Her childhood passions were growing, drawing and painting flowers. She majored in art and took many workshops and classes over the years, eventually turning her attention to painting full-time under the tutelage of her mentor, Len Chmiel. Shirley paints in oils using a wet-on-wet technique.
Shirley paints “en plein air” whenever possible either in her garden or on location when she travels. “What I try to do with paint is recreate the joy I experience in my subjects, the flowers I grow and the wildflowers in the mountain meadows”, says Shirley.
When not out of doors, she paints in her Colorado studio overlooking the San Juan Mountains or in her summer studio, aptly named “Poppy Cottage”.
Sometimes I think of myself as Shirley Poppy Seed. I love to harvest poppy seed, their seed pods are like a salt shaker and one of my childhood joys was shaking poppy seed out of their pods. I am still a child in this way, last year I harvested about three pounds of Shirley Poppy seeds, that is approximately three million seeds. I love to share my seeds with fellow gardeners.
As I am writing this it is late May and my first Shirley Poppies are bursting into bloom. The Iceland Poppies start their bloom in mid April and bloom best in cooler weather, but will bloom from April thru November. Deadheading is the necessary element in continuing their bloom for so many months.
I guess I have always been “garden mad” as the British say. As a child I loved to go to the nursery to buy plants and then bring them home, and create a flower bed and then water it to death. So painting flowers is just natural to my being. Color, intense and delicate color harmony, has always moved me emotionally. My love of flowers and love of color are the passions that drove me to be come a painter. Like Claude Monet said ” I perhaps owe it to flowers for having become a painter”. Since childhood the voice has been loud and clear telling me I must paint a flock of poppies.jpg (109074 bytes)
I painted regularly thru most of my youth and young adulthood, and less often during my daughter Natalie’s childhood. In the early 1990’s I could finally focus on my need to paint. I took several painting workshops and knew that I could become a professional if I worked persistently and patiently. This quote from Calvin Coolidge speaks to this…”Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”