Ambassador of the Week: Elena Shackleton

"Nature's Garland" has a special place in my heart. The barn is down the street from me and has always fascinated me. A month after finishing this work the owner spray painted it barn red! It broke my heart. It is an example of the vanishing beauty happening everywhere I want to capture before it fades.

Meet Elena Shackleton, this week’s top American Watercolor Weekly Ambassador!

“Nature’s Garland” has a special place in my heart. The barn is down the street from me and has always fascinated me. A month after finishing this work the owner spray painted it barn red! It broke my heart. It is an example of the vanishing beauty happening everywhere I want to capture before it fades.

Elena began her journey as an artist at an early age. She learned a love of painting and drawing, and was exposed to the teaching of many great artists and instructors from The Philadelphia Museum School, The Cape School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. There, she was exposed to artists of varied styles and methods.

Pivotal to her artistic development were the workshops Elena attended with Henry Hensche. His teaching solidified her color sense and an “Impressionist” eye for light. She went on to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with a concentration in painting and drawing. Her love of drawing and detail has lead to a distinctly realistic style.

“The Bait Shack” was painted en Plein Aire on the Little Lehigh. I like the mystery of the doorway and the dilapidated roof line of this spring house turned fly shop. I tried to capture the warmth of light on the face of the shack.

“Color, light and form excite me. My work has developed as an expression of the reality in the world around me. Through pigment and brush, I try to capture that world. I want to take you out of your place and transport you, even if it is simply to the view of a building, a cool clay pot of irises, or a sunbeam on a cracked and peeling surface. I want you to see the beauty in my vision in these people, places and things.

I believe great art makes the ordinary sublime by elevating everyday objects. Yes, you may see a doorway, but there is, in my mind, a threshold of color and light meeting and clashing that is reality in the representation. I have, from a young age, painted en plein aire which informed my understanding of nature and light. My training in impressionism has given me a keen understanding of color. The world teams with subject matter and atmospheric effects. I want to capture them all and to convey to the onlooker my unique view of the creation around us.”

This is a portrait of my daughter in complete distress. In that moment, as a mother I was moved, but as an artist I wanted to capture her anguish and the sense of being helpless and confined. I like how you are asking what is going on when you look at this. (It all turned out fine, by the way.)

 

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.

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