Thursday, July 18, 2013

WildHeart Art's ~Artist of The Month~ "Shelly Penko" Candid Interview!

 WildHeart Art's
~Artist  of The Month~
"Shelly Penko"

1)    Have you always been creative and had a desire to be an artist?

As soon as I was old enough to hold a crayon, I knew I wanted to be an artist.  My mom has always been very artistic, a fabulous painter, so it was something we did together.  My poor mom…I used to have fits when I couldn’t make my paintings look how I wanted!  I had the vision, but not the skills.  Now I have more skills and I’m much more open to letting paintings evolve rather than insisting they fit a predetermined vision.  I’ve learned that painting is much more fun when approached that way!

1)   What are your most favorite mediums to work with?

I love acrylics, water mixable oils, and I’m just learning Adobe Illustrator.  I love all of them for different reasons.

Acrylics are fabulous because they are very immediate.  They dry quickly and because of that, multiple layers are possible and add so much mystery, history and spontaneity to the process.  Acrylics are the perfect medium for intuitive, playful and experimental painting. 

Water mixable oils are wonderful too.  They dry faster than regular oils, but much slower than acrylics. That extra time allows for beautiful blending and soft edges that are difficult to achieve in acrylic.  I love that they don’t require turpentine to clean up and have very low odor.

My latest love is Adobe Illustrator.  I’ve only just begun and am a complete newbie, but I love all that is possible with this program!  It combines two things I love, computers and art!  I’ve just learned to scan in drawings and turn them into vectors so I can work with them.  What a blast!  What I love the most is how you can take one drawing and do so many different things with it, like changing the colors, resizing, changing direction and so much more. I’m finding it very challenging, but I think I’m going to love it!

2)    Do you have other artists in particular, that inspire you and if so who and why.

I have always loved Picasso, Matisse and Chagall.  Picasso and Matisse were so original.  They weren’t tied to a specific style, but rather tried new things their entire lives.  Yet somehow, their style shines through in everything they did, from cubism to paper cuts.  I love how they used color and created images that didn’t have a lot of shading, but were defined by color and composition.  I’m always fighting with myself to not paint realistically, to not add so many shadows and highlights.  In some ways, it’s like unlearning years of art school.  But isn’t that one of the fantastic things about making art?  We’re never through!  Wonderful discoveries await in each new project!

Chagall has always been a favorite because his art has a gentleness and happiness that is rarely seen in art.  So much of the “famous” art is about the harshness of the world.  I love that Chagall was not afraid to be romantic and whimsical. 

3)    Do you have a favorite piece of artwork that you have created and if so, why is it your favorite?

Figure 1 Bohemian Beauty
Acrylic on Canvas - 24x30"
© 2013 Shelly Penko
My latest piece is almost always my favorite! My newest painting is called Bohemian Beauty.  It’s full of colors and layers and marks.  It’s a fun mixture of vibrant, busy colors and patterns contrasted with a calm, peaceful subject.  And of course, my little black Chihuahua appeared even though I intended to paint a generic doggy!

Figure 2 Journey of Sisterhood
Acrylic on canvas - 24x36"
© 2012 Shelly Penko

My other favorite piece is called Journey of Sisterhood.  It’s a favorite because it seems to touch a lot of people.  I love that that almost all the people who have purchased prints of this piece have told me moving stories about what it means to them.  (Almost everyone says, “I’m the one looking up at the sky, my head in the clouds!”)  The fact that people see themselves and their special relationships in it brings me such satisfaction.  I painted it to honor all the women in my life who have helped me in the last year as I struggle to survive divorce and starting over in my life.  It is a special piece to me and I love that others find meaning in it as well. 

4)    If you could sum up your style in one paragraph what would it be?

I think most of my art is about the beauty of life.  Sometimes it’s a bittersweet beauty, but like Chagall, I tend to focus on the wonder, the love, the sweetness. I may paint something recognizable or something abstract, but always there is an emotion underneath.  I use color with abandon and most of my work is very vibrant.  I love to paint both people and animals and one of my favorite subjects is women with their dogs.  My dogs are such a joy in my life and always have been, so I guess it’s natural that they show up in my work.

 5)    Where is your favorite spot to create your artwork?

I usually paint in my “studio” which is really just a bedroom in my house that I’ve set up with all my art and easels.  I think wherever we paint; we should call it our studio…whether it’s a corner in the dining room, the patio or the garage!  To call our creative space a studio, no matter how small, is part of honoring what we do as artists.

6)    What is your favorite color palette to work with?

It depends on the week!  Lately I can’t seem to stop myself from putting hot pink and orange side by side, but I always love blue and turquoise too.  Turquoise is probably my favorite color of all time!
7)    Do you have some favorite products you like to use when creating?

I love Golden fluid acrylics.  They are so vibrant and intensely pigmented.  I can achieve effects with Golden that just aren't possible with other paints. 

8)    Was there any one person who was a major influence for you while growing up and throughout your creative “art journey”?

My mom has always been a huge influence and inspiration in my life.  She is a talented artist and instilled in me an appreciation of all things beautiful, a positive attitude, and a belief in myself that I could do anything I put my mind to.  I know not everyone has that kind of support, and I’m thankful that I am so blessed!

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful artwork  Shelly and a little bit about yourself!!

 Feel free to visit Shelly and her beautiful artwork at any of these links!


  1. Fun interview! It is always nice to get to "know" the artists!

  2. Awesome interview with Shelly. She's a wonderful artist. I love her artwork. Well done.