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Conversations with Shannon Celia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon Celia.

Hi Shannon, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born in South Carolina, grew up with two siblings in small-town New England, playing in the woods and always near water. My grandparent’s house a block from the beach was my favorite way to spend the summer. The freedom to explore the outdoors for hours shaped my creative life and deep appreciation for nature.

I wrote poetry and music through college but while at Pepperdine, discovered a passion for painting in oil. The fascination to express myself with any kind of paint has lasted for over 20 years and lately, I’m creating on various surfaces with watercolor and mixed media. My newest series, “Breezy Botanicals,” grew from my love for backyard gardening and my trio of kooky chickens.

After three solo museum exhibits in five years, multiple other group and solo shows, four public art projects in Southern California and Oregon, 14 awards and two art residencies, I’m enjoying painting in the solitude of my home studio and gallery now and experimenting in new ways of painting.

I love visiting and creating with pals at my local garden club and various local and national art associations I belong to.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Like most all creatives I’ve ever met, I’ve faced frustration and various disappointments along with way, but I’ve so enjoyed my art journey beginning as a young child with songwriting, acting and then discovering a deep passion for painting. The best advice I could give now but didn’t receive as a young person is to find a caring mentor who has traveled some of the roads you’re interested in experiencing. This can save you years of missteps but we all have to make our own mistakes too! One of mine was fueled by my insatiable curiosity which caused me to want to paint everything in every way instead of focusing on a few things at first to master them.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I started painting what I called the “Gritty with the Pretty” out of my love for living in a small town. Growing up in one and then living in Hanover NH, where my love for old architecture blossomed as I painted old cupolas, bridges and churches. After going to school at Pepperdine in Malibu and years later moving to a little beach neighborhood in Oxnard, I began painting the light I saw bouncing off lifeguard towers, oil rigs, old boats and hundred-year-old bridges. This interest in vintage details, community landmarks and creative solitude led to my focusing on large series, an art residency at Channel Islands Maritime Museum, being hired for my first two public art projects and then a large solo exhibit at the Santa Paula Art Museum. I also won my first award many years ago with a palm tree painting and I’m still painting them! I don’t spend time thinking about what I may have achieved because I’m always thinking about the next thing I’m interested in painting or learning about but I guess I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve encouraged other creatives along the way including mentoring young people. One thing that may set me apart is that I’m inspired daily. I’ve never been bored a day of my life nor had any kind of creative block so I paint most days. If I need a little break, I spend time with my family and my 6 lb terrier or read, cook, hike and garden!

How do you define success?
Work success to me is about showing up at the easel consistently and continuing to grow as an artist. I also define my work success by making a living as an artist and being grateful daily that I get to create what I want when I want. I deeply appreciate people collecting my paintings and it’s an honor and thrill to have work hanging on people’s walls and on home decor items such as cards, bags, calendars and clothes. I can’t imagine being as happy as I am artistically without the encouragement of my husband of 30-plus years. While creating in solitude is something I have done my whole life and crave almost daily, it’s my faith, family life and lifelong best friends that truly define life’s success for me.

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