Born and raised in northeast Ohio, Sylvia graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Graphic Design/Illustration. It is also where she enjoyed a successful career in marketing, advertising and sales at several nationally known consumer products companies.
Throughout her career though, she made time for her love of fine art--a love that started early in life through family outings to the Cleveland Museum of Art. “I would have started drawing earlier, but I was such an active child,” she jokes. “I never had the discipline to sit still. I could be found playing neighborhood baseball, climbing a tree or exploring the fields and ‘soon-to-be-built-on’ vacant lots in our area. My friends and I were always hunting for new places to discover ‘untouched’ nature.”
Shanahan believes that these childhood experiences evolved into an almost reverent love for landscape painting. Where she once scouted for natural vistas, she now explores new territory in color and technique. “My goal is to represent more than what is seen by the naked eye,” she states. “I manipulate and juxtapose color to create the energy of the scene. So much is involved when looking at nature. The time of day, the temperature, the wind, the fragrances, the noise or lack of....even your mood affects the experience. I try to convey the visual, along with the sensual and emotional experience too.”
Her approach to painting was noticed by Magical Blend Magazine in the mid-90s where her painting, “The Soul Remembers” was featured. Since then her work has won several local awards in Ohio and Florida and has also shown in Vermont and Georgia. She has recently attracted new collectors across the country and in Canada after being juried into Zatista, an online source for original art.
Shanahan currently lives in Largo and works out of her studio in Dunedin. Past and present affiliations include The Akron Society of Artists, Creative Artists Guild, The Center for Creative Arts and Beach Art Center where she teaches oil painting and colored pencil.