You are never too old to follow a dream. Meet Shannon Fannin (Shan), a realistic vehicle painter. At the age of forty-four, Shan decided to pursue her dream of returning to art. That gave her purpose. Art has always been a part of who Shan is. She has been pursuing her dream just shy of four years now. The artist is constantly telling folks that we are NEVER too old to pick up a new path in life. Read our interview with the artist below, and you will notice that she takes the inspiration to a whole new level.
Is art something that you do full time now? What are your goals for your art? What inspires you to do what you do?
I have been a full time, professional artist for almost four years now and have a home studio. Our only child just moved out on his own, so my life is focused on my husband of 28 years, painting, half marathon training, and occasionally writing.
My personal goal is to change the perception that we have about women in art. Our culture has had the idea that female creatives are delicate and demur. This couldn’t be farther from reality today. Women artists (in all fields of creativity) have a strong voice and making a mark on history by producing phenomenal work. So many contemporary female artists I admire have raised families, served in the military, had their own business, and/or worked in the corporate world.
They have started a new chapter in their lives as artists, and I marvel at their determination and success. I respect their vision and want to follow in their footsteps. As my subjects are mechanical, my viewers are often surprised to learn I am a woman. I like changing their thinking. Gender and age don’t determine what art is created. A deep need for creative expression guides us. I say create what brings you joy and gives the world a glimpse into who you truly are.
I am inspired by the car/motorcycle owners I meet. Everyone has a story about their car or motorcycle and is happy to share. This is true no matter where I go in the world to take reference photographs. People tell me about their first car, the motorcycle rebuild they did with their dad, and their dreams of one day owning a certain vehicle. For many, a vehicle is a family member. It has taken them on their first date, on vacations, to the hospital for the birth of their child, or has been in their family for several generations. I love that about vehicles. We all have fond memories and stories, and that brings us a little closer to one another.
How long did it take you to master your craft?
I don’t believe that an artist can ever truly master a craft. We are always learning, and always evolving. I’m sure even great artists throughout history have looked at their previous works and thought: “I wish I hadn’t done that there. What was I thinking? I really should recreate this piece.” Personally, I feel that I am a kindergartener in the art world. I have just gotten a glimpse of my creativity and eagerly look to the rest of my life to learn all I can. The possibilities are endless.
What has been the happiest moment in your career so far? The saddest moment?
The happiest moment was when I had a painting seen at Austin Bergstrom International Airport by a traveler, and they offered me my first solo exhibition during Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2016 (one of the largest car shows in the country). I learned so much from that experience. It showed me that I had a future as a professional artist and that my work brought joy.
The saddest moment was just a few weeks ago. One of my career goals was within grasp and then postponed. I was approached about having my work represented, and after several correspondences were exchanged, we agreed on quite a few of my paintings. I awaited their contract but heard nothing for a week. I called only to be told that they realized I was an acrylic painter, and they only represented oil painters. There was nothing I could do to change their mind. I am just moving on.
This dream will come to fruition eventually. I’m determined to have it happen one day.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
Painters I adore that have influenced my art are Matisse, Modigliani, and Chagall. Their bold lines, vibrant colors, and how they bent composition rules really speaks to me.
In my life now, it would be my husband of 28 years. I came from an abusive broken home and had horrible self-esteem when we met. Over the years, he has encouraged me to see my value and believe in myself. His gentle pushing has coaxed me to be brave and to accomplish amazing things. We both encourage each other to try new things, help others, and grab life TODAY.
- There is no magic pill for becoming a good or even great artist. It all comes down to PRACTICE.
- Rejection paves the road on your journey to success. Learn from it, and then put it behind you. Keep moving forward.
- Learn the rules, and then bend them to fit your style.
- Have mentors and become one to others. Give back where you can.
- Encourage other artists by attending exhibitions and venues. Supporting other creatives makes the art world a better place.
- Create what makes YOU happy. That enthusiasm will come through in your art. If you hate the work, chances are others will too.
- Travel and get out of your studio. A new environment is a fantastic way to inspire creativity.
- Use the best quality materials you can afford. Just like wearing nice shoes or lingerie, they give you confidence.
- There will always be someone better in your chosen field. It is just how life is, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are the best version of you. Keep learning, improving, and growing in confidence.
- Document where you have been with photos, video, audio, or writing. Refer to your earlier works when you are creatively challenged or have received a rejection. Looking back at where you struggled will help you see how far you’ve come. Do this all through your life. As the saying goes: “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
What is the best advice you have received?
“Be yourself.” When I went back to art after taking off 25 years. My first teacher was for a community college design class. At 44 years, I had no idea what I wanted to do with art. I had received a scholarship ages ago but hadn’t really done anything with my art in over 2 decades. My wonderful teacher saw potential in me and saw me struggling. He said: “Be Yourself”. To not care what others are creating or what will be said about the work. To create what makes ME happy and fulfilled. I’ve never forgotten that advice. I still live by it.
If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?It is NEVER too late to start something new. Going after a better job, improving your education, volunteering, getting healthy, traveling, meeting new people, learning a new language or instrument, and so much more are patiently waiting. If you have always wanted to do something, go for it. Don’t keep telling yourself “One day I’ll do it”. We just have to be brave and get moving. Sure, it is scary to get out of our comfort zone, but it is so worth it. The one question we all need to ask ourselves is: “When I am at the end of my life, would I rather be proud of all that I accomplished, or regret that I never tried?”
To learn more about Shannon Fannin and her art, please visit her website.