"It's what you don't see that creates the energy of the painting."
Sylvia A. Shanahan
Born and raised in northeast Ohio, Sylvia Shanahan graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Graphic Design/Illustration. Ohio is also where she enjoyed a successful career in marketing, advertising and sales at several nationally known consumer products companies.
Throughout her career though, she made time for her love of fine art--a love that started early in life through family outings to the Cleveland Museum of Art. “I would have started drawing earlier, but I was such an active child,” she jokes. “I never had the discipline to sit still. I could be found playing neighborhood baseball, climbing a tree or exploring the fields and ‘soon-to-be-built-on’ vacant lots in our area. My friends and I were always hunting for new places to discover ‘untouched’ nature.”
Shanahan believes that these childhood experiences evolved into an almost reverent love for landscape painting. Where she once scouted for natural vistas, she now explores new territory in color and technique. “My goal is to represent more than what is seen by the naked eye,” she states. “I manipulate and juxtapose color to create and evoke energy. There's something to be said about what you don't see, too. The time of day, the temperature, the wind, the fragrances, the musics, the noise, or lack of....even what I've been watching or listening to lately affects the creative process. Whether it's representational or expressionism, art becomes a time stamp of where I am.”
Her approach to painting was noticed by Magical Blend Magazine in the mid-90s where her painting, “The Soul Remembers” was featured. Since then her work has won several local awards in Ohio and Florida and has also shown in Vermont and Georgia. Her work can be seen at Woodfield Fine Art in St. Petersburg, FL, her home studio in Largo, FL. and online at Zatista and Saatchi Art. Recently, her painting "Ophelia's Pond Revisited" was selected to be included in the Samsung Frame TV and is consistently one of the top ten paintings selected by subscribers.
In 2020-2021, Shanahan was so moved by the horrors of Covid 19 that she volunteered her talents to Faces Not Numbers, a group of artists that painted portraits of pandemic victims in an attempt to help soothe the pain of those they left behind. The portraits were gratis except for postage. "I still get comments from recipients saying how much they love the portraits," she comments. "I painted over forty of them. Not only did it help hone my skills but started my love of volunteering."
When not painting, she writes about her sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, always true to her generation, life through a series of essays called "Boomer Stories." She's also an avid fan of history, art history, philosophy, and memoirs. As she explains, "It helps me find the common threads that keep us human."