I’m so glad you’re here! Thank you for stopping by.
I was blessed with artistic roots. My grandmother was a talented painter and my great aunt worked as a professional artist and illustrator. Her husband, my great uncle, spent his career as an industrial designer and dabbled in the abstract expressionism movement that was just coming alive.
My father began his engineering career as a draftsman and in retirement, discovered an affinity for watercolor. As a young child, I was always encouraged to paint and draw. I feel very fortunate to have been raised with a great reverence and value placed upon the arts, and especially to have access to the materials to try it myself. Art and writing were my two main hobbies as a child and I spent many hours writing and illustrating little storybooks.
As I grew into adulthood, I leaned into writing, studying communications at the University of Tampa. Over the next ten years I worked in various marketing and sales positions in the aviation field. Then, one ordinary day while driving to work, someone failed to yield at a traffic signal. This misfortune changed nearly everything, leaving me unable to work — much less function normally. Stuck at home and in terrible pain, boredom drew me to start painting a little here and there. If there is a silver lining to that car accident, it is painting. I spent hours reading as much as I could about history, technique and anything else I found interesting.
Painting releases that thing inside of me that longs to be freed. I take pride in my originality and the care I take in each picture. I love color – or the restraint of it. Since 2014, painting has become a part of my every day life, bringing me a great deal of joy and satisfaction. I paint every day using oil as my preferred medium, but I sometimes tap watercolor and acrylic for their own special qualities. Oil painting is my absolute joy though — From mixing color, the lush consistency of the paints, and even the smell of linseed — These things all gift me a very special kind feeling of privilege.
I have many other interests, beginning with people. I have a diverse group of friends that mean the world to me, and I love making new buddies! I’ve held my private pilot’s license since 2004 and find great inspiration in the sky. I’m drawn to feathers, and often paint them; an icon of the freedom and beauty of flight.
I also love books and reading, and spending time with loved ones — both two and four-legged. I am married to an active-duty USAF pilot and we have two beloved dogs, Stella and Badger Kingsley, and recently added Larry the Cat. I’m also quite girly, being an avid lover of clothes, fashion and beauty. And anything vintage? Oh my gosh.. YES!
In addition to the car accident, life has pitched some other health-related curve balls, in the form of two liver transplants (at ages twelve and twenty-eight) due to an autoimmune disorder. I’m sure you can understand why I’m an advocate of organ, tissue and eye donation and volunteer my time for the cause. I’m presently working on a top-secret project marrying my painting to organ donation awareness – I will keep you posted when I am able!
I am grateful to be alive and enjoy a very blessed life.
Julie DeStefano Shahen