ART123 Gallery Member Artist Shannon Gurley O’Donnell’s solo show, “The Beauty and Grandeur of the Cosmos,” opens this week (running through July 2). In light of her upcoming show, ART123 Gallery Assistant Maya Ross asked Shannon some questions so that we could all get to know her and her art a little better!

What have you been exploring in your art recently?

Genesis by Shannon Gurley O’Donnell

The very first time I saw pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope, I was blown away.  The beauty literally took my breath away – the colors, the vastness, the magnificence….  As I was thinking about what to paint for my solo show, I realized this would be a perfect venue to share this beauty with others.  Needless to say, I’ve been very busy painting.  I wanted to paint on large canvasses to capture the immensity and radiance of the stars and galaxies as they seem to dance and glow.

I also love Venice, Italy (traveling to Venice is on my bucket list!), so I’ve been working on a few little ones that I’ll be showing as well.  There’s something about the water and the curve of the gondolas that feels so romantic and inviting

Where do you think your creativity comes from?

My whole family is creative!  My mom’s sister is an artist, and both of her sisters decorate beautifully.  Growing up, my mom was always doing craft projects, and she’s a fabulous cook.  My dad was creative in business. My brother used to draw and made beautiful wood-burned tables and stumps.  Both of my sisters are really good at decorating.  My older sister is also an amazing cook!  In my home now, we are always making things.  We spend a lot of time at hardware and craft stores.  If we need something, we often make it rather than buy it.

Is there an art movement or artist that influences you?

From the time I was young, I loved impressionism, especially Monet.  I also admire realism, mostly because I have had to work so diligently to achieve a degree of it!

Why did you become an artist? How did you get started? Did you go to school to be an artist? How long have you been painting? 

I never knew I was an artist. In our family, my brother was “the artist” and I was “the brain.”  I started painting in my early 20’s after my roommate suggested I add a “watercolor wash” to some little sayings I had created.  Huh?? I had no idea what a watercolor wash was, so I went down and bought a kids’ set of Peacock watercolors (the little 9-pan set).  It progressed from there.  Later I took lessons at our community colleges, then private lessons, and then studied at the Scottsdale Artists’ School.  I’ve been painting now for about 33 years

What is your studio like?

I giggled when I read this question.  What studio, lol?!  I do watercolors on the counter next to my kitchen sink so I can change my water frequently and I have good light there.  For years I didn’t paint with oils because I had two small boys and had nowhere to set up and leave my paintings (they were and still are “all boy” boys!!!!).  As they got older, I would set up my easel in our front entryway or sometimes in our office.  I still paint small pieces in the kitchen next to the sink

How does your art reflect your personality?

Those who know me know that I am multi-faceted and very spiritual. I absolutely love love love nature!!! I

McGaffey Nights by Shannon Gurley O’Donnell

see and feel God in everything – feathers, spider webs, bees, tree roots, clouds, and more.  I love to camp and backpack (although I don’t like to get dirty . . . figure that one out :)).  Yet on the other end of the spectrum, I love to get dressed up, drink tea out of beautiful teacups, etc.  I enjoy cooking and baking.  I love spending time with people, but I also need a lot of time alone (every morning I spend my quiet time centering and talking to God – it’s my favorite time of the day).  I am light-hearted at times and very serious at others.

In art school we did a lot of life drawing which I enjoy immensely.  I also love to paint nature, my kids, abstracts, and more.   When people see the collection of my work on my website ( or on my Facebook page (Paintings by Shannon Gurley O’Donnell), they always comment about my diversity – it’s a direct reflection of me.

See “The Beauty and Grandeur of the Cosmos” at ART123 Gallery between June 9 and July 2.

Shannon is also raffling off “McGaffey Nights” (pictured above) with all proceeds benefiting gallupARTS. Get your raffle tickets here!