About Shannon

 

I am at my most compulsive when painting a face - I cannot walk away from it until I feel like it is looking back at me with a personality of its own.  The human face has an endless ability to express itself, and I love bringing that expression to life on the canvas. Many of my paintings started with a lucky photograph that captured a person in a moment with interesting, or perhaps muddled, emotions. Sometimes I go on the hunt for moments like this. I've actually been known to follow people around in museums, taking pictures of them admiring the exhibit, instead of the exhibit itself.

My paintings sometimes take months, but usually years, to make.  I toy with the image in my mind for ages, sometimes adding slight surrealism. When I feel committed to the image, I plan it out layer by layer - first in my mind, then on the computer, and then I use a projector to map it out on the canvas. After that, I start painting, and the computer and projector are put away. Since I work with oils, which take at least a week to dry, I can spend an entire day blending and nudging the paints to capture a facial expression. I'll let that portion dry thoroughly before I move on to the next, so they don't mix together as I start a new layer.

My training began early with my fascination with human expressions and a palette knife painting class that I took in elementary school - with my father on weekends.  Eventually, I would take a drawing class in high school, and that was it. I went on to develop my fascination with humans and their emotions in another way, by becoming a psychiatrist. But I could never stopped painting.

I believe that emotions are universal, but how we convey them is unique and personal. As we study someone else's face, with our own experience in mind, their emotions can seem familiar and foreign to us at the same time. As a psychiatrist, I get the opportunity to study faces and guess at how people are feeling all day. It never seems to bore me, and I hope to share this endeavor with those who view my paintings as well.