studied figure painting in school, but when she began painting landscapes it was so natural to her that she shifted directions. Shanna and Kathryn met at the Art Fair Jackson Hole put on by the Art Association of Jackson Hole when they were both primarily painting in watercolor.
How did you find your way into painting as your career?
“I can’t imagine life without creating. My entire life has been about creating something.” Shanna used to be a very passionate seamstress. In 1992, she took her first water-color class living in Utah when she was 29. This class yielded an “aha moment” for Shanna. She says painting is “just a matter of how much work you are willing to put into it. Every person’s art and voice is important. What are you willing to do? If you love it, there really isn’t any other choice. Whatever you put in is what you get out.”
Shanna painted only in watercolor for 12 years. Thanks to galleries prodding her to paint oils, she tried using them in her work. She describes how it took a year to learn to paint edges in oil, holding on to the style and technique she mastered in watercolor. Shanna used to work a lot with glazes, however in the last couple years she has not used them as much in her work. She says, “Atmosphere and edge quality is everything.”
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
“My husband brings me coffee in bed, I answer all my emails, do all social media and anything else. Every morning, I facetime my granddaughters and eventually find my way into the studio.” Shanna’s husband grows orchids, and she shares that some of the orchids in “Marco’s Orchid Concerto” are 8-9 years old.
What makes you whole?
“Family makes me whole.” Shanna loves all her grandbabies—her family makes her whole. She goes on to describe how she loves art as much as her family. “I have a very spiritual and non-organized way of thinking. I know that this is what I am supposed to do, it is my way of communicating that is not of this energy. It is something different. I believe that many paintings are channeled from this special energy. A good painting has spirit and encompasses this energy.”
Why is the spirit of this show meaningful to you?
As a result of the combination of quarantine, a long hard winter, fear, politics, and ugliness that has been building in our country, Shanna started craving color, life, and happiness. “The flowers in this exhibition have just lifted my spirit in ways unexpected to me. Three of my pieces in the show are plein air.”
Shanna speaks about how the life cycle of flowers is amazing. “Flowers—They just bloom… the passage of the lilies in the field, they do what they do. They have so many different stages. They go away and then spring comes and all of a sudden, this color brings the world to life after the long cold—everybody staying in. My pallets are very tempered, but with these flowers, I was just enjoying color.” Shanna loves taking care of flowers in the summer because they make her happy and feel alive again.
To see Shanna’s work in While We Were Still…Flowers Bloomed, click here.